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The Palmar Reflex

Babies are very clever and instinctively know how to do many things from birth. They are born with a series of natural reflexes to enable their survival.

Palmar reflex

  • Trigger: Pressing a finger or other object, such as a rattle, into baby’s palm

  • Response: Baby makes a fist and tries to grab finger or object

  • How long does the grasp reflex last? Appears at birth and lasts until baby is 3 to 6 months old

  • Reason: May prepare baby developmentally for voluntary grasping later

  • Fun fact: Baby’s grip can be strong enough to support his entire body weight (but no need to test this out!)

The Palmar reflex develops into the baby being able to grasp and release an object and as motor control improves through proper neural development, the Palmar reflex matures into the pincer grip. It is normal for this transformation to take place by 4 to 6 months and can be seen by the baby trying to wiggle their fingers-this then develops into a pincer grip. Some children can fail to integrate this reflex beyond this point to develop independent finger movements.

  • Grasping with fingers (from birth)

  • Reaching and grabbing (3 months)

  • Releasing grasp voluntarily (6 months)

  • Passing from one hand to another with use of thumb to support (6-8 months)

  • Development of pincer grip for picking up small objects (1 Year)

  • Begin to mark make and draw by wrapping their hand around an object (18 months)

As your little one develops, they will further develop their fine motor skills from the age of 2 on wards. This will culminate in the tripod grip to which enable them to hold a pencil.

Musical activities to support this development:

Grasping lycra ring - Row your boat

Tapping claves in time to beat

Experimenting on the drum, banging fists, tapping hands, wiggling fingers, scratching and flicking

Playing on a keyboard or guitar


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