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Your Brilliant Baby in Week 48: Developing the Pincer Grasp

Baby’s Brain in Week 48

Watch your baby’s fingers closely. If she hasn’t already, quite soon your child will be able to pick up a Cheerio using her index finger and thumb. Don’t let this developmental milestone go unnoticed—it means you’ll soon find a slew of fun finger foods in your pantry, on Baby’s high chair tray, and, well, under couch cushions, between car seats…

(Note: If you have a daughter and your sister has a son of about the same age, don’t brag too much when you see that your daughter has mastered this skill sooner than your nephew. Most girls acquire it before boys.)

What the Research Shows

Researchers conducted observational studies of children to determine just when babies acquire certain fine motor skills.

  • Between seven and nine months, a baby can use all his fingers along with his thumb to grasp a small toy block.
  • At nine months, Baby can pass an object from one hand to the other.
  • Between nine and 12 months, a baby can use his index fingers and thumb, bringing them close together as if to pinch—that’s why it’s called the pincer grasp—to pick up various small toys and food items.

As grasping becomes more precise, babies explore objects by rotating, moving, and shaking them. Then they combine these actions to achieve a goal such as placing a block into a hole in a box. They eventually pass an object from one hand to the other.

Once babies are able to sit independently, their hands are free to carry out more extensive types of manipulations. No longer are their mouths the primary sensory perceptors: Now, using both hands together, they determine the contour of a particular shape and also its hardness, size, weight, and texture. Later children use the pincer grasp to string beads, cut with scissors, and color with crayons.

Week 48 Brain Booster

Right now, you’ll notice your little guy exploring objects by bumping, banging, shaking, squeezing, tasting, and throwing them. Annoying? Sure. But think about this: When you look at a sponge, you don’t need to touch it; you know how it feels. How do you know it? Because when you were a baby you likely had many opportunities to pick up sponges and explore their properties. All the touching, tasting, and exploring your child is doing right now provide him with lifelong knowledge about various objects within his reach.

So while you might find some of these activities irritating (so long, favorite picture frame!), be patient. Your baby is learning valuable lessons about the properties of objects.

Your Week 48 Toolbox

Related skills and topics this week include …

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