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Baby's Manual Skills

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By the end of his seventh month, your baby should have had enough practice manipulating objects that he's able to tell the difference between something he can grasp with his hands (such as a toy) and something he can't (such as a ray of sunlight or a picture in a book). Instead of reaching for everything he sees, he'll touch objects first. In contrast to younger babies, who can only hold things in their palms (this is called the palmar grasp), your little one will start holding things with his fingers alone. By 12 to 15 months of age, he'll develop a "pincer grip" and be able to hold objects between his thumb and index finger.

Now that your baby has discovered that he can get information about things by feeling them, you'll notice an increasing interest in stroking and patting. He'll want to stroke everything-from the tray of his highchair to the blankets in his crib-and will be more likely to pat your hair than to pull it, as in the past!

To help your baby develop manual skills, give her plenty of interesting objects to play with. Activity boards, balls, and blocks of varying sizes are fun to handle. She'll enjoy playing with "grownup" objects as well as with toys, and many household items will add to her learning. Give her a spoon to play with while you're feeding her, a washcloth at bathtime, measuring cups while you're preparing dinner, a play telephone (or an old one with the wires and cords removed) while you're on the phone yourself. Have her help you put her socks on and turn the pages of her book during storytime. Provide her with plenty of opportunities to explore different textures, such as wool blankets, carpets, window glass, and grass.

Soon your baby will begin to imitate what you do, so show her how to place play rings on a stacker, push a ball, even draw with a crayon. Playing finger games-such as "this little piggy," "the itsy-bitsy spider," "pat-a-cake," and "clap hands"-will also help speed her developing dexterity.

Have Fun With Baby's Development

The Magic of Touch
Up to this point, your baby has used her mouth as her primary means of exploration. But this month, you should observe her examining things with her hands-by shaking, turning, dropping, and banging objects together. She'll also become increasingly interested in feeling different textures and sensations, so provide her with a wide variety of smooth, spongy, nubby, furry, and squeezable items -and watch what she does with them! Remember that objects with a diameter of less than ½ inch pose a choking hazard.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.