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Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Work those Baby Hands - 4 Ways

Maria Montessori emphasized the importance of the hands for the development of human-kind. It is through the use of our hands that people have been able to create, explore, and grow. It is with this understanding that Maria Montessori created the materials in her classrooms. This understanding continues today and is just as important in a home as a class setting. As a Montessori parent we know that offering real and concrete experiences for a child's hands is key to their success. 

This includes babies. And there are so many great toys available that can help to get a baby's hands moving. But here I wanted to highlight four materials that are great for getting little hands moving - egg and cup, peg in cup, palmer block, and pincer block. These toys are similar to one another, but each have benefits. 


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Egg and Cup

This is the first of the set that I introduce to my kids. It's lovely because it is so simple. Babies can grab the egg, remove it, and then place it back in the cup. The egg's wide shape allows a baby to use a less mature palmer grasp to pick it up and manipulate it. This allows younger babies to use it with easy. It's also great because the cup is forgiving, they don't need to be exact in placing the egg back into the cup in order to feel some satisfaction. 

Montessori baby toys that help to develop hand muscles. Here are 4 options to consider in your home.


I introduce this around the time my babies are sitting independently. Gus liked this at a much younger age, but Teddy is just starting to notice and enjoy (and quickly master it) at 11-months.

Palmer Block 

Like the name suggests, this toy also uses a palmer (or whole hand) grasp. This grasp is less mature and therefore younger babies can use the material. Teddy loved to grab and pull this cylinder from the base but unlike the egg, it takes far more concentration and precision to return the cylinder to the hole. While the cylinder has no up or down, it must be vertical. This increases the challenge just a bit from the egg and cup. 

Montessori baby toys that help to develop hand muscles. Here are 4 options to consider in your home.

I introduce again around 8-9 months when my babies are sitting and starting to mature those hands. Like I said at this earlier age, Teddy loved to remove the cylinder, but it's only recently that he has started to replace it.

Peg and Cup

The next of these four toys that I introduce is the peg and cup. Unlike the other two choices, this toy uses a more mature 3-fingered pincer grasp. This is similar to the grasp that they will used for knobbed cylinders and eventually for writing. It requires a lot of precision to get the peg in the hole, but it will fit in either way it's placed. 

Montessori baby toys that help to develop hand muscles. Here are 4 options to consider in your home.

I introduce this once I see some precision with the palmer materials. I also look for other examples of my babies using a pincer grasp before introducing, like picking up some bits a food with a pincer or other little things they find outside. I just introduced to Teddy at 11-months. 

Pincer Block

This is the last of these hand-working toys that I introduce to my babies because it is the most precise. It requires a more perfected 2 or 3 fingered grasp in order to place the block. The block will only go into the base correctly if it is right side up. It just becomes really great work for strengthening those little finger and hand muscles. 

Montessori baby toys that help to develop hand muscles. Here are 4 options to consider in your home.
I introduce to my kids once they are showing me that they have some precision with their pincer grasp. For Teddy, that's been at 12-months. 


Now, these toys are very similar to one another. If you don't have them, I don't honestly think that you need to have all four. While they are all distinct, I would say having one set or the other will be just fine for a home with a single baby. 

Montessori baby toys that help to develop hand muscles. Here are 4 options to consider in your home.



Did your baby enjoy these Montessori baby toys? What other toys did they enjoy to work their hands? 

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