a toddler pulls the zipper on a purse

Toddler learns to pull a zipper

pincer grasp

For babies who have learned to use their pincer grasp, a fun game for them is to learn to pull a zipper.  The development of the pincer grasp is strengthened when baby needs to hold an item, such as a zipper pull, between her thumb and first finger as she moves it.  A zipper on a purse, a wallet, a cosmetic bag, or your jacket are fun for her to learn to manipulate.     Try holding the ends of the zipper for her at first, so she can pull the zipper and learn how it works.  Soon, on a smaller item such as a cosmetic bag or wallet, she can hold the item steady with one hand while unzipping the zipper with her other hand.  She may even need you to show her how to hold the zipper pull with her thumb and first index finger (pincer grasp). Look closely at her hand to observe how she is developing her fine motor skills.

Always closely supervise baby as she opens a purse or wallet that may contain items that are not baby-proof, such as coins, paperclips, pens, and other small or sharp objects.  You may want to find a purse and place interesting and baby-proofed items inside for her to discover when she successfully unzips the purse.  She will enjoy the process of discovering the same items are in the bag each time she opens it.  Another dimension of fun for speech development is added if you say “ZIP-ZIP-ZIP” or “ZIP-PER” each time you move the zipper pull to open or close the zipper.  They are intrigued by the sound of the word and will watch you say it each time.

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