What is a neat pincer grasp? It is a child’s ability to pick up tiny items using his thumb and index finger. Babies first begin by raking tiny items with their whole hand to pick them up and then eventually they refine their grasp to a few fingers and their thumb until they can finally “pinch” small items and pick them up just using their thumb and index finger. Most children will have developed a neat pincer grasp by age 12 months.
But what if your child is having difficulty using just his thumb and one finger to pick up small objects? Here are some easy ways to encourage your child to refine his neat pincer grasp.
Place one Cheerio or other small cereal into each opening of an empty ice cube tray or empty egg carton. This encourages your child to use just a few fingers or hopefully his neat pincer grasp to secure the cereal.
Cut a slot into the lid of an empty plastic container and encourage your child to drop bingo chips into the slot or use a piggy bank (supervised) and encourage him to drop coins into the slot.
Place stickers on a sheet of paper and leave a small corner loose and encourage your child to use the ends of his fingers to peel off the sticker.
Place clothes pins around the rim of an empty container or around a paper plate and encourage your child to squeeze and pull them off using his fingers
Thread pipe cleaners through and over turned colander and leave a small bit sticking out and encourage your child to pull the pipe cleaner through the holes.
Use Play Doh and show your child how to roll tiny bits into balls between his thumb and index finger
Save bubble wrap with tiny bubbles and encourage your child to use thumb and index finger to squeeze and pop the bubbles
Use tiny pom poms from the craft store and cut a small round opening into the lid of an empty butter/cottage cheese container and encourage your child to drop the pom poms inside
Use a shoestring and dry rigatoni noodles and string the noodles onto the string. You can cover the end of the shoestring with a bit of masking tape to make it easier to handle. If your child can do the large noodles, move down to wagon wheel pasta which has a smaller hole.
You can continue to work on building hand strength by pulling apart pop beads or bristle blocks or large Legos. You can also work on hand strength using tongs or clothes pins to pick up objects or by squeezing sponges and bulb syringes in water play.