How to Find Out Your Baby’s Dominant Hand
According to leading pediatrician Deena Blanchard, there are ways to determine your child's hand preference. Learn how here!
Parents are absolutely enamoured with each developmental milestone of their children. Whether it’s a child learning to walk, learning to talk, or everything in between, parents can’t help but be fascinated with watching their children grow and develop. One of the many things parents are able to track as their children grow is a child’s handedness or hand dominance.
More often than not, a child will grow up to be right-handed; approximately 90 percent of the population is right-handed. This means that only a small percent of the population is left-handed and an even smaller percentage can use both hands (ambidextrous) so it’s typically a safe bet to assume your child will prefer using their right hand as opposed to their left.
Sure, it’s safe to assume that they’ll be right-handed, but what if there were a more definitive way for a parent to determine which hand will be their child’s dominant hand? According to Deena Blanchard, MD, there is.
Before we dive into the ways in which a parent can determine a kid’s handedness, it’s important to note that early on in a child’s development, they’ll be actively using both hands. It’s partly how they develop their motor skills and it’s often too early to tell your child’s hand dominance before the age of one. In fact, Blanchard suggests that if your child displays significant hand preference before their first birthday you should contact a paediatrician immediately. If this is the case, your child may have problems developing their motor skills.
Hand dominance is typically determined around the two to three-year mark. However, Blanchard asserts that “[s]ome children will show a hand preference as early as 15- to 18-months-old and some will not choose a dominant hand until age 5 or 6.”
Genetics is one of the biggest components of determining your kid’s handedness, though experts still aren’t entirely sure why. As a small example of the impact of genetics on hand preference, it’s been proven that boys are twice as likely to be left-handed than girls.
Ways to determine your child's handedness
Parents' genetics may be a leading factor in determining a child's hand dominance, but there are ways in which mums and dads can keep track of which hand their child will eventually prefer. Here are leading paediatrician Deena Blanchard suggestions:
"To get a sense of whether your child will be right- or left-handed, watch which hand he uses for common tasks, such as picking up a toy or feeding himself. You can also look at what direction your child stirs a pot during pretend play; if he stirs counterclockwise, it’s more likely that he’s left-handed. Another clue to whether your child will be right- or left-handed is which hand he uses to hold a crayon. And, when you roll a ball to your toddler, he’ll usually reach for the ball with his dominant hand."
While many parents believe that training a child to prefer one hand over the other (or even to use both hands) is beneficial, quite the opposite is true. In fact, Blanchard believes that you should avoid trying to "hand train" children altogether:
"[S]ome part of hand dominance is neurologically hard-wired. Trying to force her to learn to use her non-dominant hand will only lead to frustration and lack of confidence. It also will prevent her from performing tasks to the best of her ability, which can damage her self-esteem."
At the end of the day, whether your child is part of the overwhelming population of right-handed people, the lesser population of left-handed people, or the rare population of ambidextrous people, it's part of their neurological development. Parents shouldn't strive to alter their baby's hand preference, but instead should be encouraged to embrace whichever hand is chosen to be the dominant hand.