Fine Motor Development in Young Childhood

fine motor developmentAs a child begins to develop, he or she starts understanding how to move their body and manipulate objects around them. Playing with toys and feeding themselves requires the use of fine motor skills – which are small movements that utilize muscles in the fingers, lips, toes, wrists and tongue. Fine motor development is an important part of birth to grade school age. While not all children develop at exactly the same rate, there are particular fine motor skills that a healthy child should be close to developing at various stages of their youth.

For a complete overview of the different fine motor skills your child should be developing, as well as tips and tricks on how to help your child develop at a normal rate, sign up for Udemy’s course on developing motor skills!

One Month

  • Arms move together symmetrically
  • Arms move when child is shown a toy
  • When a finger is placed in the child’s hand, he/she will grasp it
  • When laying on its back, the child will follow your face or an object with its eyes
  • He/she will randomly bring their hand to their mouth
  • The child will be able to make eye contact

Two Months

  • When holding an object, the child will show awareness of their own hands
  • The child can look from one object to another
  • The child will respond to interactions by smiling
  • The child will involuntarily drop toys or other objects

Three Months

  • Hands remain more open than clasped
  • The child will attempt to reach for objects
  • When the child is in an upright position, his/her eyes will follow objects

Four Months

Five Months

  • Begins to transfer objects and toys between hands
  • Can hold two objects at a time – one in each hand
  • Can both pick up and drop objects or toys
  • Can begin to hold his/her bottle without adult assistance
  • Lifts up arms to be picked up by parents
  • Begins to explore facial features of parents and siblings by touching them

Six Months

  • Begins to reach out with one hand or arm at a time
  • Begins to bang toys or other objects onto surfaces
  • Begins to hold small objects between fingers and palm, although may not use thumb yet
  • Can bring bottle to mouth with hands

Nine Months

  • Begins to bang objects together and clap hands together
  • Starts to voluntarily drop objects
  • Can grab objects from inside of boxes and other containers
  • Begins to point at people or objects with index finger
  • Can begin to eat with fingers without adult help
  • Extends arm when holding objects to show others or share with parents
  • Can begin to hold a spoon

One Year

  • Claps hands together without problem
  • Can begin to stack objects on top of each other
  • Can begin to use crayons / colored pencils to draw on surfaces
  • Frequently points with index finger
  • Can put multiple objects into one container
  • Can begin to bring spoon up to mouth
  • Begins to attempt to wave
  • Begins to use both index finger and thumb to pick up objects
  • Will start to give objects to familiar people

15 Months

fine motor development

  • Can begin to stack more than three objects on top of each other
  • Begins to feed self with spoon
  • Can grasp two objects in the same hand
  • Can begin to pull toys that are attached to a string
  • Begins to place many different objects in the same container
  • Begins to show affection by hugging and kissing
  • Can remove both socks

18 Months

  • Begins to use both hands independently of one another
  • Can begin to stack more than five objects on top of each other
  • Can remove shoes when laces are untied
  • Can begin to push objects (such as a plastic car or boat)
  • Begins to put toys away with help from parents
  • Starts to show gestures when interacting with parents

21 Months

  • Can begin to scribble in circular patterns
  • Can open doors with knobs
  • Can hold a small cup in one hand
  • Can begin to help parents with simple everyday tasks

2 Years

fine motor development

  • Can begin to use scissors with parental assistance
  • Can wash hands independently
  • Can pull pants down without help from parents
  • Begins to play with dolls or action figures, acting out basic scenarios
  • Initiates playing with toys independently

30 Months

3 Years

  • Can begin to place together simple puzzles
  • Can use scissors to cut across a simple line
  • Can stack up to 10 objects on top of each other
  • Begins to be able to put shoes and socks on without assistance
  • Shares his/her toys with peers
  • Can begin to brush his/her own hair

4 Years

  • Begins to show a preference for one particular hand (left handed or right handed)
  • Can begin to draw a square
  • Can cut out smaller objects such as squares
  • Can begin to button his/her own clothing
  • Cleans up toys when asked to

5 Years

fine motor development

  • Can begin to draw a triangle
  • Can begin to write his/her own name
  • Can begin to draw objects from imagination or real life
  • Begins to understand how to tie own shoes
  • Can play games with particular rules, such as simple board games

6 Years

  • Begins to be able to write the alphabet with accuracy
  • Can tie own shoes
  • Can dress and undress without much assistance
  • Understands the difference between left and right

Helping to Develop Fine Motor Skills

There are plenty of fun and engaging ways to help your child develop the necessary fine motor skills. These may include putting together puzzles, sculpting with PlayDoh, getting them to help with basic meal preparation, drawing and painting, playing with blocks or Legos, and playing dress-up. All of these simple activities will help prepare your child for more difficult fine motor skills in the future, such as typing, participating in athletic activitiesplaying a musical instrument or becoming a successful artist or chef. Before you know it, your child will be crafting and playing with ease.