Hand tasks that babies and toddlers master

Inspecting and exploring toys
Infants are born with a natural curiosity about the world and the ability to pay attention to interesting objects (especially faces and
hands) that come into their field of vision and will even stick out their tongues after watching a caregiver do the same.

Opens and closes hands repeatedly when exploring a toy
Infants take particular delight in playing with flaps and labels on toys.

   R hand opening and closing 19.jpg    R hand opening and closing 18.jpg

Grips small flat objects between thumb and forefinger 
Notice how Lily (9 months) carefully positions the hand in readiness for grasping the flap on the toy. 

    R hand opening and closing 14.jpg    R hand opening and closing 15.jpg

Spends time exploring a new toy using two hands 
Infants take time to inspect a new toy using both hands. They turn the toy over, turn it around, shake it and bang it on hard surface, taste it. 

They also watch their own hand actions and visually inspect the toy with sustained attention. 

will hands 9m.jpg    R 9m graband pull 4.jpg

Visually inspects a toy - turns it over and around 
The infant looks at the toy with great interest , turning it around and inspecting it from all angles. 

This visual exploration is important for making the connections in the brain that link what the infant sees to how the toy feels and behaves and also to the hand movement that are used to grasp and move the toy. 

   will 9m turn toys over 1.jpg      will 9m turn toys over.jpg

Adjusts shape and position of hand ready for grasping 
Here you see how Will aged 10 months opens the fingers and aligns the hand in readiness for grasping the toy with the left hand. 

At this age the hand will still open  a lot more than needed for the action. 

    will 9m shape hand to toy 1.jpg     will hands 9m 4.jpg

Shakes a toy to discover if it makes a noise 
If the toy does not make a noise, the infant will usually stop the shaking action. 

If the toy does make a noise, the infant will shake it several times before continuing to explore the toy in different ways. 

will 9m grasp and bang.jpg      T shaking toy 2.jpg

Mouths a toy briefly to explore texture and taste
At 8 - 10  months the infant will still spend a little time exploring the taste and texture of a toy with the mouth. However this is usually quite brief and the infant quickly moves on the exploring the toy in different ways. 

 W 8m mouthing a toy_1.jpg

Passes toy from one hand to the other|
Infants pass toys from one hand to the other repeatedly.  This is important for learning to use the two hands together, including moving the hands to the right place at the tight time. 

    will 9m paasess to to other hand.jpg      will 9m paasess to to other hand 1.jpg

Approaches and picks up larger object with two hands 
Infant quickly learn when an object needs two hands for lifting. 

W 8m grasping with two hands.jpg    W 8m grasping with two hands 1.jpg

Shaking, banging and drumming 

Spends time shaking the toy in different ways to explore how different movements change the sound that is produced by the shaking action.

Stops and starts, speeds up, slows down and changes the direction of movements, changes hands. 

T shaking toy 2.jpg  

Bangs toys on a hard surface
Vigorously bangs toys on a hard surface to discover if it makes a noise. Toys that produce a satisfying sound are banged repeatedly. 

 T 11 m banging tin 5.jpg      T 11 m banging tin 4.jpg

Bangs two blocks together 
Picks up small hard toys such as blocks and bangs them together repeatedly.  The accuracy of the banging action improves over tome. 

winterhands in action 6.jpg    winterhands in action 6.jpg

Drums with hands on hard surfaces that make a pleasing noise
Bangs an open hand against a flat surface that produces an interesting sound. Explores drumming with one hand or both hands together. 

Drumming is usually done in response to a demonstration by a play partner. 

T 11 m banging tin.jpg    W 8m drumming 1.jpg

Takes turns in a drumming game with a play partner 
The infant watches and copies the actions of a play partner who initiates the game. Infants are  sensitive to turn taking. 

 T 11 m banging tin 2.jpg

Knocking over and building towers 

Knocks over towers and other tall toys

T 12 m knocks over a tower.jpg    T 12 m knocks over a tower 2.jpg

Drop, throw, hide and look

Drops toys over side of feeding chair - watches them land
This action teaches the infant a great deal about what happens when a toy falls onto a hard surface: What sort  of noise does it make, does it bounce and roll? 

W 8m knocks jar off table.jpg    W 8m looks for fallen toy.jpg

 Throws toys backwards and then looks back to see where it has landed
This seems to be a favorite game for infants.

T throw and watch 2.jpg     

Tipping out and unpacking 

Reaches into a container to retrieve a toy

T 11m tin and blocks 7.jpg    T unpacking bucket.jpg

Tips  toys out of a box or tub

T 12 m tipping toys out of box 5.jpg        T tipping a tub.jpg    

Packing in and posting 

Packs toys into a container
Holds toy over the opening and releases it. 

T 11m tin and blocks 5.jpg   T 12 m tipping toys out of box 3.jpg  

Posts a ball through a round hole in a box or tin
Infants love posting games. 

T 11 m Posting ball.jpg      

Posts a  rod into a hole
This is more difficult than posting a ball into a round hole. The stick needs to aligned at right angles to the hole to fit through. Short rods are easier than longer rods. 

   W posting rod.jpg   T 16m posting long rod 1.jpg

Taking things apart and fitting them together 

Takes lids off and puts them on again

T 16m closing honey jar.jpg    T 16m closing honey jar 1.jpg  

Takes apart a toy egg or tub
This requires a strong grip and forceful pulling action.  Fitting them together again requires precision in matching the pieces. 

         T 24m pulling apart.jpg     T 24m pulling apart 1.jpg

Grasp and pull 

Pulls toys apart
Knows how to grasp firmly and pull hard to pull a toy apart. 

12m pulls toys apart.jpg

Pulls on a cloth to bring a toy nearer 

R 10m pulling blanket.jpg

Imitation and following instructions 

Imitates caregiver's everyday actions 
Pretends to talk on the phone. Uses a lid as a hat.

     R 12m stick is a tel.jpg     R 12m lid on head.jpg

Watches a demonstration and copies the action

W 8m copying simple action.jpg         

Copies a complex action on a toy
Here I show Roan how to pull a toy apart. 

 R 12m watching a demo.jpg   R 12m pulls apart after demo.jpg