Why does my 7-month-old baby still clench her hands?

Q: My 7-month-old baby is very small and clenches her fists all the time. What are some questions I should ask her doctor? I am concerned she is developmentally behind.

A: By 7 months old an infant should be able to open and close her hands, pick up a toy and move it from one hand to the other. Some children have a preference for keeping their hands closed and this is not necessarily a problem if you are easily able to completely open the hand with gentle pressure and the child is able to pick up and play with toys. At 7 months picking up a toy is still done with a “raking” motion, using all the fingers to pick up the object. By 12 months they should be able to pick up a small toy using just one finger and their thumb. If you are not able to easily open the child’s hand or she is not able to hold and move toys from one hand to the other you should have her evaluated by her doctor and they may send you to a developmental pediatrician for further evaluation if there is one available in your area or they may send you to a physical and/or occupational therapist for evaluation and treatment.

Answered by Dr. Carrie M. Brown

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