When Do Babies Start Reaching for Things and Grabbing Them

Featured image of baby reaching at yellow toy

Babies are born with the innate ability to grasp things. In the beginning, it is manifested through baby tightly grabbing your finger, or holding on a binky. However, the real development of a better sense of perception doesn’t begin until the first three or four months. This is when they start to better control their reflexes and intentionally want to grab things.

Grasping is important and it will happen really fast. It enables your baby to play, to feed themselves, read, write, draw and take care of themselves. But, those motor skills won’t develop instantly, so let’s see when do babies start grabbing things.

When It Develops

The first two months

Babies have an innate grasping reflex. If you put your finger in their palm, they will curl their fingers around yours. However, these movements are instinct and they are not doing it intentionally throughout the first eight weeks. During the first two months, your baby will be clenching their hands into a fist, and soon they will begin to open and close them voluntarily and they will start paying attention to them, examining them. Also, it can happen that your baby will even try to grab soft objects – their stuffed animal, for example.

Image of adult holding childs hand

Three months

By the third month, grasping development still may seem slow, since your baby still cannot grab what they want accurately. However, this is when hand-eye coordination starts to develop, and your baby will start noticing things they would like to hold in their small hands, and they will try to reach for them. If your baby has something hanging above their bed, you will notice that they will try grabbing it and noticing it.

Four to eight months

At four months, your baby will be able to easily pick up larger objects, such as blocks for example. However, when it comes to smaller objects, such as peas, they won’t be able to accurately grab and hold them, because their finger dexterity is still not fully developed.

Between four and seven months, right before your baby gets their first tooth, they will start picking up things from time to time, trying to put them in their mouth. However, if your baby is eating solids, they won’t be able to hold a spoon steady yet, but they will certainly try.

By the eighth month, your little one will be able to rake things towards themselves and will start to move smaller objects from hand to hand. This is when you should start worrying about your valuables and smaller things and keep them out of your baby’s reach. Also, it is a great moment to start childproofing your home and remove all the small objects from their hand’s reach in order to prevent choking.

Image of child picking up easter egg

Nine to twelve months

After the eighth month, your baby will be able to pick up objects with little effort. Also, this is when their preferences for left or right hand start developing, but you won’t be able to fully determine if they are going to be a lefty or righty until they are 2 or 3 years old.

Also, between the ninth and twelveth month is when your baby will perfect her pincer grasp. This means that they are going to become able to pick up small objects between their thumb and forefinger.

Additionally, this is when their coordination will increase and your little one will soon be able to use a spoon and a fork steadily. However, you will notice that they will prefer to hold the utensils in one hand, while they are using their fingers for eating. Also, you might still need to help them hold the utensils and show them how to use them. But, they will easily figure it out if you let them try a few times with each meal.

What’s Next

As soon as your baby develops their grasping and grabbing and perfect it, you can expect that they will soon start throwing things. So, watch out, because many babies love hurling their toys. By the time they turn one year, they will enjoy throwing the ball, stacking towers or simply banging things together.

Also, by the time they turn 18 months, their artistic side will emerge and the fascination for crayons and drawing will occur. At year 3, they will develop their coordination will become improved and they will try writing down letters or even spelling out their name.

Your role in all of this is to stimulate your baby’s reflex for grasping. You can put a toy slightly out of their reach and encourage them to go for it. Later, as the pincer grasp develops, you should encourage your little one to pick up soft finger foods (cooked carrots, peas, etc) and help them master the utensils. Also, don’t forget to childproof your home and remove all choking-hazard objects. At the 18th month, you should help your little one discover new objects and help them develop new skills by letting them put objects into boxes or other containers.

When To Worry

If your baby has turned 2 or 3 months, and they are still not interested into toys or other objects moving in front of them, or they don’t attempt to pick up things by the 4th month, you should discuss that with your doctor. Some premature babies may start developing these skills a bit later than their peers, and you can check with your child’s doctor what’s the reasonable time frame for them to start grabbing things.

So, if you’ve ever wondered or expressed concern about when do babies start grabbing things, here is your answer. With each month, new skills will be developed, and you should do everything you can to encourage them to pick things up and work with their hands. Of course, you should watch out when they start throwing things and maybe box up those valuables. Not to mention how you should be careful with small objects and put them away, so your baby doesn’t put something hazardous in their mouth.

Author: Jonathan M. Ward
Author: Jonathan M. Ward

Himself a father of two, John is obsessed with getting the most out of every children’s product on the market, finding value wherever it can be found. His years of study in developmental psychology coupled with his passion for parenting make him an invaluable asset to our team.

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