As a parent, you may have heard about helping your infant / toddler develop their pincer grasp, but what does that really mean? How can you improve this developmental milestone? And what does a pincer grasp have to do with feeding? I will answer all of those questions and give you some ways to improve your child’s fine motor skills (and on a budget, too!).
Pincer Grasp: A pincer grasp is when a child pinches an object or a piece of food with their thumb and index finger. This fine motor and feeding skill develops between 9 to 12 months of age. With practice, this grasp allows babies to feed themselves independently, be more successful at mealtime and eat with less mess! If that sounds like a parent win to you then read on!
Cost Effective Crafts: Help your little one practice control of their pincer grasp by using the Mini Play Mat with items you already have at home or items you can find at the dollar store. Here are a few craft ideas to get you started.
- Play Dough & Straws: Put play dough in the flower pedals of the mat. Cut up plastic straws and have your child pick up the straw pieces (using their pincer grasp) and place them into the play dough. Use different colored straws and cut them in varying lengths to amp up the fun factor. Once mastered, try this with toothpicks instead of straws!
- Clothespins & Bag Clippers: Place clothespins or bag clippers along the top of the Mini Play Mat and have your child pinch them off using their pincer grasp. To make it more interesting, color the clothespins with markers or cover them with Washi tape.
- Eyedroppers: Fill each pedal of the Mini Play Mat with water and different colors of food coloring (blue, red, green, etc.). Have your child use an eyedropper to suck up a few colorful drops (using their pincer grasp) and then squeeze the liquid onto a coffee filter. They can make their very own tie-dyed masterpiece!
Food Crafts: Support development of your child’s pincer grasp while exploring a variety of foods with these fun food crafts!
- Bracelet & Necklaces: Fill the Mini Play Mat with different puffs and Cheerios and have your little one help you string them (using their pincer grasp) to make an edible bracelet. For older kids, try stringing food necklaces with popcorn and other edibles found here.
- Pom Poms & Cotton Balls: Have your child drop cotton balls or pom poms (using their pincer grasp) into the flower pedals of the mat. For an added sensory experience, try putting some food puree into the different pedals of the Mini Play Mat and dye each section a different color with food coloring. Then, have your child use the pom poms to ‘paint’ and decorate a piece of paper!
Once your child has started using the pincer grasp for crafts and finger feeding they can start to master other eating activities. Using utensils during mealtime or coloring marshmallows with food safe markers can be fun ways to work on fine motor skills. Challenging their grasp with child chopsticks or kid-friendly food scissors are great snack time ideas, too! All of this pincer grasp practice will eventually help your child with school and self-care activities (e.g., holding a pencil and zipping up a jacket), so don’t give up. You've got this!
What are some of your favorite pincer grasp activities? Do you have a fun food craft that would be perfect in the Mini Play Mat? Share them with our community by using the hashtags #ezpzfun #miniplaymat.
Dawn Winkelmann, M.S, CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist & Feeding Specialist for ezpz