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Infants » Newborn Development

Newborn Arm Movements

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Hello Susan:

I have a first grandchild. From the earliest days, I notice that she seemed unable to get her fist to her mouth (I’m not sure whether this is just with one hand or both). She gets it about an inch away, Lately, my daughter says that she takes the other hand and “pushes” the first one so that she gets a finger or thumb into her mouth. My daughter and family have recently moved to England, so she has not yet taken the baby to a doctor there for her regular checkups. Should this be something to keep an eye on? Is it a little unusual, or does it fall under “normal”?

Thank you for your interest,


Dear Tammy

It is very typical in the early weeks for infants to approximate the distance inaccurately hand-to-mouth.

By 3-4 months accuracy should be established and an infants hands become extensions of their arms as she reaches about with somewhat jerky movements. If she is reaching out and making attempts at an awkward “grasp” then all is well. Some infants are a bit jerky and “miss” their targets when they reach and grasp. Be sure your daughter gets a well baby check-up soon.

Thank you for writing in!

Susan Turben, Ph.D.

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