From the time they’re born, children are working on their fine motor skills! Fine motor skills are the movements the hands and fingers make to grasp and manipulate objects. The way an object feels, moves or even tastes can help a child learn about the world around them.
Babies use fine motor skills to grasp the fingers of moms and dads and clench their hands. Babies may grab or hold onto rattles or teethers and pass objects from one hand to the next. As a child gets older and becomes a toddler, they use fine motor skills when eating, playing and exploring the world around them. By the time they get to preschool and kindergarten, the fine motor skills they started developing as babies helps them learn to write, use scissors, button clothes, build with blocks and more.
Tips to help your child learn fine motor skills
  • Give your child opportunities to explore and manipulate age-appropriate objects. Put your baby down for tummy time when they can strengthen their arm, legs and back muscles. Encourage them to reach and grasp by holding rattles, teethers or other toys. As your child gets older, they can use their hands to explore items like foods, textures and more.
  • Encourage use of both hands. Did you know that being left or right handed can come from mom or dad? A recent study shows the same genetic markers tied to being left-handed may also play roles in brain development and communication between different brain areas. Although children may be as old as six years old before they show a preference for using their left or right hand, encouraging them to use either hand means they can more fully explore their world and learn.
  • Expect a mess. Messes can be learning experiences! When your toddler eats spaghetti with their hands, or your preschooler digs into the dirt, these are learning experiences using fine motor skills.
  • Use sign language skills. Before they can talk, babies as young as 4-6 months can begin to learn basic sign language, like more, all done, or milk. These basic signs are ways to communicate and can be steps towards building fine motor skills. Watch the video below for basic words in sign language you can use along with language to help your child communicate. 

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