0 to 3 Months
Most of the hand movement that occurs during the first three months is involuntary. Place your finger in your newborn's palm, and his fingers will close around it tightly. "Your child doesn't have superhuman strength," Erhardt says. It's simply his palmar reflex, an automatic response. Your baby may also knot his hands into tight fists or splay them if he's crying or surprised. In the months ahead, these reflexes will eventually turn into voluntary actions.
- Stroke the backs of his knuckles with a rattle. Then, as his fingers open, place it gently in his palm. In the beginning, he won't be able to hold it very long, but the experience of holding and dropping it will let him practice for later play.
- Make sure your baby plays on his tummy. It's crucial for helping him strengthen his back, shoulder, arm, and hand muscles.
- Invest in a baby gym with dangling toys. Placing your baby under the arch and encouraging her to bat at the toys is wonderful practice for hand-eye coordination.