As any speech pathologist knows, reaching for items is a huge milestone. Little babies are trying to tell you they really want something and this is how they can communicate. It is the beginnings of requesting via “Mine”, “Gimme”, or “I want”. Soon your child will start reaching toward desired objects with an open hand and as their fine motor skills become more sophisticated they will start pointing to specific items with their index finger. Here are some tips on getting your child to reach:
1) Start off with something simple – your face! If you hold them in front of your face they are beyond motivated to see how their family members eyes, nose, ears, etc. feel. As they touch your face, make sure you label the body parts. It’s also never too early to discuss “nice touch”.
2) At this point your little one probably has some “favorite” toys. For example, one of Roman’s most favorite toys right now is his Oball. You can withhold an item in front of your child so that you can create the opportunity for them to reach. If they are not yet reaching by themselves, you can physically prompt their arm to reach out for the item.
3) You can also give options. Hold out two choices for your child to get them used to picking between items. Put one in each hand and see what they go for – it’s also a great way to take an inventory of what their favorite toys are. And once again physically prompt their arm to reach, encourages this very important communication skill!
4) Placing them on their backs in their activity gym or changing table with motivating items hanging above them is also a great way to encourage reaching. Roman especially loves when you hang the links from up above. You can make items go side to side or up and down to encourage you kids. And if you want to go to the next level, feel free to hold items in front of them during tummy time to see if they can begin to shift their weight and reach for items in front of them.