Fine Motor Skills Grasps

Palmer, Pincer, and Pencil Grasp for Fine Motor Skills Development

Fine Motor Skills -Different Grasps
by derekGavey under CC BY  with

As children develop from infancy into their preschool years the palmer, pincer, and pencil grasps are important to their fine motor development.  Below you will find a brief description of each grasp so you can better understand this area of fine motor development.

Palmer Grasp:

The palmer grasp is the first grasp in this group of three.  It has two stages.  The first stage of the palmer grasp is a reflex they are born with.  When you place your finger or an object in the palm of a newborns hand they automatically grasp your finger or the object with their full palm and five fingers.  When infants reach the age of around four months, they begin the second stage of the palmer grasp which is voluntary grasping.  The difference between the two is that voluntary grasping allows an infant to voluntarily pick things up with their hands whereas the grasping reflex allows an infant to hold things which are placed in their hands.  With both stages of the palmer grasp it is difficult for the infant to let objects go.  They will start to voluntarily do this around the age of six months. At this age you will also see signs of the next grasp developing.

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Pincer Grasp:

At six months of age infants are still using the palmer grasp but you will also notice them using the pincer grasp.  The pincer grasp involves use of the thumb and forefinger and will help develop hand-eye coordination skills.  Infants will use this grasp to pick up small objects like small bit of cereal to eat, and tiny objects which they see around them.  Keep an eye on your little ones though because this grasp opens them up to exploring a whole new world of objects.  Infants are able to pick up objects as small as a tiny tack on the floor.  Keeping all areas that infants spend time in clear of tiny objects will keep them safe from injury as well as swallowing and possibly choking on small objects.

Pencil Grasp:

By the age of 18 months when a child reaches their toddler years they will use their fingers for many fine motor activities.  Picking up small pegged puzzle pieces, starting to use utensils, holding a cup to drink from, using crayons to scribble with and so many more.  By the time children reach their preschool years, which is around 2 ½ years of age their fine motor skills are really used to the full.  Dressing, undressing, buttons, snaps, zippers, drawing, cutting with scissors etc.  Many of these skills will take until around the age of five to develop.

These skills take a lot of effort on account of the child to master, and a preschooler may still have developing hands so because of this, it is crucial that they are given a variety of tools to use to help them develop these skills.

For example, there are many types of scissors for children to use to develop the skill of cutting.  There are left handed scissors, right handed scissors, safe scissors for beginners, scissors with extra finger holes for adult supervision and help, etc.  During this time and by practicing all these skills, a child will be able to easily master the pencil grasp which is holding a pen, pencil, crayon, or even a pencil crayon using their thumb, forefinger, and middle finger.  This skill won’t happen naturally, they will need help to master it, but all of these stages and activities will make the process easier, smoother, and seem natural to the child.

Now that you know what each of these grasps are, the stages a child goes through developing and using their fine motor skills, and how important they are to their development, you can easily use the activities and information on this fine motor skills web site to the full.


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