Practicing the pincer grip is so important for little kids. The earlier they start practicing the better! And the great thing is, there are so many fun and interesting ways to get them to practice!
What is pincer grasp anyway?
The pincer grasp is what lets us pick up objects, or squeeze objects, with our thumb and forefinger. It’s a fine motor skill that most kids will pick up on their own given time.
Why is the pincer grip so important?
The pincer grasp is an important developmental skill because it plays into a lot of activities we do on a regular basis (probably without ever thinking about it!).
We are using the pincer grip when we:
- Pick up small objects
- Eat finger foods
- Button a button
- Hold a pen or pencil
- Feed ourselves with utensils
- Use scissors
- Make hand signs or gestures
For babies, the pincer grip is especially important when they’re trying to feed themselves. Babies love to be able to eat independently! With a proper pincer grasp, they are able to pick up smaller foods with more ease.
Just imagine trying to pick up one cheerio with your fist!
When will my baby develop the pincer grasp?
Most babies start to develop the pincer grip between 9 and 12 months. It is a developmental milestone, like walking. There’s not much you can to help them develop it earlier.
But activities that promote the pincer grasp are great to try once they’ve started attempted the pincer grasp.
Activities for Developing Pincer Grasp
Beginner chopsticks are a great way to practice the pincer grip, and kids love using them! An added bonus – my boys tend to eat more and for longer periods of time when they are using the chopsticks!
When using chopsticks properly, we work out the muscles in our hands. This is great for working on fine motor skills.
There are many options for beginner chopsticks. The benefit to beginner chopsticks is that they are usually connected at one end which makes them easier to use.
Of course, chopsticks don’t have to be restricted to just food. You can easily make a transferring game using chopsticks! Here I had Royal transferring and sorting red and blue pom poms with the chopsticks.
He was proud that he picked the blue one up! You’ll have to forgive his messy face!
2. Transferring small objects
**Please make sure to always watch your young kids around small objects**
Logi-Bear loves rocks and water containers, so I encouraged him to put the rocks into the water container. Picking up the rocks and then putting them through the small hole is great pincer practice. Logo-Bear managed to get quite a few rocks in too!
And when he finished getting the rocks in the container he loved banging it around!
Of course, transferring rocks doesn’t have to be an outdoor activity! Logi-Bears loves to do it inside too!
Most crafts will somehow involve the pincer grip but there are some easy ways to make sure you get practice in. My boys always love using glitter. Instead of letting them shake it out, I like to put it in a cup and have them pinch it. Sequins or little gems work really well for pincer grip practice too!
This particular craft was part of Royal’s Terrific Truck ABCs. He was sprinkling cheerio dust onto his A.
4. Short crayons or chalk
Kids seem to naturally hold pencils/markers/crayons with a fist. One way to prevent that is to cut them down so they are short, about an inch or 2 long. Then they will automatically hold the pencil with a pincer grip.
I’m tempted to just break all of our crayons, but I cannot bring myself to do it. Luckily for me, I guess, Royal has a tendency to break every crayon he touches.
5. Straws and water play
My boys all love water play. Anytime they can just play with water they are thrilled. They’ve been known to spend over an hour playing in a sink before!
On this day I gave them a bucket of water and straws and showed them how to pinch the straw so the water would stay in it. They tried to transfer some water but were mostly just interested in why pinching the straw let the water stay in the straw.
We just got this awesome doorbell house toy for Royal’s 3rd birthday and we all love it! There are 4 doors, each with its own key and doorbell. And there are 4 little people whose colors coordinate with the doors.
Using the keys is great pincer practice, and so much more! For Royal and Baloo, it is matching practice as well. Each key is marked with the number of the door, so you can match that way, or just look at the shape of the key and match it to the keyhole. Plus Royal likes to put the people in the door with the color that matches their outfits.
Pincer grip at work!
So many toys are great for the pincer grip, and this is just one example. Since the pincer grip involves many small objects, I particularly like that this one doesn’t!
Here are a few more toys that promote the pincer grip:
7. Lacing and making necklaces
Lacing is great for the pincer grip, but not all kids enjoy lacing. So far none of mine do. They really enjoy making necklaces or bracelets though! We like to make necklaces with beads (especially the lettered ones), pasta, cheerios, and cut up straws! The straws are a bit more difficult for Royal but a great exercise for Baloo!
Here is Royal giving it a try…
Baloo had a bit more luck with it though.
Royal was disappointed that he couldn’t finish his, but Baloo stepped right in and gave him the necklace he made. These boys warm my heart!
What are your favorite ways to practice pincer grip with your kids?