3 Easy Ways To Develop Your Child’s Pincer Grasp

Noah has been working on his pincer grasp (which is a huge milestone for any child) for awhile and he has not quite mastered it yet. Noah is motor driven, just not fine motor driven.

We’ve talked about the development of a child’s grasp previously and how understanding your child’s grasp determines what they are able to interact with from food to toys. Once I understood Noah’s grasp, I realized that I was asking a lot for him to pick up puffs at 9 months of age and so I switched to a banana which he was able to bring to his mouth with ease.

Our occupational therapist has given us several activities to work on to help him develop his pincer grasp which is last stage of grasp development. Feel free to try some of these with your child.

1. Socks On Your Hands

socks on hand pincer grasp

Socks make an inexpensive occupational therapy tool!

I am not going to lie, there are a few activities that we don’t do at home, and one reason Noah may be lacking in his pincer grasp is it is not a top priority at home. (Like we always say, we aren’t perfect parents by any means.) 🙂

Our occupational therapist told us we could but socks on his hands with a hole cut out for his pointer finger and thumb so that he can only use his pincer grasp to pick things up. We were not big fans of this, but it does work.

2. Using An Ice Tray For Dinner

pincer grasp down syndrome

“Ok, what’s next?”

Putting pick up foods in an ice tray forces Noah to use just his pointer and thumb to pick up food. It is the only two fingers that fit down into those tight spaces. I will admit this works great and Noah used those fingers without problems with this method. We should do this more now that I am thinking of it.

3. Pulling Nobs Out Of Dough

pulling knobs beads from clay dough down syndrome

Check out that grasping awesomeness!

This is an activity that must be closely watched as you are going to use items that are marked for age 3+ due to choking hazards. Our therapist likes to use Pop Beads. She buries them in therapy dough, Theraputty (that is what they call it, it reminds me of silly putty) and Noah has to pull them out. It is much easier to get them out when you use your pincer grasp than the other variations. We do this almost every therapy session.

By the way, another fun and easy to do at home activity is to make “Cloud Dough.”

Has your child mastered the pincer grasp yet? What activities did you do?

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  1. Adorable! Love how he’s smiling at the camera man and the people around him while working his pincers! Congratulations to you and Noah for picking up an awesome skill!! (pun intended!)

  2. So cute with those socks on his hands….go Noah!

  3. maddie jacobs says

    way to go noah love your socks your rockin the grasping thing there is a eattable playdough recipe online for the one that you hide the thing in the dough that way if he eats the dough it wont hurt him its koolaide n someother stuff that is eattable . my kids love to play with it then they can eat it if they want when they are tired of playin.

  4. Casey D's Mom says

    Hi Rick! Just wanted to say thank you SO very much for these posts. My little girl, Casey, is 3 months old and we were surprised at her birth to discover that she has Down Syndrome. I can’t tell you how helpful your developmental and therapy posts are for me! We are still very early in things with Casey and I’m just trying to amass as much knowledge as possible for the road ahead. Many thanks for helping me do that! 🙂

  5. I recently tried to reach you via email, but didn’t hear back. Knowing how it is with so many emails coming into everyone’s Inbox nowadays, I thought that maybe posting a comment would be a quicker and much better way to connect.

    I am working with a very special lady, Dr. Julia Kinder, who has an 8 year old daughter with Down syndrome. We’re trying to promote A PETITION REGARDING DOWN SYNDROME and I thought you would be a great resource to help spread the word.

    PETITION – https://www.change.org/petitions/medical-school-faculty-require-complete-education-on-down-syndrome-for-3rd-year-medical-students

    We’re also having all sorts of activities on her website Celebrating Down syndrome – http://www.juliakinder.com/DownSyndromeCelebration/

    We also published a national Press Release about this a few weeks ago, but we need the active Down syndrome community to get involved – http://www.prweb.com/releases/Dr-Julia-Kinder/Down-Syndrome-Celebration/prweb10028318.htm

    Please let me know if you would help by posting some of this to your interested audience: colin@juliakinder.com

    Your time and efforts are so important as we try to change the stereotypes surrounding Down syndrome – dispelling the myths – and as we try to CHANGE THE WAY IN WHICH THE MEDICAL COMMUNITY PROVIDES RESOURCES TO NEW PARENTS. We can only achieve these goals with your help!

    Thank you so much!

  6. How old was he when you started doing this? My son is almost 10 months old and likes to eat little puffs and yogurt bites. I might try the sock thing when he eats becase he grabs with his whole hand and can never get the food in his mouth.

    • Thanks for your comment. Noah is 18 months old in this video. (His age appears at the bottom of the post. Also we put the date of the video at the start of each video. Just a heads up.)

      By the way, have you talked with your child’s OT about having them help you with this?

  7. Rosa leticia says

    Wow buena idea, lo voy hacer este tipo de terapia con mi hijo

  8. Rosa leticia says

    Wow buena idea, lo voy hacer este tipo de terapia con mi hijo
    por cierto Noah es hermoso

  9. Great idea! Thank you for sharing.

  10. Love this post! We might just have to try the sock idea! Brianne is 2 1/2 and still uses a raking motion if given the chance to pick something up. We did the ice cube snack tray today….and the other day I had her putting pompoms in a water bottle. Thanks for the suggestions and ideas! We’ll keep working at it – practice makes perfect! 🙂

  11. I loved watching Noah look up and completely miss the yogurt bite he was going for, but still bring his hand to his mouth anyway, because James does that ALL THE TIME! I’m always telling him to pay attention!

  12. We use sticky’s and sticky tabs to work on Elsie’s pincer grasp. She has to pull out the sticky tabs, which can be hard ..but she does a great job. We also stick the sticky’s on different parts of her body — hands, head, feet etc… so she has to reach for them to take them off, also helps with spatial talents. She is 12 months. It’s a fun game for us and for her!

  13. My husband & I love all your post, we’ve been following you since April 2012, when our daughter Sophia was born. You all are such a blessing to us & will never know how grateful we are for finding you after her birth. You really gave a sense of peace & hope that we could handle this extra blessing God surprised us with

  14. I’m sorry, our question was cut off.
    Our question……How do we know if Sophia is motor driven or not?
    She is in PT & has ST 1x a mth. However we are about to increase ST.
    We struggle with getting her to pick up puffs, yogurt melts or any food item for that matter. Any help/advice is greatly appreciated.

    • Motor driven by my understanding is that a child will want to get to whatever they are interested in by whatever means they can, where as an observer will not be motivated to get there but will want to check it out from where they are. In terms of grasp that is going to be more a fine motor skill and something an occupational therapist would focus on. You might want to try something larger for her to hold onto like a banana in terms of being successful at self feeding. Check out our post on grasp and self feeding which may be helpful. 🙂 glad you guys are doing well!

    • Is she trying and not succeeding? I had to push my Colton to do things on his own because he had been relying on me so much to feed him. Food was a great motivator for him once he figured out he could do it and now he does pretty good, but he still uses a raking grasp(2 yrs 2 mths) most of the time. He wasn’t interested in fine motor for the longest time, but now that he’s getting better at it, he has more interest. He didn’t seem to be motor driven until he could crawl. He would be content sitting and watching what was going on. Now he’s super fast, getting into everything. He’s been thinking about walking, but our kids do everything in their own time, so I just keep trying to encourage him.

  15. Thank you so much for responding to my question. I believe Sophia is a little bit of both – motor driven & observer ( if that’s possible) she’s very assertive in getting what she wants but she will also sit & observe sometimes with a lack of interest, as if she’s bored

  16. However, she amazed us last night when she ate carrots from a pot roast. We are working on getting her in with a private feeding/speech therapist. The Early Steps speech therapist we’ve had in our home really offended us by making the comment that the triple chromosome is the lazy chromosome. Needless to say, we don’t want our daughter working with a negative individual. I’m sorry for the lengthy response, I guess I just needed to reach out to others who understand. We are so proud of Sophia, she’s the most beautiful little girl & she is truly our miracle. She’s fought against the odds to be here & we know she’s a gift from God. We just want to be the best parents for her& are grateful
    we can reach out to you all & get advice. We will start trying her with banana slices & having her “play” with her food. Hopefully she’ll like that and begin trying new foods. Thanks again for your suggestions.

  17. My little guy does his best pincer grasp when I pincer grasp a gold star sticker or other tiny sticker myself and then pass it to him. There’s really no other way to take it from me other than to use a perfect pincer!

  18. My son is about to be 13 months old and has not mastered the pincer grasp yet. I tried socks on his hands and he ripped them off. The ice tray didn’t wort because he used his pointing and middle finger together to get the cheerio out. My son is right on track in all other things babies his age are doing EXCEPT the pincer grasp. He still grabs with his whole hand and has no problem feeding himself. His pediatrician is going to have an early intervention specialist come to our home to evaluate him. She said it may take a while and in the meantime to work with him. Do you have any other helpful tips? I try to make it fun for him, but, he just gets so frustrated!

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