When your little one is able to manipulate objects, utensils, or any kind of tools to complete any task successfully, they are demonstrating their abilities of hand control as well as finger strength. Dramatic accomplishments like learning how to crawl, stand, or walk are easy to see during their first years. Even so, during these months the tiny muscles in their hands and fingers are also providing them with the base for cognitive, social, and emotional development.

Your little one gradually learns how to go from grabbing a rattle with their whole fist, to picking up small objects, using a handle to open a drawer and manipulating toys that move. All these simple actions depend on underlining abilities such as finger strength, finger positioning, and finger isolation. The friction that is created by grabbing an object and simultaneously increasing the force on their grip to prevent the object from dropping are things required in order for your child to perform everyday tasks successfully.

When your little one performs these, they’re also developing concentration, attention, and memory skills. When they take small objects with their fingers, they focus on holding them long enough and without distraction in order to place them inside another container and repeat this action successfully. Their body awareness also plays an important role in the process. They need to know where their fingers are, how they need to position and move them, and how much pressure to apply with each one. Overall, their hand coordination and cognitive processes are working together to manipulate objects in different ways.

As simple as it may sound, the best way to keep strengthening these abilities is by providing opportunities for your child to manipulate all kinds of toys and objects (as long as they are safe). Tearing paper, flipping through pages, opening cabinets or doors, and manipulating blocks will reinforce and keep developing your child’s hand and finger control.

With time and practice you’ll see how these abilities reflect on basic self-care skills such as: dressing, brushing their teeth, tying their shoelaces, or opening their lunchbox. It will also influence important cognitive abilities like paying attention to an academic task and showing an intellectual capacity on an assessment.

Check out our article about safe toys that your little one can use to develop these abilities: How to find age appropriate toys for your little one.

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