In the initial months after delivery, your baby will not realise that he/she is an individual with a distinct identity. With time, he/she would start sensing that he/she has two arms, two legs, and with that realisation, he/she will start moving them around and try playing with them. Babies will start exploring their surroundings with their hands, reaching out, swatting at, and grasping for their favourite toy.
Grasping is an important milestone that sets in anytime after the third or fourth month. It starts as a reflex action and it will keep on developing, and by around the baby’s first birthday, he/she would have developed hand-eye coordination and some firmness in his/her fingers to pick up and hold things securely.
But learning to play with his/her hands and feet does not take that long for the baby to master. He/she will begin to notice his/her hands and feet, and derive a great deal of entertainment and amusement, by noticing that he/she can in some little way manipulate the position of his/her limbs.
His/her limbs soon learn new tricks. By the end of the third month, he/she stretches out both his/her arms and legs and begins to move them around more freely.
Then he will reach out and use his/her hands to explore the area around him/her. During the second month, he will begin to unfold them partially and swipe aimlessly. By the third month, the hands remain half-open most of the time.
It is at this stage that your baby will realise that his/her hands are wonderful toys and a part of himself/herself. Your baby will play with hands in front of the face, exploring one hand with the other and sucking on his/her fingers and fists.
During this time, he/she will also start enjoying staring at his/her hands, playing with the fingers, and bringing his/her hands or a toy to his/her mouth.
Parents should greatly incentivise this learning process. They should try holding their baby’s arms and flex them slowly to give their child a hint as to how the fingers and elbows move. The same can be done with the legs, toes, and knee joints. They should also enact simple hand and feet movements in front of their little one so he/she can try imitating the moves.