Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Is Your Baby a Lefty?

Ever wonder if your baby is right handed or left handed?  I've been wondering about my son lately.  I've never really paid close attention but he seemed to use both hands really well.  So I decided to do some research to see how early signs appear in children and how to tell if he/she is right handed or left handed.

This is what I found:

  • Signs of which hand your child prefer can show as early as 6 months!
  • Right or left handed-ness can be genetic, for example if you and your partner are both left handed, there is about 45-50% your child will be. (About 10% of population are left handed)
  • Some children may be ambidextrous up until about 5-6 years old.
  • It is said that if your baby is using one hand exclusively before 18 months old it could be a sign of motor development problems, therefore you should talk to your pediatrician.

Try doing these things and observe what your baby does:

  • Hand him/her a toy and see which hand he reaches out with.
  • Observe when he/she is eating.
  • For older toddlers see which way he/she stirs or turns things.  Left handers will turn things counter-clock wise.

Remember, don't jump into conclusions whether your baby is right handed or left handed, since some children don't show hand dominance until 5-6 years old.  But if you are strongly convinced that your child is left handed, support him/her with left handed tools such as scissors and baseball gloves.  And do discuss with your pediatrician!

If you find that your child is left handed:
  • There is a great site for left handed children.  www.lefthandedchildren.org
  • Be supportive.  Make sure your child has lefty equipment.
  • He/she can use the same computer mouse as right handers.  A really useful piece of free software called SwapMouseButtons can be downloaded to your desktop.  It allows you to reverse mouse buttons using the F12 key as a toggle switch.  It is available at http://members.jcom.home.ne.jp/mtpsoft/swapmousebuttons/
  • Keep an eye out for your child for we live in a right handed society.  Total Health reports that left-handedness can increase the risk of unintentional injury since everything - hand tools, machines - is made for right handers.

  • Don't ever force or influence your child for hand dominance.  This is not healthy and may confuse and frustrate her along the way.

My son uses both hands really well, but he seems to do more things with his right hand.  Of course it's too early to conclude, but now I have some resources and I know what I will do and support if I find that he's a lefty.

-Nerdy Mom

Source:  Laura Jana Pediatrician babycenter.com
 Parenting the Preschooler www.uwex.edu/ces/flp/pp/

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