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January 17, 2023

Development of the Hand: 10-Months-Old

Babies are so incredible, you know I've said it a few times! Or like every day for the several years. And, with Penelope I've focused on sharing a lot about her natural gross motor development journey. But, I don't want to forget the other super important way that she has been exploring the world - and that is with her hands. Fine motor development begins with the infant and lasts for years. The development of the hand, in all its glory, is what will allow a child to truly explore their interests. 

Development of the Hand in Babies

Let's get a little nerdy again for a minute! As babies the hand will go through a whole series of changes that help them mature their grasp on objects. Babies are born with their palmer reflex (which you see as your newborn automatically grasps your hand) and as that fades, they are left with an immature grasp. 

The human hand, so delicate and so complicated, not only allows the mind to reveal itself but it enables the whole being to enter into special relationships with its environment." Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood (81) 


Over the next several months, a variety of different grasping techniques will be mastered. From the whole hand grasp and raking to starting to incorporate the thumb and eventually just using the fingers - babies will transform the way they manipulate objects over and over again as the months creep closer to their first birthdays. And, even into toddlerhood babies will continue to refine their newly developed pincer grasp for years to come. 

At 10-Months-Old

For Penelope, 10-months-old seemed to be the time when she took a serious interest in starting to work very intentionally with her hands. I could see before my eyes a lot of exploration in the type of grip that she was approaching things with. This was such a fun development for me because it means I get to introduce some of my favorite types of Montessori toys for her to explore. 

"In order to develop his mind a child must have objects in his environment which he can hear and see. Since he must develop him self through his movements, through the work of his hands, he has need of objects which he can work that provide motivation for his activity." Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood (82)

It's through these toys that she can practice refining her grip and changing the ways in which she uses her hands to explore the world. She started to grasp with all of her finger tips, leaving out the palm completely. She also started to rely more and more on a pincer grasp (the thumb and finger) instead a more whole hand approach. 

Activities to Support

I'm sure there are endless activities on the internet to support the baby's hand development. But as a Montessori parent, here are some that I found valuable: 
  • The freely chosen work of Penelope - they know better than us what they need, and the work that they do around the house with objects they find should be respected. Maybe its kitchen tools, maybe it's fuzz, maybe it's cabinet door - see value in their work
  • Meals - so much work happens during meal time, and the extra sensory input here makes it even more important. So let babies eat with their hands and offer utensils. Resist the urge to feed with a spoon

Toys to Support 

There are so many toys out there that can help to support a child's hand development. And, honestly everything they interact with will meet these goals in some way. But here are a few that I specifically made available to Penelope to support this interest around 10 months. I will list in order that I introduced: 
There are other toys that I'm sure she has used this month to work toward these skills, but these are specifically great for hand development.  Read more about these materials here. 

So if you have an older baby, don't forget about fine motor skills and the hand. The hand is so incredible, just like those babies themselves! 

This post is week 42 of my weekly Montessori Baby series focusing on Penelope. 


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