6-Month-Old Opening And Closing Hands Often (Is It A Milestone?)

It’s absolutely normal for babies at the age of 6 months to open and close their hands frequently. They have just discovered what their hands are capable of doing. So, they keep trying to do different things with their hands, like opening and closing them to see how it feels, trying and pick up a toy after opening their hands, or even closing their hands before they even picked up the toy. All these indicate that your child is constantly learning and realizing what she’s capable of doing now. Give it time, and soon, you’ll even see your child picking up the toy and throwing it far away to test out their upgraded capability.

Hi, dear worried-parent,

It’s very easy for parents to panic and dwell over very minute things their baby does, especially when they’re first-time parents. If you’ve no experience of looking after a baby before or even spent enough days with a baby ever in your life, questions like these are bound to pop up multiple times every day.

From the day a child is born, a mother is born too. So, it’s not only a child who learns and discovers new things almost every day of her life. Even a mother learns and frequently questions her child’s behavior.

Things that don’t seem normal to you or when you haven’t heard babies doing something will probably worry you if your own child starts doing it.

For example, when my son started walking, he would walk on his toes, and I’d constantly worry about this because I’ve never seen any other child doing this, but then I realized that the reason he’s doing it is simply that he can.

There was nothing wrong with him or his legs. He sometimes walks a few steps on his toes because it was fun for him to balance his body that way. Being a first-time mother, I’d constantly worry about everything my son does, but sometimes you need to take a back seat, have a clear mind, and observe your child.

If you still worry or if something still feels wrong, then consult your child’s pediatrician.

Why does my 6 month old close and open her hand often?

An infant girl is playing with a toy, and doing other things that show she's achieving her milestones.

The simple answer I’d tell you too is- she’s doing it because she can. You need to remember that when your baby was 3-months-old, she has just discovered her hands but can’t really do anything about it.

As she grows, she learns what her hands are capable of doing. This can include touching her face, trying to insert her fist in her mouth, and slowly learning to only put a finger in her mouth, or trying to touch you or pull your hair.

At the age of 5 months, I had taken multiple 5-10 minutes long videos of my son being mesmerized by his hands like it’s the most magical thing in the world and would constantly open and close them.

It was funny and weird because he’d be playing or laughing and suddenly is completely spell-bound by his hands, and this went on till he learned how to pick up toys and throw them at me. (Ah, the good old days)

Your baby in their first year of life lays many foundations of fine motor skills. After the age of 1, babies then go on to master these skills. Later in life, these skills will help them become more independent, communicate, and learn how their bodies work.

As and when your baby grows, they start upgrading their skills, like by the age of 3 months they have just discovered their hands, by the time they’re 4 months, they’ll try reaching out for their favorite toy or your hair.

By the age of 6 or 7 months, your baby has now mastered the skill of holding a toy or grabbing your face. So, they won’t just try to hold a toy but instead start shaking or banging the toy. These milestones might seem so silly and easy for us, but it takes them weeks and months just to learn how to hold a spoon and take it to their mouth.

Even after learning how to reach out and pick up a toy, they still haven’t learned how to release their hold, and this can too take up multiple attempts and days to learn to simply drop the toy.

You might’ve seen your newborn has clenched a toy in her hand tightly, but come rain or shine- she doesn’t seem to release the toy. It’s not because she loves that toy dearly, but because she still hasn’t learned how to open her fist and drop the toy.

So, babies tend to do different things with their hands at different stages of their lives, and as they grow, they’ll achieve their developmental milestones.

Fine motor milestone chart

0-3 months

  • Reflexive grasp
  • Discovers their hands
  • Brings hands to mouth
  • Might open clench fist when they’re full
  • Move their arms
  • May try to reach for toys hanging above them

3-6 months

  • Starts holding toys in their hands
  • Reaches out for toys with both hands
  • Starts holding hands together
  • Follows objects or people with eyes in all directions
  • Try to push up with their arm during tummy time

6-9 months

  • Will start to pick up objects with a raking grasp
  • Reaches, grasps and puts the toy in mouth
  • Shakes and bangs toys upon holding them
  • Start to transfer objects from one hand to other
  • May start developing pincer grasp (using thumb and index finger )

9-12 months

  • Drops and picks up objects
  • Controlled release of objects
  • May start giving their toy to caregiver when asked
  • Starts pointing objects like fan or light
  • Able to turn pages from their board books

When to reach out to your pediatrician

Every child is different, and the rate of learning and discovering things are often at different rates too.

So, a child who can sit on his own at the age of 8 months isn’t necessarily behind from the child who can sit with very little support at the age of 6 months, because even though the former baby is 2 months behind, she has still achieved the milestone earlier as a baby starts to sit without any support at the age of 9 months.

So, try not to compare your kids with others or among themselves. If you’re still unsure or need any reassurance, consult your pediatrician about your child’s developmental milestones.

But, there are still certain ‘red flags’ you shouldn’t ignore like:

  • Your baby hasn’t yet discovered her hands by 3 months of age.
  • Your baby isn’t able to hold your finger or her head by 3 months.
  • By 4 months, your baby isn’t trying to grab any toys.
  • By 1 year, your baby doesn’t wave or shakes her head “no”, or points out objects.


Is opening and closing hands often at 6 months a sign of autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorder can only be detected as early as 18months of age. But, a baby at 6 months opens and closes hands because she has just realized what her hands are capable of doing and is learning to pick and drop a toy.

How many times should 6 months old eat solids in a day?

If you’re just beginning, start feeding solids from one meal a day and build up to 2-3 times a day after a few weeks.

Why does my 6-month-old child keep shouting?

It’s absolutely normal for babies between the age of 6 and 8 months to shout or screech because they have learned that they have a voice and that you will respond every time they become vocal.


So, as tempting as it is to panic about every single thing when it comes to our precious bundle of joy, don’t.

Relax, and enjoy this time with your little one, because as I said, she’s going to grow up soon and will discover much more than closing and opening hands (better baby-proof your vanity drawers.)

If you’re still worried about your little one’s development, consult the doctor on your baby’s next vaccination appointment and clear your doubts.

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Located in India and a mother to a joyfully mischievous son, Kelin is the wife of the world’s most patient man and a busy homemaker. When she’s not busy cooking and running after her kid,  you can find her in a corner reading, or penning down words on her laptop. She believes the world will always try to instil ‘mom guilt’ in new mothers, but she goes by the maxim ‘a mother knows best'.

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