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5 Ways to Enhance Your Baby's Motor Skills

Reaching and Grasping
Babies can begin picking up objects with thumb and forefinger by 8 or 9 months.
Babies can begin picking up objects with thumb and forefinger by 8 or 9 months.
Lynn James/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Most infants start waving or batting at objects by 3 months of age, an impulse that quickly becomes more refined.

  • By 5 or 6 months, your child should master visually directed reaching, which means she's able to see an object and reach for and grasp it with her hand.
  • By 8 or 9 months, as your baby learns to grasp with her thumb and forefinger, she can pick up surprisingly small objects — crumbs of food, for example, and, unfortunately, bits of dust and dirt from the floor. You'll have to keep a watchful eye on baby, because she'll be tempted to taste whatever she picks up.

Try these four suggestions to encourage development of baby's eye-hand coordination:

1. Install a crib gym. This allows him to bat at the objects overhead. (To be safe, remove it from the crib as soon as he can sit up.)

2. While your baby lies on his back on the floor, dangle eye-catching objects above him. Shake them three to eight inches above his head, giving him the opportunity to swipe at them.

3. To help your 4-month-old baby practice grasping objects, hand her rattles or other safe items to hold. Things that make noise when she shakes them, or have a nice texture to gum on, may encourage her to keep her grip.

4. Place several toys within reach. Let her grasp for things as she lies on her stomach on the floor.

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