Reaching with primarily left hand only at almost 7 months

Hello! I got great advice from this forum a couple of weeks ago on rolling, and I hate to bother you all again but I’m having a hard time getting a clear answer online (and we have not had great confidence in our pediatrician’s evals of this kind of thing). My almost 7 month old reaches for toys/spoons with his left hand probably 90% of the time. We put toys to his right side, and he still reaches across his body to get them with his left instead of using his right hand. When he’s on his back at an activity gym (which he doesn’t tolerate much anymore because he prefers to be on his tummy), he does reach with both hands, but he strongly prefers his left if he’s sitting (which is a new skill for him) or on his tummy. I saw on Starfishtherapy blog that using one hand predominantly was a red flag at 9 months - so is it okay to be doing that at 6-7 months? One side may just be developing more slowly? Thank you!

Hi! I think with regards to the red flags it’s that they aren’t using the other hand at all. It sounds like he can use it, he is strongly preferring the one side. Congrats on the sitting! I definitely have more questions for you. Did he have any tightness like a torticollis early on? Did he have reflux? Does he do things like rolling to both sides? I also love that he prefers tummy time! It could be that he uses one side to stabilize more than the other which is why he will reach with both hands when on his back because he’s pretty stable. If you give him support on the left to stabilize, will he reach with his right? Sorry for all the questions and I’m glad you are asking! It’s always better to find out.

We are thrilled that you found our community so helpful and appreciate you coming back with more questions! This is exactly the purpose of this forum :partying_face::partying_face::partying_face:

I definitely have the same questions as @Starfishtherapies, also, does he use both sides equally to hold his bottle or a cup? Does he use both hands together to manipulate or hold a toy? If you interact with him on his right side, does he turn towards you the same way he does when you’re on his left?

Also, in sitting, if you hold his left hand while trying to get him to reach with his right, will he do it? Sometimes we need to just give that extra push and exposure to show baby that he can.
There are so many factors that can contribute to side preferences-vision, muscle strength, muscle tightness etc. so understanding a bit more can help figure out the source of the preference.

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Wow, this forum is amazing - 2 replies from expert PTs on a Saturday? I’m so grateful for the advice.

He did not have torticollis, but he does have a preference to turn his head to the left when he sleeps, although he’ll move it to the right in the middle of the night. There’s no noticeable head-turning preference when he’s awake and he can turn it equally in both directions. He is much better at rolling to his left. Actually, my first question on this site a couple of weeks ago was about him only rolling to his left :slight_smile: He can roll to the right now (after lots of practice!) but he usually needs a little push to go that direction.

He does have reflux, improving but not gone. He can use his right hand to reach for toys and will do it if we gently hold his left hand to the ground, but he’s definitely not as coordinated with it. He hasn’t used a bottle or cup yet, but he does use both hands sometimes when playing with toys, although more often just with his left hand. He just started transferring toys - from his right into his more coordinated left of course :grinning:

Thank you both for your time and input!

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While you haven’t noticed specific head turning preferences, I would try bringing more awareness to his right side through visual and tactile strategies with some of the following suggestions:

  1. Change the side of the car seat is on so he visually attends to the opposite side (if appropriate)

  2. When feeding him in the highchair, sit on his right side and serve him food from that direction-even place finger foods on the right side of the tray

  3. When giving him toys-hand them from his right side and encourage him to take the toys in his right hand

  4. Play with bubbles-while you blow them, have another caregiver (spouse, nanny, grandparent) hold his left hand so he reaches for them with his right hand. This activity is also great for visual tracking.

  5. Place lots of toys of different textures and sizes on his right side when he’s both on his tummy and in sitting

  6. Blow up a balloon and tap it around so he visually tracks it as it travels across his field of vision. Similar to the bubbles, try and encourage him to reach/tap with his right hand

  7. Continue practicing rolling towards his right (you can still allow him to roll to his left because symmetry is very important!)

  8. Gently massage his right arm, hand, and leg with lotion once or twice a day (maybe before getting dressed and after the bath) to awaken the muscles.

If you don’t see any improvement in the next few weeks, consider seeing an OT or PT locally and also possibly getting his vision checked.

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Yes! I agree with all of these ideas!!!

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Thank you! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate both of your time and expertise. Home therapy starts tomorrow! I feel relieved just having a plan of action :slight_smile: :slightly_smiling_face:

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Good luck and keep us posted on his progress!

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Just wanted to follow up! Baby’s doing great - after only a week of sitting on his right side, handing toys only to his right and massaging his right arm/leg, he’s reaching with both hands now and can manipulate his toys well with either hand. He still prefers his left, but the preference is hardly noticeable - and we’ll keep encouraging use of the right :slight_smile: Thanks again for your advice!

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Amazing!!! So glad to hear and thanks for updating us!

Yay!!! That’s so great!

Great news!!