Helping Hands - A Four Part Series on How to Encourage Hand Use at Every Stage of Infant Development

So what’s the first thing you notice when you look at a baby?

When you’re assessing infant development, there’s just so much going on. As therapists, it helps to approach a developmental assessment with a framework that covers all the major areas. This is why a standardized test is broken up into 4 or 5 areas of development (gross motor, fine motor, cognitive, language, etc.). Separating these categories as we look at a child through our lenses as therapists is what allows us to focus and make nuanced, clinical assessments. But of all the things that a baby does, nothing is more telling than the way a baby uses their arms and hands. Why do I say that? Well, this type of movement speaks to not only gross and fine motor development but can also give insight into a child’s cognitive development. In fact, as therapists and parents alike, as we aim to help a baby reach important cognitive milestones, more often than not it’s going to involve the use of their arms and hands; so, let’s talk about how we facilitate upper extremity use from birth to 1 year old.

Over the next four weeks we’re going to break down how parents can help a child develop the use of their hands in 3-month increments. Beginning next Wednesday, 8/19/20, we’re going to outline what we can expect from a newborn baby in terms of hand use for the first three months of their life, and what we can do as caregivers to support this hugely important skill – stay tuned!

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