Ask An Expert: What to Serve Baby to Develop Pincer Grasp

By Melanie Potock 

Melanie Potock, MA, CCC-SLPis an international speaker on the topic of feeding babies, toddlers and school age kids. She is the co-author of the award-winning Raising a Healthy Happy Eater: A Stage-by-Stage Guide to Setting Your Child on the Path to Adventurous Eating (2015) and Baby Self-Feeding: Solutions for Introducing Purees and Solids to Create Lifelong Healthy Eating Habits (2016). The tips in her cookbook for parents & kids, Adventures in Veggieland: Help Your Kids Learn to Love Vegetables with 100 Easy Activities and Recipes (2018) are based on the latest research and Melanie’s 20 years of success as a pediatric feeding therapist. Melanie’s children’s book You are Not an Otter takes preschoolers on a food adventure, exploring all the ways that various animals eat! Melanie’s advice has been shared in a variety of television and print media, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Parents Magazine.  Contact her at for more articles, professional tips, and helpful videos to raise your adventurous eater and follow Mel on Instagram and Facebook too!

Did you know the pincer grasp isn’t mastered till 12 months of age, but starts emerging as a raking motion in a 6-month-old?   Long strips of avocado or baked, skinless apple is terrific, but don’t just offer strips at this age.  Remember to offer smaller pieces of safe, squishable foods.  Baby needs lots of opportunities to practice raking up the small pieces to develop the more precise pincer grasp. Whether you’re following a baby-led, self-feeding or hybrid feeding approach, your role is to provide safe learning opportunities to boost along feeding skills.

To boost along pincer grasp development, choose a bowl that GRIPS the table.  Choose a bowl that baby can GRIP to stabilize one hand, while the other hand practices the pincer movement.  See how the baby in the photo has one hand on the @grabease divided bowl, while it sticks securely to the table?  The other hand is reaching in to rake, but with practice baby will shift to the thumb & forefinger or pincer grasp.  The deep sides of the bowl provide added stability to the rest of the hand while the thumb  & forefinger reach out for the smaller pieces.

Learning to eat involves fine motor skills and stability in baby’s trunk, and often via the stable grip of the other hand.  Offering small pieces, perhaps cut into pea-sized cubes coated in breadcrumbs for our littlest eaters, means your parenting proactively & giving your baby every opportunity to develop the skills for more advanced foods in the future.