BABY’S HANDS: USEFUL EVERY DAY FOR A LIFETIME:  Baby’s hand use and manual development.




Your child’s ONSDEP: Her hand use and manual development intentions: 


  • To skilfully use both hands at once, with one hand playing the supportive role and one hand becoming dominant. In other words: To become left handed or right handed.



Doing two things at once, more often:


As in Level 5 your child continues to improve her ability to use her hands independently at the same time. The main difference between Level 5 activities and Level 6 activities is that Level 6 activities require, and develop, a higher level of skill. For example at Level 5 children usually need to have repeated experiences pouring from one container into another while holding the second container on a solid surface.  At Level 6 your child is becoming sufficiently skilful to begin pouring from a (small) jug held in one hand into a (small) cup held in the other hand, (but spills can still be expected). 


Children at Level 6 are still developing the basic brain structure that will eventually enable them to, for example, drive a car using one hand to steer and one hand to change gears.  In Level 5 a list of some other two handed skills was provided and it is probably helpful to re-read that list now.


Activities at Level 6 that help your child to develop and move onto Level 7 are: 


Pulling almost any toy, carton, machine or object to pieces and, if possible, putting it back together again. 


Helping to do the washing up.


Undoing a large button and putting it back through the buttonhole.


Pushing a trolley using both hands.


Using both hands to pull weeds from the garden.


Pulling in a rope; hand over hand: A one kilogram weight (a brick or other object) is tied to the end of a rope over 5 meters long and thrown across a yard or into a pond. Your child then pulls the rope in. 




Turning pages with one hand while holding a book.


Removing the top from a pen and putting it back on.


Unwrapping and wrapping parcels.


Spreading mashed avocado or other soft spread on coconut tortillas or bread.


Pouring from a small jug about the size of a cup into a tumbler or cup. 


Gentle pillow fights.


Trampoline activities when the hands are used on the mat to steady the child.


Climbing trees and ladders.


Playing musical instruments such as piano or violin using both hands.


With a little thought parents can plan other activities that require children to use both hands at once but with each hand doing something different.



Brachiation level 6.  


Physical support from a parent is still required to assist your child at the beginning of Level 6. Gradually, your child can be allowed to carry more and more of her own weight until she is brachiating independently, that is, without any need for a parent to swing her or hold her at all.  


Enthusiastic brachiating by parents and other family members will probably still be required however; even when your child is brachiating independently, because sharing in family fun is usually a primary motivator for your child. If other family members show a positive interest in brachiation then your child will likely develop a similar positive interest. If other family members show disinterest in brachiation then your child will likely develop a similar disinterest. A positive brachiating environment usually has the opposite effect on your child to a negative brachiating environment. Use a variety of approaches to brachiation to make brachiating more interesting for your child. Rereading the previous Levels can be helpful in this regard.  


In this Level 6 your child is gradually given more freedom to fully carry her own weight and to become an independent brachiator. As an independent brachiator your child will fully support 100% of her own weight and she will not require any assistance to swing. Parental help will no longer be required to support your child’s weight or to help her swing.  Nevertheless, parental encouragement by cheering her brachiating, organising interesting ways to brachiate and other positive psychological support will probably still be required. 




Activities for parents and children:


  1. Whenever your child wants a drink put some water into a small jug that will hold about a cupful of water. Then give the jug and a cup to her so that she can pour the water from the jug into the cup. Avoid allowing her to drink from the jug or she might not want to revert to using the cup.


  1. Ten times each day do the following:


Select one of the activities from the list above (including suitable activities you devise yourself, if any) and spend five to ten minutes doing it with your child. Choose an activity that you would not normally do.


The number of minutes that you do any activity will vary according to the activity and your child’s level of interest in it. The activity chosen should, at least to some extent, vary from day to day. For example you may be outside walking for an hour and climb two trees for ten minutes each on one day. Other days might be spent inside your home and washing up, button holing and sandwich making may be more appropriate activities then.  Some activities such as turning book pages may only last for, say, one minute and this short time can be added to other activities to total five minutes.


  1. Each day provide many opportunities for your child to use both hands at once, but with each hand doing something different. Reading the list above might help you to generate other ideas. 


  1. Put your child into environments that help her to develop. For example, help her to climb a ladder (with rungs) or a tree. Stand next to the tree or ladder and lightly hold onto her for safety while she uses her hands to hold, pull and push. If you haven’t yet done so enquire about the Suzuki music learning method and begin daily music practice at home.


  1. Try to obtain one of the commercially available games that have names such as ‘Stacko’ or ‘Stack it’. These games consist of about 60 wooden or plastic beams about 10cm long and about 2cm thick. The beams are stacked on top of each other with four or more at each level. Then each player takes a turn at removing one beam without causing the stack to fall down. Help your child to learn to play this game over the next twelve months. Play it for 10 minutes every two or three days.


Brachiation Activities:


Begin with your child supporting 75% of her own weight.  A parent therefore supports 25% of the child’s weight. Your child should brachiate one length of the ladder eleven times each day.


Begin to gradually withdraw your support for your child’s weight and her swinging. This is a gradual withdrawal process that could take six or 12 months. 


Each month increase the number of daily lengths brachiated by about one or two as shown in the table to the right. 


Your child moves on to Level 7 when she can independently and enjoyably brachiate the length of the brachiation ladder 20 times in one day.


When your child can brachiate independently show her how she can turn at the end of a lap and then do another lap. Gradually introduce doing two laps instead of one at each brachiation session and gradually reduce to doing only 12 brachiation sessions (of two laps in each session) each day.


In total Level 6 brachiation is likely to last for between 12 to 18 months.



What your child should be doing at this Level of development:


  • Using both hands to do two different jobs at the same time. 


  • While doing the activities and play at this Level your child should begin to more and more often use one hand in preference to the other. That is, she will begin to show that she is left or right handed.  She may switch from being left-handed one week to being right-handed the next, this is not unusual but eventually she will settle into being left or right-handed. 


What your child should be doing as she enters the next Level of development:


  • Using one hand (either right or left) as her preferred hand for tasks and skills such as holding a pencil when drawing and when picking up objects.


When baby can do as above she graduates to Level 7 of Baby's Hands. Click on the diploma below to move on to Level 7.

An average child is likely to move on to Level 7 at approximately age 6 years. 


A child could potentially move on to Level 7 at approximately age 3 years.
















Number of daily brachiation ladder laps


Rapid increase

Slower increase