Toddler Holding Objects In Hand Constantly (Explained)

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Toddlers are a source of immense joy for their parents. There is hardly anything compared to how pleasing it is to see a toddler learn to speak, walk and do other stuff using their hands. 

Joyful as it is to see the continuous magical transformation of a growing toddler, it can cause great pressure on parents when their toddlers show unusual patterns in their physical, social, and intellectual development. 

It may be such a concerning situation for parents if they observe that their toddler always holds something in their hand. They might wonder if it is just one of those toddler things that will eventually pass away or if there is an underlying problem that needs to be addressed.

Turns out, it’s pretty normal! If your little one is always clutching something in his hand, they will phase it out. However, it can (rarely) be a sign of a sensory or coordination issue.

In this post, I’ll go over why your toddler is holding objects in their hands constantly and to look for signs that indicate an issue, and whether you should do something about it.

Why Does My Toddler Constantly Hold Some Object In Hand?

There can be several reasons behind a toddler constantly keeping something in their hand, and some differences in the behavior together with other information can be used in determining what it is.

Also Read: Toddler crossing fingers

Let’s go over these in detail:

To Get The Stimulation Needed

A child’s body and brain undergo immense development during toddlerhood, and this development needs a lot of stimulation.

Why Does My Toddler Constantly Hold Some Object

Holding objects in hand will be one way such a child gets the necessary stimulation for the growth of the muscles and coordination of hand movements as well as learning the properties of objects through tactile (touch) sensations. 

If your toddler uses both hands to hold objects and picks different objects to hold, he is likely just exercising the muscles and learning about objects using touch.

Being Attached To A Particular Object

It is not unusual for toddlers to form emotional attachments to certain objects, especially toys. It is just them wanting to keep their favorite toys close. 

The choice object will change with time in this scenario. Newer and more exciting toys will replace the old favorites.

The child would not have a problem letting go of the object he is holding whenever he needs to use his hands for other activities like eating.

Sensory Development

Some children’s brains can not process the signals from the skin, eyes, ears, tongue, nose, and the vestibule of the inner ear normally. They can be either overly sensitive (hypersensitive) or not sensitive enough (hyposensitive) to any combination of sensations. 

A toddler who has tactile hyposensitivity would seek touch sensations more often than normal – this is called tactile seeking. People often also use the terms stimming and perseveration to describe sensory-seeking behavior in general. 

If your toddler holds on to one particular object and it is hard to make him part with it, it could to be a sensory issue. 

However, having worked with hundreds of children under the age of 5, I know that many toddlers form attachments to objects such as soft toys, toy cars, handbags, personal objects belonging to a parent.

When Is Toy Or Object Attachment A Concern?

Some children’s attachments are stronger than others, and they can become attached to unusual items, such as keys, or items of clothing, shoes I’ve even seen a metal tea pot ( don’t ask about the toilet brush!).

Whereas strong attachments are common in children with Autistic Spectrum Condition, seeking comfort from clutching objects and carrying them around is common in children under three.

It can be amusing and frustrating yet most children grow out of these habits and they are best dealt with humour and patience and curiosity.

Also Read: Toddler hand leading

It should only be a concern if the behaviour is causing problems, for your child or you that are beyond what is developmentally normal.

For example, if your child doesn’t explore or touch other things because they are clutching their special object and will never put it down.

Some children are like this in new environments but can normally be encourage to put the object in a safe place where they can see it and get it later.

How To Deal With Extreme Toy Or Object Attachment

Try to notice what types of objects your child is becoming attached to.

Are they made from certain textures, when do they smell like? feel like? and when is you child becoming attached? Is it during a transition from one activity to another? or before a journey.

Some children struggle to say goodbye to caregivers, this is normal and healthy, having something that reminds them of home or something that reminds them or a caregiver or place ( ie nursery) can allow they to feel safe knowing that they will return and they will be able to reattach to their caregiver.

A good childcare provider will be understanding and supportive of this need and will be able to support your child to have a place in a care setting for a special toy, gradually encouraging them to separate.

This is something you can try at home too.

Both my children were very attached to their favourite teddy. At meal times this was challenging so I bought a special chair that their teddy could sit in at the table.

It also became a really useful tool for overcoming food and eating challenges and helping both children express their feelings.

If your child won’t put down a tablet or smart phone this is a different issue and a growing phenomenon. Screen Addiction Syndrome is a new condition as well as a cautionary tale for being careful with how much time you allow children to be on smart devices for.

Sensory Development Plays Vital Part

Sensory development in infants is a crucial aspect of early childhood growth, as it lays the foundation for subsequent learning and interaction with the world around them.

During the first few months of life, infants experience rapid progress in their sensory abilities, beginning with their most basic senses such as touch, taste, and smell, and gradually moving on to more complex ones like vision and hearing.

Sensory Development Plays Vital Part

The sense of touch is among the first to develop, as babies can feel sensations from the moment they are born. In the initial weeks, infants can distinguish between sweet, bitter, and sour tastes, and have an innate preference for sweet flavors.

Similarly, they have a well-developed sense of smell, which plays a critical role in bonding and attachment, especially when recognising their mother’s scent.

If your infant or toddler is attached to an item such as a blanket or soft toy the way it smells reminds them of feeling safe with you and their baby remebers what safe feels like and they calm down.

Sight And Sound

As infants grow, their visual and auditory systems undergo significant maturation.

At birth, a baby’s vision is relatively limited, with the ability to focus on objects only about 8 to 12 inches away, and the preference for high-contrast patterns and colors.

Over the first six months, their visual acuity, depth perception, and color vision improve dramatically, allowing them to recognise faces, track moving objects, and explore their surroundings more effectively.

At the same time, an infant’s hearing skills are also evolving, and they become increasingly sensitive to variations in pitch, tone, and rhythm.

This auditory development is essential for language acquisition, as it enables infants to discern and mimic the sounds of their native language, paving the way for future communication abilities.

Sometimes although more rarely object attachment can be to do with a noise the object makes.

Let Them Play With Sound, Taste And Texture

So, if your little is loving holding and touching things, find lots of ways to let them explore safely.

Explore the textures of objects around the home with you, play with loose parts with them, let them crawl barefoot, let them explore the textures of food with their hands, let them touch, taste, hear, smell and see the natural world.

Its also worthwhile exploring baby massage and sensory games and activities that help to stimulate your little one, these can be lots of fun, and bonding too.

Also Read: Baby not clapping at 12 months.

Poor Muscle Tone And Coordination Of Movement In One Hand

If a toddler tends to hold things in only one hand and hardly uses the other, there could be a developmental problem affecting the muscles and their coordination of movement of the hand they do not use. 

If this is the case you need to consult a Pediatrician.

The Paediatrician will likely refer the child for both Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy as well, and they will help to improve muscles and movement coordination through a lot of carefully designed play activities and exercises. 

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, there can be a few reasons why toddler holding objects in hands constantly.

The toddler may simply be getting the stimulation they need for sensory development and for improving hand muscles and their movement coordination, or they might just keep holding any object they are fond of, which is normal.

If you are concerned about your child’s behaviour might or they are not using both hands consult your peadatrician.


Is It Normal For Toddlers To Carry Things Around?

Yes, it is normal for toddlers to carry things around like toys or blankets. In fact, it’s actually a phase every toddler will go through. It’s called The Load and Tote Phase

It helps gain body awareness and develop their motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Plus, they enjoy picking up and carrying objects! They feel a sense of calmness and control as they navigate the world around them.

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