Let’s explore how toddlers gain control over the fine movements of hands and fingers in today’s column. The newborn is able to put his fist into his mouth and sometimes his thumb. The six-month-old fists food into his mouth and at about one year of age, the baby can begin to rake or roll cheerios into the palm of his hand from his highchair when he wants to feed himself.
Soon after this, the index finger will start poking into the holes of the cheerios or pushing into pieces of cheese. Whatever sticks goes into his mouth. Whatever falls off he will try again and again to rake the pi
eces into his hand or roll the pieces into his palm. He does not yet have the fine control to use what we call the pincer grasp. That will come in time with practice.
When you give your toddler safe opportunities to practice rolling small objects with the side of his thumb and forefinger, he will gain control and refine his grasp. Either hand is working. Hand dominance comes in much later, in the kindergarten or first grade year.
One important role of the fine movements of our hands and fingers is to be able to feed oneself. Our brains are wired to do this. This is why safety is extremely important at this age. Babies and young toddlers are going to put everything they pick up into their mouths! A word to the wise is sufficient.
When you make little fingerpuppets for today’s song, you will provide the opportunity for older toddlers and preschoolers to practice fine motor control. Directions and fingerpuppets to print are available at twinkletime.org.
Song (tune of Five Little Ducks)
Five little turkeys hid in a tree
Quiet, quiet as can be
Mama turkey said, “Gobble, gobble, gobble
Four little turkeys went waddle, waddle, waddle.
Repeat for four, three, two, and one
After no little turkeys went waddle, waddle, waddle, then sing,
Papa turkey said “Gobble, Gobble, Gobble.
Five little turkeys went waddle, waddle, waddle.
It is fun to have fingerpuppets available to use for this song. Laminate paper turkeys and cut a hole or slit so children can put two fingers under the little feet. Then they can make their turkeys walk and waddle.