Pincer grasp and neat pincer grasp are precision fine motor skills that develop when babies start to pick up cereal in self-feeding.  The developmental skill is essential for development of fine motor skills and manipulation of toys and items in play and discovery.  These neat pincer grasp activities are creative ways that can help kids develop the small motor skill area.

Pincer Grasp


Neat pincer grasp activities for kids to develop dexterity and fine motor skills.


Neat Pincer Grasp Activities

Neat pincer grasp uses the tips of the thumb and pointer finger to stabilize objects.  When using a pincer grasp, children use the pads of the thumb and finger to stabilize the object.  

Inferior pincer grasp begins at 6-9 months. Before a true pincer grasp is established, you’ll notice a lateral pincer grasp, or an inferior pincer grasp. This progression begins as a raking motion from the fingers to grasp at the food pieces, but this movement is typically not successful in picking up small foods like baby puff snacks. The next stage of pincer grasp development progresses as the baby uses the lateral side of the index finger and the thumb to pick up small food pieces using the thumb and the side of the pointer finger to grasp items (not a true pincer grasp).

Pincer grasp develops around 9-12 months of age.  This is when you see the baby pick up baby puffs and small chunks of food pieces to pick up the items with the thumb and the pad of the index finger.

Neat pincer grasp develops between 12-18 months and is a much finer skill. This is a common part of feeding developmental milestone achievement which allows babies to pick up and then feed themselves using that pincer grasp. This is when you will see babies pick up small crumbs from the carpet. Baby proofing takes on a whole new level once pincer grasp has developed!

What is Neat Pincer Grasp?

Neat pincer grasp is used to pick up very small items such as perler beads, a thread from a surface, or a needle.  You might see the tip-to-tip grasp to pick up a sequin or fuzz from clothing.

Think about the “ok” sign with the thumb and pointer finger touching and a nice round “O” in the thumb web space.  That tip-to-tip pinch is neat pincer grasp.

If neat pincer grasp is not developed, kids can potentially present with less thumb IP joint flexion and difficulty opening the thumb web space when manipulating very small items.  This can lead to fumbling and decreased dexterity during fine motor tasks.

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Ways to build pincer grasp:

Pick up sequins.
Pick up toothpicks.
Stick embroidery thread to contact paper.  Then pick up back up.
Peel tape.  Try this process art activity to stick and peel paint to address neat pincer grasp for fine motor skills.
Pick up and peel stickers.
Pick up and use very small beads like these 2 mm. glass beads in crafts.
Make crafts with fishing line.
Create string art.
Try peeling tape in a group activity.
Pick up small pasta in a sensory play activity.
Pick up and manipulate pasta in a fine motor color match activity with play dough.
Thread feathers.
Pick up grass seed to work on letter formation. (Grass seed is very small!)
Play with clothes pins to work on grasp.
Drop thread into a sensory bottle.


Neat pincer grasp activities for kids to develop dexterity and fine motor skills.

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In the Fine Motor Kits here on our website, you’ll find many precision activities that support development of pincer grasp. Specifically, there are tearing activities, crumbling activities, pinch activities, and other hand strengthening activities using themed fine motor activities.

Use these Fine Motor Kits for hands-on activity kits to develop fine motor skills, strength, dexterity, and manipulation. Kids LOVE these fine motor kits for the motivating activities. Therapists love them because it’s fresh, fun ways to work on pinch, grip, manipulation skills, and much more. Try some of these themed therapy kits:

Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to

pincer grasp activities