Child Development: Fine Motor Skills

New babies seem to kick and flail without reason, but as your baby grows, they will start to move more intentionally. Perhaps they latch onto a toy ar grab for their pacifier. These movements are fine motor skills, which let them perform crucial tasks like reaching and grasping.

Encouraging Fine Motor Skills

As kids get better at using their hands, their hand-eye coordination improves. Fine motor skills open new doors to exploration, learning, and creative expression. The best way to encourage your child’s fine motor skills is to help them practice. Click To Tweet Help them trace around objects, button their shirts, play puzzle games and eat with utensils.

Birth – 2 Months

Your new baby will seem to flail around as though they’re getting familiar with their new body. They will not be able to hold their heads up. By the time they’re 2 months old they will seem to move more deliberately, reaching for your finger or grasping at their blanket for comfort. Movements will be jerky and uncoordinated.

2 Months – 5 Months

By this age, they’re starting to hold their heads up, and may even push themselves up onto their stomachs and elbows when laying on their stomach (like a push up). When you hold them up they might seem to put weight on their feet.  They can also reach for a parent with both arms extended.

5 – 12 Months

During this time your toddler will likely start to roll over and crawl. They will be able to point at things they want and grab them when they’re close. They should be able to hold a bottle or sippy cup and can shake and play with small toys. When you put a Cheerio or small piece of food in front of them, they’ll soon be able to grab and eat it.

1 Year- 2 Years

This is a fast period of growth, so hold on tight! Between ages 1 and 2 your child should be able to walk and run. They’ll learn how to eat with utensils and even color with a crayon or marker. They may be able to go down a stair or 2 with help.

3 – 4 Years

During this early preschool phase, your child will learn to manipulate items, such as doorknobs, drawers, and zippers. They’ll gain confidence going up and down stairs, and may be able to draw simple items. As they gain more confidence they’ll start to feel independence, asking for help less frequently.

5 – 6 Years

The kindergarten years will be when your child can brush their own teeth, hair, and dress themselves. They should be able to put on sock and shoes, and navigate the world around them. They can dance, sing, and experiment with musical instruments.


Don’t panic if your child is not reaching these milestones on schedule. Every child develops differently. If you’ve noticed specific delays or lingering problems, talk to your child’s pediatrician.

As Your Child Grows

It’s important that your child is challenged to do more for themselves, even when it seems they’re not ready. This is how they’ll learn. If you always feed them to avoid a mess, how will they learn to hold a fork? Entering preschool and kindergarten, it’s crucial that your child has a grasp on the basic tasks, such as holding a pencil. When your child has to concentrate on these fine motor tasks,  there is less brain power to devote to actually learning the work.

Contact Us to learn how fine motor development can aid your child’s success.