How to improve my baby’s fine motor skills?
Most of our child’s daily activities, such as dressing, opening a lunchbox, and using a pencil, require fine motor skills.
These abilities, which require coordinated efforts between their fingers, hands, and eyes, begin as a baby clutching a rattle and the raking finger grasp and progress to more complicated abilities such as wielding scissors, using a computer mouse, and even playing a musical instrument.
Learn why these abilities are important and how you can help your child develop them.
What Are Fine Motor Skills?
You want to know how to improve your baby’s fine motor skills. But do you know what are they, in the first place?
Fine motor skills are the movement and use of your hands and upper extremities. They include reaching, gripping, and manipulating objects with your hands. Fine motor skills include vision, specifically visual motor skills, often known as hand-eye coordination. Visual-motor abilities are required to coordinate hands, legs, and the rest of the body.
Fine motor skills emerge spontaneously as your child acquires control and coordination of their body. Remember that certain kids may develop fine motor skills and coordination earlier than others.
Difference Between Gross and Fine Motor Skills
The distinction between gross and fine motor skills is based on the muscles used. The large muscles are regarded as gross motor abilities, while the smaller ones are referred to as fine motor skills.
Gross motor skills are the larger muscles in the body, such as those in the arms and legs. These muscles are used for activities that require large movements, such as running, kicking, or jumping.
Fine motor skills involve small muscle movements like picking up a piece of paper or writing with a pencil. These skills are important for things like playing an instrument or doing arts and crafts projects.
Babies and toddlers require a great deal of playing and practice to build the small muscles required for fine motor function.
Why Are Fine Motor Skills Important
Fine motor skills are important because they help your baby to grasp small objects and to hold them, which is necessary for learning how to feed himself or herself. Fine motor skills also help your baby to learn how to use his or her fingers and hands for other purposes, such as playing with toys.
While these skills may seem small now, they’re an essential part of what will make your baby into the strong, independent person he or she will one day be!
Developmental Milestones: Examples of Fine Motor Skills
Image Source: iStock
Here’s a list of fine motor abilities that children between the ages of 0 and 2 years should be able to display.
- Places hands to mouth
- Moves the arms
- Arms may be swung at toys.
- Hands begin to open wider.
- Holds a little object in one hand (without thumb tucked in hand)
- Clasps hands together
- Uses both arms to reach for toys
- When on the tummy, pushes up on the arms
- Briefly holds a toy, such as a rattle
- Follows items in all directions with his or her eyes.
- Shakes, bangs, and rattles
- Brings toys to the mouth.
- Employs a raking grasp
- Objects are transferred from one hand to the other.
- Keeps his hands open and relaxed most of the time
- Beginning to be able to pick up tiny foods
- Capable of deliberately releasing an object
- When asked, gives a toy to a caregiver.
- Smacks two toys together
- Turns the pages of a book a few at a time.
- Starts putting stuff into a container
- Objects are pointed out.
- Stacks two blocks
- Claps both hands together
- Arranges objects and toys in containers
- A farewell wave
- Plays with both hands
- Capable of isolating the index finger while keeping the other fingers closed
- Scribbles using crayons
- Using a spoon and a cup for the first time
- Capable of constructing a block tower out of 3-4 blocks
- Arranges rings on a ring stacker
- Turns a book’s pages one at a time.
- Begin by holding crayons with the tips of one’s fingers and the thumb of one’s thumb.
How to Improve Baby’s Fine Motor Skills
As we always remind parents, babies develop at their own pace. Some babies are great with their hands at 6 months, while others take longer to learn how to pick up their food. However, you can encourage your baby to work on his hands even at an early age. Here are some activities you can do with your baby to assist him in developing fine motor abilities.
Fine Motor Skills Activities Per Age
- Hang a toy above or in front of him and watch him grab for or swat it.
- Give him colourful toys to play with, preferably in a range of sizes, shapes, and textures.
- Encouraging your child to reach for toys
- Provide her with toy blocks and soft toys to aid in the development of her hand-eye coordination.
Play games with your baby that develop coordination and control of his hands and fingers to help him strengthen his fine motor abilities. Here are some examples:
- Get a huge ball and join your kid on the floor (one with beads or chimes inside to make noise will make this game even more exciting for him). Then, roll the ball toward him and wait for him to return it. Your youngster may swat the ball at first, but he will ultimately learn to roll it back to you.
- Give him a lidded box or another object to open and close. Consider hiding a beloved toy inside the box and yelling out peek-a-boo whenever your infant opens the lid.
- Fill a basket with objects for him to play with, such as cuddly animals, soft toys, or safe household items such as wooden spoons and tubs. Allow him to take each one out of the basket and then replace them all. As your infant picks up objects, you can participate by identifying them and describing their shape, texture, and colour.
- At this age, children enjoy playing with latches, wheels, levers, and hinges— basically, anything that moves. So, look for toys with these functions, such as an activity centre.
Baby Toys to Help With Fine Motor Skills
The first year of your baby’s life is a period of exploration, discovery, and learning. And while your child’s brain is evolving and growing in various complicated ways, your playtime together may (and should) be basic, easy, and, most importantly, enjoyable.
The toys listed here promote fine motor skill development in various ways. Use them to connect with your child when holding them on your lap, doing tummy time, or lying together on a playmat.
Shaking a rattle in front of your 12-week-old and encouraging them to reach for it is an excellent method to begin developing fine motor skills. As your baby grows older and learns to sit up, crawl, and walk, you can change his or her playtime accordingly.
A toy for grasping
Some of the first fine motor skills your baby will learn are clutching and gripping. They lay the groundwork for more complex motions later on. Therefore, it’s critical to encourage your child to practise these abilities by providing enjoyable toys to grip, shake, and rattle.
A toy that can be stacked
The rings can be stacked on the pegged base or played with on their own, and this toy helps with other vital abilities such as hand-eye coordination, problem-solving, and visual development in addition to fine motor skills.
A toy for nesting
Image source: iStock
What is the counterpart of stacking? Nesting! Nesting cups are another excellent way for your baby to practise fine motor skills, and these eco-friendly cups in six various sizes are an excellent example of a simple, open-ended toy with several play opportunities. These can also be used as sand or water toys.
A toy for building
What could be more entertaining than a collection of blocks? A timeless classic, blocks are the ideal first toy for developing various crucial developmental concepts, including fine motor abilities. This set has blocks, sensory balls, and animal figures. Because of their soft, textured design, they make an excellent initial set.
A sensory toy
Sensory play and fine motor skill work are brilliantly combined in this delightful, quirky toy that newborns like. It works by “poking” the silicone bubbles from one side to the other, allowing your child to develop hand and finger strength, dexterity, and, most importantly, keep occupied.
A children’s gym
A play gym can be utilised from the first day of life for tummy time and while the infant is on their back. The dangling toys are excellent for visual stimulation in the early weeks and will encourage your child to begin reaching and grabbing as they develop stronger control of their hands and arms.
A water toy
You may practise fine motor skills in the tub with these colourful boats! They’re fantastic for stacking (a tried-and-true approach to learning fine motor skills) but also great for scooping, pouring, and open-ended imaginative play.
Solving a puzzle is a fun way to practise fine motor skills for little ones, but make sure the pieces are large enough to avoid choking hazards, especially for younger babies.
A pounding toy
Toys with simple cause-and-effect relationships are always an excellent choice for attracting your baby’s attention. This one will captivate your little explorer as they pound the ball through the hole and listen to the twinkling of the xylophone keys as it falls—all while improving their fine motor skills without realising it. It also helps with colour awareness and hand-eye coordination.
Fine motor skills are required for daily living and learning. If your child has trouble with day-to-day tasks or you believe it suffers from these skills, talk to their doctor about the likelihood of a developmental delay.
Updates by Pheona Ilagan
Here at theAsianparent Singapore, it’s important for us to give information that is correct, significant, and timely. But this doesn’t serve as an alternative for medical advice or medical treatment. theAsianparent Singapore is not responsible for those that would choose to drink medicines based on information from our website. If you have any doubts, we recommend consulting your doctor for clearer information.