Very young babies babies spend a lot of time looking at their own hands, especially when they are using them to gasp, feel, flap and interact with toys in different ways.
If a baby is not moving one hand as much as the other, they are generally less aware of the hand, do not spend time looking at the hand, and miss out on the important experience for needed for learning how to use the hand for reaching, grasping, feeling and manipulating.
If one hand is is the preferred hand for grasping, feeling and manipulating it becomes the dominant hand. The other hand, let's call it the less active hand, is increasingly neglected and does not develop these basic hand abilities, especially those needed for being the supporting hand in two handed activities. This in turn makes it difficult for the baby to do the many activities that require two hands working together.
Ways to encourage your baby to pay attention to a less active hand
There are several different ways to encourage your baby to pay attention to their less active hand and encourage them to start using the hand for the basic abilities of reaching, grasping, feeling and manipulating.
Sitting position and stability for these activities
For these activities, because you want the hand to be in the child's line of vision, it is best to let them sit in a feeding or high chair with a tray or table. Provide extra support around the hips and lower back if the infant's balance is not very stable.
Encourage your baby to put the hands on the table more or less in line with the shoulder.
Hair bands around the wrist
Put a couple of brightly colored hair bands around the your baby's wrist.
Encourage your baby to look at and touch the colored bands using the preferred hand.
Babies will usually try to pull the bands off using the preferred hand. This is good because now the two hands are acting together. The less active hand must be held steady, while to other hand pulls the bands off.
You can also put the bands on the preferred hand, and encourage your baby to reach across and try to touch feel the bands and maybe even try to pull them off.
Hand in sock game
Put a baby or child sock over your baby's hand.
Draw your baby's attention to the sock by looking at, pointing to and talking about it.
Encourage your baby to use the preferred hand to pull the sock off the hand. This action brings both hands to the midline and prompts your baby to pay attention to both hands at the same time.
Covering the hand with a box
Find a cardboard carton that is just big enough to fit over your baby's hand.
Slip the cardboard carton over your baby's hand.
You can also leave both sides of the box open and pushing it far enough to let the fingers stick out. the other side.
As with the other activities, encourage your baby to look at the box by looking at, pointing to and touching the box. Talking about it. "Look, your hand has gone missing inside the box. Oh look your fingers are peeping out."
Allow the baby to pull the box off using the preferred hand.
Hide the hand under a cloth
Let your infant sit with the hands resting on the table.
Cover the less active hand with a face cloth.
Encourage your baby to move the hand from under the cloth.