baby letting go of stacking cup

Grasp and Release Activities for Babies

Babies are born with the reflexive ability to grasp. While a newborn grasping your finger will melt any new parent’s heart, your 3-week-old baby isn’t doing this intentionally. Around 2 months of age, their grasp does become more intentional. And around 3-4 months of age, they will gain the ability to reach out for things to grasp.

Once babies are able to grasp objects, they can also drop them. But there is a difference between a baby dropping an object versus intentionally opening to their hand to let it go. The latter skill is referred to as voluntary release. Voluntary release begins around 8-9 months of age. At this age, babies can drop things on purpose. And by 9-10 months they will be learning how to release objects into a specific target.

Over time your child will go from intentional dropping food from their highchair, to helping put toys away, to putting puzzle pieces in a puzzle. All of these activities require the skill of voluntary release.

baby releasing block

Activities for Grasp and Release

The following activities are listed by level of difficulty, easiest to most difficult. The easier activities are great for babies ages 6 to 10 months. By 18-24 months, your child should be able to do the most difficult.

Other Activities That Support Release and Grasp Skills

baby playing with ball

If your baby is having a hard time with voluntary release, practice other lower level fine motor skills that typically come before voluntary release. This includes:

  • Reaching and grasping toys
  • Banging and shaking toys
  • Transferring toys from one hand to another (you can encourage this by offering a second toy to the same hand already holding a toy)
    • The O-ball is my favorite toy to practice transferring with
  • Taking objects out of a container
  • Dumping containers out (and you can model how to put them back in!)

If your baby is having a hard time reaching out for toys, read our article How To Help Baby Reach for Toys

Letting go of an object on purpose may seem like a simple skill, but like all skills babies learn, it is actually quite complex and involves several different skill areas coming together! While it may seem just like a fine motor activity, it also requires strong cognitive skills as well. Babies also need to have strong gross motor skills to hold their body upright in order to manipulate objects.

If your baby is 10-12 months old and still not able to release objects on purpose, have them evaluated by an occupational therapist! Questions? Contact us here!

This post contains affiliate links

For 10% off all Tubby Todd purchases, use my discount link!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: