Palmar Grasp Reflex

The palmar grasp reflex is all about how your baby reacts to objects that are placed in his or her hand. When you place an object in your child’s hand, the grasp reflex will instinctively be displayed as the baby grabs hold of the newly acquired item. You will also notice that if you try to take the object out of your baby’s palm, the grasp reflex will make the grip he has on it that much tighter. The grasp reflex starts to show when your baby enters the 11th to 15th week of gestation. In fact, in some sonography, you may even see your baby involuntarily grabbing the umbilical cord. You will notice that once your baby reaches three or four months of age, the grasp reflex becomes less apparent. According to Doman (Doman & Doman 2005:78) your baby’s first manual program will consist of stimulating the grasp reflex. This will grow the manual competence areas of the brain by establishing, reinforcing and strengthening the grasp reflex. By doing this you will help your baby to achieve the next manual stage (to open the hands and let go of an object) more easily. Place your baby on his/her back facing you. Press both your index fingers gently in both your baby’s fists. You will feel baby’s grasp tighten and then slowly begin to pull baby toward you. Lift baby off his/her back when baby has some head control. Have baby maintain this grasp for a few seconds before lowering him/her gently onto his/her back. Remember to praise baby on a good job done!


Doman, G. & Doman, J., 2005, How smart is your baby? Develop and nurture your newborn’s full potential, Square One Publishers, New York.

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