DEVELOPMENT OF THE PINCER GRASP
When babies reach the end of their first year milestones, one of the significant fine motor skills to learn is the pincer grasp. This is the skill of picking up something rather small or thin by using the thumb and first finger of the same hand. Often parents feed baby a bowl of cheerios to teach them this skill since baby has to pick up each tiny “O” with their thumb and first finger. One of the challenging aspects of this skill development is letting go of the object. For example, a baby needs to learn how to pick up the cheerio, put it in her mouth and then let go. Sometimes babies learn to pick up coins and drop them into a water bottle. However, coins are small and may be a choking hazard so a baby should only use coins when very closely supervised. In the photo below you can see the size of a real quarter next to the fake coins for this piggy bank. The larger coins are safer and good practice for developing finger dexterity. Soon, parents can closely supervise baby as she tries picking up real coins which will develop even more skill due to their smaller size.
PIGGY BANKS AND BABY DEVELOPMENT
One of the best baby toys to develop the fine motor skills of the pincer grasp and letting go of an object is the Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn: Learning Piggy Bank. It is also a great toy to begin teaching baby how to count and colors for toddlers. In the above video from PunkFarter’s youtube channel, the baby is learning to pick up the coin and push it in the slot. It requires a considerable amount of finger dexterity to line up the coin with the opening. When this piggy bank is switched to one of the “on” settings, the pig counts when each coin is deposited, “1……2…….3,” etc. The second of the two settings plays a song which is to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell.” I often encourage parents to do what they have done in the above video which is to either turn the toy off/remove the battery and create the sound effects yourself. Babies love to hear these unexpected sounds and may eventually may try and make the sound themselves!
PIGGY BANKS AND SPATIAL AWARENESS
The clear door on one side of this piggy bank allows baby to see where the coins go as she drops them inside. This is an important concept of spatial orientation. Babies learn the difference between an object being “inside the piggy bank” versus “outside the piggy bank.” When we learn spatial orientation we learn where we are in space and where objects around us are in space. Babies also learn to “open the door” of the piggy bank and to “close the door.” Let’s hope they also learn how to “save” versus how to “spend!”