Early childhood is the most important phase in a child’s life, as it forms the basis for the physical and mental development. Hence, a child’s growth is very carefully monitored by parents and physicians during this age, to judge whether the child is progressing normally.
Between the ages of 2 to 4 years, the physical development is rapid, and needs proper nourishment and care.
What Is Physical Development In Early Childhood?
Your child’s body undergoes significant physical changes during early childhood. The proportions of the body change, giving the body a more adult-like structure and movement. Here are 4 signs of physical development in early childhood:
The development of limbs in your child follows a particular pattern.
- Arms and legs grow much longer and become proportional to the trunk of the body and the head.
- The body becomes much sleeker and thinner, than in the infant stage.
2. Muscle Growth:
The muscles in your child’s body grow stronger and quicker to support better movements.
- Larger muscles, like those in the arms and legs, grow faster and stronger than the smaller muscles, such as in fingers and toes.
- The muscle development needs to be aided by proper nourishment in the growing stage.
- When children indulge in playing games the exercise helps their muscles to develop better.
3. Brain Development:
The development of the brain is important for your child to perform more complex actions.
- During the early childhood, the neural fibers in the brain, especially the frontal lobes, go through a phase of tremendous synaptic growth.
- Research has shown that the average human brain increases from 70% of its weight to 90% between the ages of 2 years to 6 years.
- This is the reason that there is a huge increased development in the motor skills of your child during this age.
4. Motor Skills:
The term motor skills refer to the ability of your child. This helps him or her to perform various tasks using limbs, eyes, and cognitive skills. These can be divided into two areas depending on the abilities required for each:
a. Gross Motor Skills:
The word gross here is used in the context of ‘large.’
- The phrase ‘gross motor skills’ refers to skills that need big body movements, sometimes using the entire body to perform a task.
- During the pre-school years, from 2 years to 5 years, your child undergoes a period of rapid development in motor skills.
- Your child learns to walk properly, run, jump and generally balance themselves while doing so.
b. Fine Motor Skills:
Fine motor skills are ones that require more precision, accuracy and concentration.
- These are slightly more complex, and this ability takes a little longer for children to develop than the ability to perform physical tasks.
- This has more to do with brain development.
- These skills allow your children to use their hands and fingers to hold and use tools like crayons, clay or building blocks.
The physical development during early childhood progresses according to a specific pattern, and differs rarely if ever.
- Before the age of two years, infants learn to crawl and sit by holding their heads up by themselves.
- From 2-4 years of age, they learn to walk, run and jump, climb stairs slowly and learn to hold crayons and scribble, or play with building blocks.
- From 4-6 years they learn to write with a pencil, use stairs by themselves, and dress themselves.
- Healthy growth and proper development of children depends on a healthy lifestyle. It is very important for children to get proper nutrition and a balance diet during their growing years, for proper muscle and bone development.
Apart from food, children need a lot of exercise to strengthen their body and also stimulate their mind. Regular visits to the pediatrician to monitor the growth and development are also recommended.
Do share your ideas on physical and motor development in early childhood. If you have incorporated any special activities for the same, do let us know.
When Will Your Baby Develop The Pincer Grasp?
It is thrilling to see your baby accomplish developmental milestones! While most parents look for common ones like ‘rolling over’ or ‘walking’, a multitude of them are cited by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Pincer grasp is one of them.
According to Claire Lerner, parenting resources director at Zero to Three, a national nonprofit organization promoting healthy development for infants and toddlers, “Getting the pincer grasp is one of the biggest keys to independence. Eventually, a child will use this grasp to do essential things like feed and dress herself and brush her teeth.” MomJunction tells you how babies develop pincer grasp, and the activities and toys you can use to develop this skill in them.
What Is Pincer Grasp?
A pincer grasp is a kind of finger-hold that your baby will start developing between 9 and 12 months of age. She will use the index finger and thumb together to squeeze an object before grasping and picking it up. It helps your little one understand how to pick up things. Once she learns to use pincer grasp or pincer grip, she can successfully feed herself with fingers and can use a spoon. Gradually, the skills refine, and the little one learns to pick things with both hands.
How Do Babies Develop Pincer Grasp?
Babies can grasp things right from the time of birth. It is a reflex action in the first few months, called palmar grasp. The baby learns to hold anything in the palm by wrapping her fingers and thumb around it from one side (1). The palmar grasp gradually develops into pincer grasp, which is a developmental milestone. Here is how she develops her grasping skills through the months:
During the first two months, the little one keeps her hands clenched in a fist. She can curl her tiny fingers around yours as an instinct, to hold on to them tightly. This reflex slows down by the time she is three months old.
Now, the hand-eye coordination begins to develop, where she attempts to notice things and might even try to reach out for them. In the three-four month period, she can hold a toy or block. She may not grasp accurately but can bat. She may hold a rattle for a few seconds and can rake an object towards her.
By now, the palmar grasp becomes a voluntary skill. Five or six-month-old babies intentionally grip objects with this grasp. Your little angel attempts to pick an object, cover it with her hand, and squeeze into her fist. It includes the usage of the whole hand to grasp, pick, and hold an object. Once she masters in clutching larger objects in her palm, she will concentrate on gaining adeptness in her fingers in the coming months.
Between seven and nine months, your baby can use all the fingers and thumb to grasp a small toy. At nine months, she will be able to pass an object from one hand to the other. Eventually, the baby learns pincer grasp between nine and 12 months, in a direct route for picking things. It is a way of getting the index finger and thumb together as if to pinch.
Based on how well the baby can pick things using a pincer grasp, it is classified into two stages.
Inferior or crude pincer grasp: It is an initial stage where the baby uses the pads of the index finger and thumb to pick little things. It may last for 10 months from when the reflex begins.
Superior or neat pincer grasp: It is an advanced stage of the reflex, also called as fine pincer grasp, developed between 10 and 12 months. The baby can pick things using the tip of the index finger and thumb. Next, the baby will develop the lateral pincer grasp to hold an object between the side of the index finger’s mid-joint and the thumb.
Help your baby develop a more mature pincer grasp by trying the below-listed activities.
Pincer Grasp Activities To Help Your Babies
Encouraging the pincer grasp skill simply means allowing the little explorer to investigate a lot with fingers. Let her enjoy touching and manipulating toys or household objects.
Finger Foods: Allow your little one to try a few cheerios or soft finger foods such as cooked carrots or peas on her high chair. Place small food items like cheerios, raisins, etc., inside an ice cube tray compartments and challenge her to pick them using pincer grasp. Use tiny sock gloves which oblige her to use just the index finger and thumb. Keep away hard foods like raw carrots and nuts to avoid choking hazard.
Strengthen The Index Finger: Pointing or poking some object with the index finger is the initial stage of the pincer grasp.
- Encourage your little one to point out pictures in books or body parts.
- Let her push the play dough to make holes in it or push foods in her tray.
- Allow her to push buttons.
- Let her pull something out of your pocket and push something inside it.
- Let her enjoy pulling out tissues from a box.
Practice With Household Objects: The little one needs ample of practice.
- Simple kitchen items such as measuring cups and spoons, bowls, etc., are always a means of fun learning while playing.
- Allow the baby to drop objects into containers and help her learn to separate them. This aids muscle movements of the hand, wrist, and individual fingers.
- Stick a paper to the table or on the floor and allow your baby to scribble with crayons or a marker. Do not worry if she cannot hold it steadily. She is still in the process of developing her fine motor skills.
Toys To Encourage Babies In Using Pincer Grasp
- Toys or objects such as dials to turn, switches to flip, can be good pincer grasp toys, which help babies in developing skills needed to get the pincer grasp.
- Playing with toys, which need squeezing or pulling apart will be helpful. Balls of varying sizes and textures encourage the baby to push or squeeze. They help in the development of the infant’s hand muscles and the ability to co-ordinate them.
- Allow the baby to play with toys like stacking rings and alphabet blocks of varying shapes, sizes, and textures. Let her pick them, throw, pick again, stack, or knock them down. She may even clap them together.
Be extra careful. Keep choking hazards out of your little angel’s reach. Present one or two items at a time for practice. Too many things may tempt her to use ‘less mature raking grasp’, as she attempts to pick all of them at once, using all the fingers.
What Happens After The Pincer Grasp Development?
Once the pincer grasp is developed, grasping becomes precise. Babies explore more by shaking, moving, throwing, and rotating. Mouth is no longer their primary sensory preceptor. They use both the hands to determine the size, hardness, texture, weight, and other properties.
Pincer grasp helps in later activities such as writing, coloring with crayons, cutting with scissors, and so on. The child’s preference for using left or right hand emerges slowly, although it can completely develop by two or three years.
When Should You Worry?
Every baby reaches milestones at his or her own pace. If your baby is not catching up or attempting for a pincer grasp, she is probably not ready for it yet. Give more time and do not pressurize the little one. While achieving milestones is important, understanding a baby’s developmental stages is equally important! Consider it as a matter of concern if your child is not using the pincer grasp by 12 months. Get an evaluation done to assess her fine motor skills and check if she needs an occupational therapy.
Note that premature babies reach milestones a bit later than their peers. Other possible causes of delayed or absent pincer grasp can be genetic disorders like cerebral palsy and autism. Check with the pediatrician to clarify your worries or doubts.
Hope our post helped you learn about pincer grasp. Tell us when your baby began trying the pincer grasp. Did you attempt any particular activity to encourage your baby or take any measures to ensure that your baby had enough chances to practice? Share your experiences in the comments section below to help other moms.
Why Do Some Babies Crawl Backwards?
Seeing your baby crawl for the first time is priceless, even though her attempt may not be perfect! Sometimes babies crawl backward before crawling forward (1), which is absolutely normal. With time, she will discover a way to propel herself forward by learning how to balance, and by maintaining a coordination of her legs and arms.
Crawling backwards does not right away suggest any disorder (such as autism). As along as your little one can move across the floor with each leg and arm, you do not have to worry. Indeed, it can take a little time to get any thing to get good, and crawling is not an exception. MomJunction tells you why ‘babies crawling backward’ is not a cause of worry.
Why Does A Baby Crawls Backwards?
Crawling is part of an infant’s gross motor development, which refers to big muscle movements such as the ability to sit, walk, and run. Though seemingly simple, these gross motor skills require nerves, muscles, and bones to work in tandem and well.
When your little one begins to crawl, usually between six and nine months (2), she may choose the easiest and the most efficient way such as the commando crawl, in which she shuffles around her tummy. If the little one finds it easy to crawl back, she may opt for it for many reasons.
- If the baby feels stronger on arms than on legs, she will push herself back and crawl backward or scoot backward (3).
- The upper bodies of babies are more developed than the lower ones, which is another reason for babies crawling backward.
- Babies who push more on arms tend to push themselves back.
When her legs get stronger, the little one begins to crawl forward. Even if she skips to crawl forward or skips crawling altogether, it is completely normal. It does not mean that she has missed a milestone. Note that preterm babies may take more time than their peers to reach such milestones. Sometimes, infants who are above the normal weight may take more time to crawl, than other healthy ones.
How To Encourage My Baby To Crawl Forward?
Your angel will learn to crawl forward on her own. If you wish to stop your little one from crawling backwards, indulge in a few activities to encourage her.
- Put her favorite toy a little out of reach in front of her and encourage to crawl towards it. She may struggle but do not jump out for rescue. Let her try. As she tries, the muscles required for crawling forward get strong.
- Get yourself down on the floor and show her how to crawl forward. You could be funny as you do that.
- Once your baby comes to a crawling position, gently propel her forward by placing your hand on her bottom.
- Try moving her legs and arms to get the feeling of moving forward.
- Entice your little one forward with her favorite food.
- Use tummy time mats for your baby to practice crawling.
- Your little one needs loads of praises and encouragement from you to learn something new. Shower them and see the difference.
However, remember not to force the baby. It should be fun for your baby to learn to walk and crawl. Also, do not compare your little one with other babies of her age. She may be slightly ahead or behind them. You should let her grow at her own pace. Bear in mind that backward crawling or whatever will be a matter of past after a few months as your little angel will be walking and running around then!
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