Development of Fine Motor Skills in Your Child

fine motor skills in child who is writing

When your child enters this world, soon they begin to develop fine motor skills.

This is the coordination of their muscles present in their hands, wrists and fingers with their eyes.

This helps them to grasp small objects and move their fingers.

Later when they are a little older, it helps them to write and dress up on their own.

If they don’t develop they can later cause a problem to perform everyday tasks such as grooming or even turning a page over.

This article discusses the stages of development of fine motor skills in your child.

Learn what skills your child should be developing as they get older.

developing fine motor skills in baby by sliding objects in a toy

What are Fine Motor Skills?

When your child is developing they require both fine motor and gross motor skills.

Fine motor refers to small muscle movements.

These are present in your hands, fingers and wrists.

These skills are the coordination between these muscles and your eyes for movements.

Your child requires dexterity, strength and fine motor control to carry out these movements.

You can use these to perform activities such as:

  • fastening clothes
  • turning over a page
  • writing
  • holding objects in hands
  • brushing teeth
  • using the computer/mobile phone
  • eating
  • performing everyday tasks

Obviously, these skills are not only important for your child in their childhood but also in later years of all their life.

These are important for children because fine motor skills help your child to perform self-care and become independent.

Hence, they do not have to rely on their parents for everything.

Besides the fine motor, there are gross motor skills.

The difference is, these happen in the larger muscle groups.

Gross motor skills develop in the legs and arms.

These help your child in moving around.

They are important in big movement baby milestones such as sitting up, rolling over, crawling and eventually walking.

By the time your child is of 1 to 2 months, they start developing fine motor skills.

However, every child is different and so is their pace.

Your child may develop these skills timely or these can be delayed.

While they may face problems when they develop extremely late, a little delay is not an issue.

Let’s find out what skills your child should be developing at a particular age so that you can track them.

development and milestones of baby

Tracking Your Child’s Development and Milestones

From Birth to the First 3 months 

At this point, your child starts to use their hand a little.

It is more relaxed rather than stiff and then places their hands in their mouth.

Between 3 to 6 months 

This is where your child begins to grasp things.

They can hold a toy using both hands.

Also, they can move the toy between their hands.

Plus they can start holding both of their hands together.

Next in 6 to 9 months 

They can begin to use their fingers and touch them together.

Your child can now squeeze a toy or any object with their hands.

They can clap hands and touch objects using their index fingers.

Moreover, raking their hands allows them to hold and grasp objects.

developing fine motor skills by adding beads to string

In 9 to 12 months 

They can begin to grab small objects using their thumb and index finger.

All this time they have spent holding toys with both their hands but now they will be finally able to do so with one.

What’s more, their hands can now grasp finger foods and your child can feed it to themselves.

Besides finger foods, they can also hold a bottle. First step towards independence, yay!

Also a little chaotic development but now they can bang things together. Look out for more fun and also noise on their part!

Going forward…

From One Year to Two 

At this point, your child starts to cover many milestones.

They can talk without a baby walker utilizing their gross motor skills.

What’s more, they can finally scribble on paper, hold a crayon with their fingers and also turn a page so it is time to buy them the coloring books and reading books.

Moreover, they will begin eating by themselves using a spoon.

By the time they are 18 months old, they will begin to stack toys such as cups or build block towers.

Plus, they can also put shapes in the stencils or toys and draw a vertical line.

This is also the age whereby they start learning to dress.

Two to Three Years Old Children 

By this time, the child is able to wash their hands.

Plus, they may begin to zip and unzip their clothes, hence, dress and undress.

They can also remove their shoes and socks. Trouble for mommy indeed!

Turning a doorknob is no longer a problem.

Neither is eating by themselves, they can begin to use a fork and spoon.

They can place and remove small lids.

Moreover, they can draw circles, horizontal lines and attach beads on a string yarn.

child using fine motor skills to cut paper with scissors

Three to Four Years of Age

At this age, your child either begins school or is a preschooler.

So they begin some big boy and big girl tasks.

They can start to cut paper using scissors.

Their drawing skills are improving too.

Drawing a cross and a two-part person is easy now.

Since your child is grown up now they can dress by themselves to a certain point.

However, they may still require practicing with buttoning and unbuttoning.

Four to Five Years Old Child 

They have begun to go to school and can draw a 10 part-person as well as a square.

They can wash their hands as well as dry them using a towel.

What’s more, they can hold a pencil properly and will also start to color between the lines rather than scribble randomly.

The most important of these skills that your child should learn include:

  • Stabilizing the wrist during their early years. This is why your child moves their fingers with control and enough strength.
  • Bilateral hand skill that allows your child to use both hands in tandem and develops their coordination.
  • Palmer arches strengthen the fingers and as a result the palm curves inwards as well as the fingers become strong enough to write and grip objects.
  • Intrinsic hand muscle development happens due to the middle finger, index finger and thumb’s tip touch to form small movements.
  • Scissors skills not only helps your child in cutting paper but also develop hand-eye coordination
  • They also develop the skilled side of the hand in order to grasp items using their thumb and the rest of the fingers.

not developing milestones

How Do Fine Motor Skills Develop and What If They Don’t?

Your child is able to coordinate and control their body naturally.

Hence, it is a natural ability that not all children develop at the same time.

Your child may miss a milestone during that exact time but will complete it a month later.

That’s usually nothing to worry about.

Some children can learn with the help of their everyday activities such as playtime.

If the toys include pressing, holding and grasping then they will develop the skills alongside playing.

Moreover, they learn the pincer grasp through eating, playing and also dressing up.

Once their basic fine motor skills develop they can progress to advanced skills.

This includes tying shoelaces, putting a straw in the juice and writing their name.

While delays of a month or two may not be a red herring, those that go beyond usually are.

It is a sign of developmental coordination disorder and around 5 to 6 percent of children of 3 to 5 years old can be at risk.

When a child has problems with their fine motor skills they may drop items because they cannot grasp them properly.

Plus, they won’t be able to hold a toothbrush or spoon.

Tying shoelaces, writing properly and using scissors is still not achieved.

An occupational therapist can work with your child to help your child and so can some activities with parents.

And what are they?

playing with a puzzle

Activities to Enhance Skills

Fine motor skills activities can make your child learn better and quicker.

This is especially useful when your child is lagging behind.

A lag can hinder their academic skills, social as well as personal life.

Hence, incorporate these activities so that your child can be on par with their developmental milestones.

  • Assemble a puzzle together with your child
  • Paint using fingers with them
  • Do not pour drinks for your child all the time rather teach them how to pour it
  • Let them help with preparing meals such as stirring alongside
  • Play with board games that use dice, blocks and parts to pick and place
  • Use playdough to roll and flatten it as well as cut it into shapes using a cutter
  • Teach them how to place a rubber band around a can
  • Put small items in a can and let your child pick them up with a tweezer
  • Let them use a hole puncher
  • Allow them to set the dinner table sometimes if they are old enough
  • Draw with them using colored pencils, crayons and chalk
  • Make greeting cards and collages with them


Besides your child’s fine motor skills, they are also developing gross motor, social and sensory skills.

Hence, once your child knows how to do basic tasks using their motor skills, they will be able to follow through the advanced ones like writing smoothly too.

Hence, enhancing their personal, academic and social skills.




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