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Fine Motor Skills in Infants and Toddlers: Development Timeline

Fine motor skills are precise thumb,   finger, hand and wrist movements. These small movements can range from picking up objects to using a pair of scissors, and are extremely important in any child’s development. Many parents may not know how developed their child’s fine motor skills should be at certain ages, so we have put together a timeline for you to follow and check against.

Newborn – 3 Months: Babies will react to objects and try to reach for them, but will be unable to grab them. As vision develops and it works with grabbing, infants will be able to make contact with the object.

3 – 6 Months: Your baby should be able to hold on to larger objects, such as a rattle or a cracker.

6 – 9 Months: The palmar grasp, when fingers squeeze against the palm, develops. During these months, you may notice your infant holding a bottle with their own hands, transferring objects from one hand to another, raking at Cheerios, bringing objects to their mouths or banging objects on a table.

9 – 12 Months: The pincer grasp, when index finger and thumb touch, begins to develop. At first, your infant should be able to pick up larger objects with all four fingers against the thumb. As they near 1 year, they should be able to pick up smaller objects, point with their index finger, and use their hands independently of one another.

12 – 15 Months: Children should be able to use their hands for more than playing and eating at this stage. They should begin using objects such as cups, spoons and crayons in proper form.

15 – 18 Months: During this age, children can be able to control crayons to scribble. They should also be able to stack a few large blocks.

18 – 2 Years: By the time they reach 2 years, toddlers should be able to help dress themselves when working with large zippers or buttons. You should notice that they are able to unwrap presents, work on puzzles, turn doorknobs, unscrew lids, fold paper, and build larger block towers. They should also be able to use a fork and spoon independently and be able to wash and dry their hands.

2 – 3 Years: During this year, your child should be able to turn pages in a book, snip paper with scissors, draw straight lines and circles, manage large buttons, hold crayons using the thumb and fingers, and build a tower of 9-10 blocks. When toddlers are closer to the age of 3, they will be using one hand more than the other, and should be able to cut across a full sheet of paper, put on some items of clothing by themselves and use a fork to feed themselves.

3 – 4 Years: Toddlers at this age should be able to catch a ball using their hands and their bodies. The static tripod grasp should develop, in which the child is able to isolate fingers to hold a pencil or crayon. When using a scissor, your child should be turning the paper to cut.

4 – 5 Years: Children between the ages of 4 and 5 should be able to catch a ball using just their hands. The most mature pencil grip, the dynamic tripod grasp, develops. Children are able to produce smooth movements because their fingers are moving independently from their hand when writing.

If you notice that your child is having any developmental problems during these age groups, it would not hurt to speak to a pediatrician or a school official about occupational therapy. Hands on Fun OT provides occupational therapy kits to bridge the gap between child development in school and at home. If you are interested in purchasing a Hands on Fun OT Kit, please click here.

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