When babies are born, their motor skills are constantly developing. But before long you’ll notice that your baby consistently favors one hand over the other, making them a “righty” or “lefty.”
But when will you know? That depends on your baby, according to researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In a 2013 study, scientists followed 38 babies from 6 months old until their second birthday, examining which hand the children used to pick up various objects. Their findings showed some babies showed a hand preference as infants and kept it at age 2, while those who had no hand preference as infants eventually preferred one hand to the other by the time they were 2 years old.
Interesting facts about lefties and righties:
Hand preference is usually hereditary.
Roughly 90 percent of us are right-handed.
Boys are more likely than girls to be left-handed.
Lefties may have an advantage in some sports, like baseball, where they stand a bit closer to first base, giving them a better shot at reaching the base in a close play. In basketball and soccer, they can outsmart opponents with the element of surprise, since most players dribble with their right hands or kick with their right feet.
If you’re curious about which hand your baby prefers, watch closely to see which hand your child uses to color, draw, or feed. Keep in mind your baby may not show a hand preference until age 2 or even later. Some children are ambidextrous, switching from left to right and never choosing one over the other.
No matter what your child’s preference is, experts advise against pressuring your child to choose one hand over the other or rushing the process. However, if you notice a clear hand preference early on and a lack of use of the other hand, be sure to bring this up at your child’s next pediatrician visit to rule out any abnormalities.
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- “Ages and Stages.”
Nelson EL, Campbell JM, Michel GF
- Unimanual to bimanual: tracking the development of handedness from 6 to 24 months
- Infant Behav Dev
- 2013 Apr;36(2):181-8.
Papadatou-Pastou M, Martin M, Munafò MR, Jones GV
- Sex differences in left-handedness: a meta-analysis of 144 studies
- Psychol Bull
- 2008 Sep;134(5):677-99.
The Nemours Foundation
- “Why am I left-handed?”
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