Fine Motor Skills: A Timeline

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Fine motor skills refers to the coordination of the small muscles of the body. These include the hands, wrists, fingers, feet, toes, lips and tongue. There are two types of motor skills: fine motor and gross motor skills, which are the movements of the larger muscles, whcih include those of the arms, legs and feet. Both fine motor skills and gross motor skills develop over time and build upon one another. Below is a general timeline for fine motor skills development during the first two years of life.

Birth-2 months
Babies will extend their arms towards objects but are unable to grasp them. As vision develops, their accuracy improves. When their vision and grasping work together, they can make contact with the desired object.

3-4 Months
At this stage, hand-eye coordination begins to develop and babies can sometimes grasp and hold larger objects. Babies may hold and shake a rattle and bring hands together.

4-5 Months
Children should be able to sit up now. Babies can begin to transfer larger objects from one hand to the other. They can crumple paper and splash water in the bath.

6 Months
Babies can now hold objects with a palmar grasp and are refining their ability to manipulate objects with their hands and mouths. They may grasp at their feet and bring their toes to their mouths.

7-9 Months
Children can now successfully grab smaller objects between their thumb and the sides of their forefingers. They should be able to transfer toys from one hand to the other and bang objects on a table. Will often put objects in their mouths.

9-10 Months
At this stage, babies begin to develop a pincer grip. This allows them to grip larger objects with all four fingers against the thumb. This is the grasp that the child will use to pick up and drink from a cup. The pincer grasp also allows children to stack and nest objects.

10-12 Months
Toward the end of their first year of life, babies can pick up very small objects and begin to use their hands independently of one another. They will also be able to point at objects using their index finger.

12-15 Months
Most children will be better able to explore the world around them at this stage. They can roll a ball on the floor and begin using their hands for more than just playing and eating. Toward the end of this period, children will begin to use tools such as cups, spoons and crayons like adults would. This allows them to begin feeding themselves.

15-18 Months
At this stage, children can use a crayon to scribble on paper in a more controlled manner. They should also be able to build towers from a few large blocks.

18-21 Months
By the end of this period, babies may be able to help dress themselves by manipulating large zippers and buttons.

21-24 Months
By the end of their second year, most toddlers can use their hands to unwrap presents and do simple puzzles. They can fold sheets of paper and string large beads. They can build a tower of six to seven blocks and turn doorknobs and unscrew lids. They can wash and dry their hands and have mastered the use of a fork and spoon.

Children continue to develop fine motor skills throughout their childhoods. There are many toys and activities designed to help develop a child's fine motor skills. Parents who are concerned that their child may have a fine motor skills weakness should contact a doctor for an evaluation.

Read more about development at ParentDish.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.