How to Encourage the Pincer Grasp

At 8-9 month, you'll see your baby developing her pincer grasp. Here are 5 foods you can offer to help her develop this new skill!
baby using pincer grasp to pick up wet cheerios from a blue bumpkins bowl

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Remember that time when your newborn baby was in your arms? Every little thing about her was so cute. Her tiny toes, soft baby bum, and those little coos. You almost convince yourself that they couldn’t possibly get any cuter.

Parents.

They do.

At around 8 – 9 months you’ll see your baby start to develop a very keen interest for the tiniest little object.

Unveil…the pincer grasp.

When do babies develop the pincer grasp?

Up until this point your baby has been practicing their palmar grasp. This reflex is present at birth. When something is placed on baby’s palm, they automatically close it around the object. Babies will use this whole palm motion to try to pick up and hold food, which is why we recommend long “finger like sized” handheld foods at 6 months!

But all good things must come to an end… to make way for new good things! At around 8 months the palmar grasp will disappear and the pincer grasp emerges.

The pincer grasp is when your baby uses their thumb and index finger to pick things up.

Don’t worry if your baby doesn’t develop this grasp right away. Some children don’t develop it until closer to 10 – 11 months. But, like all things: we need to give your baby an opportunity to practice!

When you do start to see the pincer grasp emerge how you once served your baby food will inherently change. Instead of offering larger pieces of food, you’ll want to offer smaller bite size pieces. There’re two reasons why:

  1. First, you want to help your baby master the pincer grasp. This is a fine motor skill that’s needed for day to day tasks like…doing your shoe laces, buttoning your shirt and yes…picking your nose.
  2. Secondly, around this time the gag reflex has also matured and has moved towards the back of baby’s mouth. So smaller pieces of food makes sense. Your baby can now tolerate smaller pieces of food and use her tongue to push the food back without a whole lot of gagging.

How to teach your baby the pincer grasp

If you want to find fun ways to support this developmental milestone using food, here are 5 nutritious foods you can offer your baby to encourage the pincer grasp:

  1. Cheerios or other O shaped cereals that have been soaked in breastmilk or formula. Soaking the cereal can help soften the food for your baby, making it easier to pick up and swallow, but it’s not mandatory!
  2. Squished blueberries are full of flavor and the increased surface area attained by squishing makes it easier for your baby to manage.
  3. Whole grain macaroni noodles that have been tossed in olive oil not only offer your baby fibre and some non-heme iron, but they are so much fun to eat.
  4. Squished green peas that have been steamed are also appropriate when your baby shows signs of developing his pincer grasp. We’re a fan of squishing them initially to help your baby visually spot the pea and use their tiny fingers to pick it up.
  5. Squished legumes like black beans, pinto beans or chickpeas are also an absolutely fun and nutritious food to offer your baby. These little plant powered proteins have the added bonus of non-heme iron. By now, you know that’s a priority nutrient for all babies!

We hope this leaves you with some inspiration for when your baby is ready to downsize to smaller pieces of food (or upsize from pureed/mashed textures!). Take it from us, you’ll want to take loads of videos when your baby starts to practice this. It’s so much fun and uber cute!

What does the pincer grasp look like?

Watch this cute 9 month old baby practice using his pincer grasp with black beans!

Do you have fears or worries about feeding your baby?​

We know that starting your baby on solids can feel overwhelming and you may have other worries such as…

  • I’m afraid my baby will choke!
  • I’m afraid my baby won’t be getting enough of the right nutrients!
  • I’m afraid my baby will have an allergic reaction!
  • I’m afraid my baby is not eating enough… too much!
  • I’m afraid my baby will be a picky eater!

We’ve created a FREE guide for you to address these fears and most of all, help you work through them! Just enter your email below and you’ll get the guide sent to your inbox.

Jessica Penner and Nita Sharda, Registered Dietitians
Meet Jess and Nita

Hi! We’re both Dietitians & boy mamas! We’re here to help you confidently raise kids who will grow up to be lifelong Happy Healthy Eaters. Dig into our site for kid-tested recipes & feeding tips. 

COME FOLLOW ALONG!

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