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Learning to Get a Grip

Your baby's grasping abilities will take big leaps in the next few months. Here are a few of the handy skills he'll be demonstrating:

Basic grabbing. At 9 months, your little guy will be picking up handfuls of Cheerios with four fingers opposing his thumb  -- an activity that can keep him focused in concentration for several minutes at a time.

Transferring toys. Your baby is also probably adept at switching objects from one hand to another.

Releasing objects. Once he learns to let go of objects, it may seem as though his favorite game is to open his clenched fist full of Cheerios onto the floor  -- and leave you to clean up the mess. Sure, the game of "drop and pick up" may not be number one on your list. But hey  -- at least this tedious activity will help him learn the concept of cause-and-effect.

Pincer grasp. By the end of his first year, he'll develop a pincer grasp, where his forefinger opposes his thumb. Watch him delicately select the choicest Cheerio from a pile, and pop it deliberately into his mouth.

After he masters this skill, you can move on to even more complex play; offer him two maracas to hold at once and see what happens.

Yes, your handy man may soon become a handful, grabbing everything. Just keep in mind that practice makes perfect, and try to have only safe objects within his reach.