Helping Baby Reach Physical Milestones

Reaching and Grasping: 4 to 5 months

At birth, your newborn's fists are clenched. In the first weeks, he will wave his arms spontaneously and automatically close his hand around any object placed in his palm. When these reflexes disappear, at about 3 to 4 months, initial attempts to control his hands will be jerky: He'll use both hands to corral an object. By 6 or 7 months, your baby will be better at reaching and sitting, too, which means he can better examine things that interest him. And though your infant can let things simply drop from his hands, he won't be able to release an object efficiently and accurately until he's about 18 months old, Dr. Gabbard says.

Skill builder: Give your baby a variety of objects to reach for. Offer toys that fit in one hand as well as bigger objects that require a two-handed grip. Vary their shape, too: Picking up a ball, for instance, requires different skills than grasping a cube. And place both still and moving objects within reach, sometimes to your child's side, so he must turn his body to grasp them.

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