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Peeling activities to strengthen the pincer grasp

Your baby will use a pincer grasp throughout his entire life, and it’s one of the last grasp progressions he will develop as a baby. Using the tip of your forefinger and thumb, a.k.a the pincer grasp, comes in handy for everything from tying shoelaces, fastening buttons, picking up small items, and zipping up zippers. Still, it’s equally important to develop hand strength for writing and typing.

Here’s a quick refresher of the types of grasps your baby has developed up to now:

  • Ulnar palmer grasp: By month 4, your baby was holding an object you give him and gently wrap one or two of his fingers around it 
  • Palmer grasp: From 5 months, your baby tried to centre an object in the palm of his hand by wrapping more fingers (still not his thumb) around it. This was followed by your baby finally starting using his thumb when holding an object (the Radial Palmar Grasp).
  • Raking grasp: Around seven months, your baby tried to pick up objects using his hand like a rake.
  • Radial digital grasp: As a precursor to the pincer grasp, this grasp lacks the refinement to pick up small objects.

One of the easiest ways to practice your baby’s pincer grasp is to give him opportunities to peel things. Here are our top 5 ideas:

Tap peeling

Of course, this activity will be on the list because the variations can be endless. Stick the tape on your baby’s high chair tray, the wall or the window for a fun twist. You can also place small toys in a muffin tin and place a piece of tape over each one. Another idea is to stick tape in a criss-cross pattern and let your baby figure out which one he should start. Strong-willed kids will try to peel everything off at once - let them! It will be more challenging work but great for strengthening their grasp.

Crayon wrappers

If you have some broken crayons lying around, let your baby peel off the wrappers before melting them into new shapes or colours.

Velcro on shoes

If your baby owns a pair of velcro shoes, give him a shoe to open and close. This is a great precursor to letting them try to put on the shoe.

Unwrap toys

Wrap some toys in tinfoil for your baby to unwrap. Trying to get to the prize hidden inside will encourage your baby to tear off small pieces or attempt to rip them off all at once!

Peeling fruit

Another great practical life activity for babies who love peeling is to peel fruit. Slice a banana in thick slices and unpeel a small piece for your baby to do the rest. Clementines with the peel slightly lifted from the fruit is also a great alternative. Start a small piece and allow your baby to get messy trying to do the rest. The reward is obvious for your baby, so he will be happy to try repeatedly to get to the juicy fruit.

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