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Most children start showing a clear preference for one hand or the other around age 2 or 3, while some do it as early as 18 months. But don't worry if your preschooler doesn't seem to care which hand she uses to hold her fork — some children remain ambidextrous (using both hands equally) until they're 5 or 6.
Hand dominance is greatly influenced by genetics. If both you and your partner are left-handed, your child has a 45 to 50 percent chance of being left-handed as well. (About 10 percent of people are left-handed.)
And don't bother trying to influence her hand preference. While genetics alone don't entirely explain why someone ends up right- or left-handed, hardwiring of your child's nervous system is at least part of the reason. Forcing her to use her right hand when she's really a lefty is unlikely to work in the long run and will only confuse or frustrate her along the way.
There are a few things you can do though: If your child eventually shows a preference for using her left hand, buy her scissors designed for left-handed users, supply her with a "lefty" baseball glove, and make sure to seat her in a spot at the table where she won't bump arms with her neighbor.