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Baby Grasp Reflex

Baby Grasp Reflex

Did you know?

Newborns have very strong grips. Most babies have a reflex called the palmer grasp reflex that tightens their fists when they feel a sensation on their palm. If you explore and exercise this grasp, it can dovetail to more complex grips and strength early on. 

Babies are fast learners and take in information constantly. It may not look like it when they are plopped on the play mat, but if you're curious, you can also use your baby's palmer grasp reflex to test out an experiment that shows your baby has basic abilities of haptic perception. 

Baby Grasp Outer HandBaby Grasp Palm

Try this on your baby

Studies have shown that haptic habitation can be demonstrated as early as newborns. This means that your baby can use their hand reflexes to gather basic sensory data and can even tell the difference between round and angular objects.

They are eager learners, but will definitely need your help! Follow the steps below to see for yourself:

Preparation

Make sure your baby is in a prime time to learn, which is in the morning, after bath time or any other time you know they are usually aroused

Step 1          Circular Logo     Square Logo

  1. Grab a hard cylindrical object like a toy wooden peg or a hi-lighter (make sure the cap is tightly secured!)
  2. Press gently on your baby's palm with the cylindrical object to trigger the palm grasp reflex
  3. Let your baby hold on to this for about a minute or until your baby drops the cylindrical object
  4. If your baby is still holding the cylindrical object after a minute, gently open your baby's hand and remove the object
  5. Immediately re-introduce the cylindrical object. If your baby drops the object, also immediately re-introduce the object
  6. Continue this for about 8-10 times. Your baby may be dropping the object more frequent as you continue.

Step 2          Triangle Logo     Star Logo

  1. Grab a hard angular object like a toy wooden block or even a set of keys
  2. Press gently on your baby's palm with the angular object to trigger the palm grasp reflex
  3. Similar to the cylindrical object, if your baby is still holding the angular object after a minute, gently open your baby's hand and remove the object
  4. Similar to the cylindrical object, immediately re-introduce the angular object. If your baby drops the object, also immediately re-introduce the object
  5. Continue this for about 8-10 times

Did you notice?

  • Your baby started dropping the cylindrical object more frequent as you continued to re-introduce the same object. This haptic recognition shows that your baby is processing and encoding the object and the more frequent drops can means that they are familiar with the object and is ready for something new.
  • Once you introduced the angular object, the holding time of the object increased again. As with older toddlers, new toys can stimulate different senses. 
  • Overall, your baby held onto the angular object longer than the cylinder object. Why is that? There are specific types of hardness, texture and size of objects that newborns tend to gravitate to and trigger their reflexes more easily than others.

This experiments shows that your baby can retain information, be familiar with an object, and notice new objects with different sensory mediums. All of which is the elementary kind of learning (Streri, Lhote & Dutilleul 2000)

Want to learn more? Click here to read about "What is Haptic Perception?"

Remember to consistently change toys to continue stimulating their senses. Haptic habitation will allow memories to form which are the building blocks of cognitive development.

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Related Topic: Common Baby Grasps