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Right Hand, Left Hand?: How To Tell

Will your child be a righty or a lefty? If you're like most parents, you want to know.

All In The Genes

The genes your child inherited from you and your spouse determine her handedness. Five to 10 percent of children are left-handed. If both you and your spouse are left-handed, there's a 50 percent chance your child will be left-handed too. When one of you is a lefty, her chances drop to about 17 percent. When you're both right-handed, there's still a two percent chance your child will be left-handed.

Hand preference isn't set until between ages four and six, but you may get a clue about your child's handedness as early as seven months, when she may favor one hand over another for picking up toys and small objects. By the time she's two, she may prefer one hand for lifting her spoon, holding a crayon, or throwing a ball. You may also get a clue from her feet: Does she kick a ball more often with her left foot or her right? Until her decision is final, she may use either hand for writing, eating, or throwing. Or she may use her left hand for one job and the right for another.

Your Child's Choice

If you notice her favoring her left hand over her right, don't waste your energy trying to change her handedness. Imagine how hard it would be for you to use your less-favored hand to draw, write, or eat. Rather than force your child to use her right hand, help her adjust by buying her left-handed scissors and other tools, left-handed athletic equipment, mugs for lefties, and other special items.