Arms and Hands

Have you ever thought about how much you use your arms and hands? And yet, it is not often an area as adults that we often request to be massaged.

From the moment your baby is born they will be learning what these ‘things’ attached to their body are for. Their arm movements will be quite uncoordinated, jerky and involuntary to begin with as they start to explore the world around them. The arms and hands first respond to stimuli and movement connected to what have been described as ‘primitive reflexes’ (as mentioned earlier in the Legs & Feet Module).

Chances are you have already found their ‘grasp’ reflex when you put your finger or thumb in their palm. This is a survival instinct to hold on, as if they were monkeys holding on to their mothers hair while she moved through the forest. When you feed (bottle or breast) your baby and watch their hands you may observe a small pump like action – another involuntary response. And take time to observe your baby’s arms when they are on the floor or when you pick them up and play with them, their body is learning all the time – check out the Reflex Positions below.

Their hands and arms will grow and develop with every opportunity to move and explore. The most important discovery your baby’s hands will make in the first 4-6 months is ‘finding their feet’. This will come after plenty of floor time and practice, with the foot going in the mouth soon after. This is all part of their journey to smooth, coordinated and voluntary movement. Coordinating the arms and legs together is needed for milestones such as sitting, rolling and crawling, self-sensory input increases self-awareness, movement of the foot to the mouth gains full access to all the joints of the hips, knees and ankles, and core strength is developed.

Finding their feet is the pre-curser to rolling (from back to front). They soon learn what happens when one leg and arm combination moves away from their body. Try it yourself – lie flat on your back and try to roll. Then lie on your back, grab your feet, drop your right hand and foot out to the right – what happens? Effortless movement.

  • rotation
  • weight transfer
  • crossing their midline (see Passive Movement Module)
  • moving from one position to another

The arms and hands, along with the legs and feet are critical in the development of their body and brains. The arms will support your baby when they lie on their tummy, when they crawl, when they start to stand and balance. So best we give them some attention.