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What Is a Pincer Grasp?

pincer grasp

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A pincer grasp is holding an object using a thumb, forefinger, or middle finger. A child starts using a pincer grasp after around 9 months of birth. Handling objects is an important component of child development. The pincer grasp allows them to handle objects and function like self-feeding, holding a pencil, buttoning, picking up an item, etc. It is where their activities start, and the function helps them learn to do a lot of things. Puzzles, blocks, and many other toys are handled using a pincer grasp.


Pincer Grasp Definition


It is a grasp that uses the fingertips of the index finger or middle finger and the thumb to hold or pick an object. Pincer grasp lets parents know if the child is active and can focus on objects. If a child takes longer to use a pincer grasp, it must be observed, and practical steps should be taken to ensure it is not a symptom of a greater issue. A child is usually very curious about picking up an object. They use a pincer grasp rather than using the palm of their hand. Moreover, the pincer grasp is better than the palm because it does not create any mess to pick up food using a pincer grasp.


Once your child starts to walk, you can test them for pincer grasp. It is possible for you to put the string of a pull toy in front of the child and see if he picks it up using a pincer grasp. If not, you should encourage him and even help him pick it up. The pincer grasp is a milestone for a child during development. It indicates that the child’s focus is clear and he can handle the items properly.


Inferior Pincer Grasp


It is a type of pincer grasp in which the child holds an object just like a pincer grasp, but the object is more on the thumb side. Moreover, in an inferior pincer grasp, the thumb supports the object more than the finger. The object is placed on the thumb pad and is supported by the index finger. At this stage, you can say that the child is struggling to use a pincer grasp to hold objects.


The inferior pincer grasp starts the learning process, and the child goes towards the pincer grasp. It is also called crude pincer grasp because it is basically a pincer grasp in the making. Your child can quickly go to the pincer grasp if he is already using the inferior pincer grasp. Some children may directly use a pincer grasp, and some may start with the inferior one.


Pincer Grasp Development


When a child starts to improve grasp patterns, they start with very crude movements involving the whole arm or hand. They focus on large movements first, such as sitting and getting up, rolling and crawling, etc. These movements are very important for a child to hold themselves while sitting and getting up. It helps them stabilize, and with time, they refine their grasp patterns.


The pincer grasp helps them in their handwriting skills. It helps them grasp a pencil and an eraser. The normal age for using pincer grasp is between 10-12 months. The maximum it can go is 12 months, after which it is something to worry about. Pincer grasp is a very important part of the development of a child. Any delay in the use of pincer grasp must be observed.


Pincer Grasp Age


The right age for an inferior pincer grasp is 7-9 months, while the refined pincer grasp may take 10-12 months. By 12 months, the baby can hold smaller objects such as candies, pencils, food, blocks, puzzles, etc. Babies at this age even feed themselves finger foods. Their grip starts becoming stronger at this age. You can help your baby become better at utilizing a pincer grasp by allowing them to hold a wide variety of objects.


You may pour popcorn on a clean surface in front of a child and let them pick it up and eat. Things that catch their attention can be placed in front of them and see if they move to pick them up using a pincer grasp. If they are late, for instance, more than 12 months of age, help them hold things and make them practice. As a child grows 3-5 years, he starts doing his stuff like picking up clothes, buttoning, combing, feeding himself, etc. At this age, the pincer grasp becomes the strongest.


Pincer Grasp Activities for Baby


There are many activities children can do using a pincer grasp. The activities may include playing with blocks, turning the book pages, eating finger foods such as French fries, pushing escalators’ buttons, stacking rings, using scoops, pulling out tissues from the box, squeezing or pinching stuffed toys, and many more. These are the activities that children take an interest in, and they also help in their development.


Babies are always curious. Once they know how to hold an object, they will try to catch everything—even a butterfly. You can take them out to play with grass and flowers too. You can take the blocks and puzzles outside and allow them to sit on the grass and play. Catching a string while crawling is also a good activity to make their pincer grasp stronger and more efficient.


Pincer Grasp Activities for Kids


As a parent or a teacher, you can make children hold a pencil or a watercolor using a pincer grasp. You can make them play cards or board games which are also mental activities. Playing with play dough is a creative activity. They can make buildings and houses using blocks because they are interesting for babies and kids. They should draw by holding a pencil and pencil colors and turning the pages, all including a pincer grasp.


After becoming strong at using a pincer grasp, toddlers start helping their parents with house chores. It includes passing a hanky to a parent in the kitchen. Or passing a spoon on the dinner table. They can also organize things like turning a photo frame in the right direction on the table. Kids can feed themselves by holding a spoon. Also, they can pick the blocks and put them back in the box, and so on.




Child development involves a lot of things, but pincer grasping is the beginning of many things. Knowing how to hold a small object is the beginning of their developmental process. Parents and teachers should occupy them in activities where they can use pincer grasp. Babies and toddlers both have their level of pincer grasping. Relevant activities for both have been discussed.


If your child is not good at pincer grasping or is taking long, make him practice a lot. Put interesting things in front of the child. He will try hard to grasp the object. While buying toys, go for puzzles and blocks to strengthen their pincer grasp. The pincer grasp is an important part of child development and helps improve their writing and drawing skills. Pincer grasping can be made fund for children and ultimately contribute to their development.

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