Fine Motor Skills By Age

Posted by

Jasmine Ou, MA, OTR/L

Time to read

3 minutes
little girl practicing fine motor skill stacking blocks

As a parent, you want your child to learn, develop and grow. This process is different for each child and family and we’re honored to be with you on your unique journey. If you’re noticing delays in fine motor skills or differences in development – where regular everyday activities seem challenging for your child – our occupational therapists are here to be that helping hand.

At Milestone, we support your child and family in adapting to new ways of functioning and freedom, creating daily routines that are empowering, not stressful.

Occupational therapy covers a wide range of activities and behaviors that your child may be struggling with…think: sensory processing, eating, playing, sleeping, learning and social development to name a few. Here are more specific examples for when our OT’s can help get involved:

🌟 ꜱᴇʟꜰ ᴄᴀʀᴇ ꜱᴋɪʟʟꜱ: dressing, shoe tying, brushing teeth, grooming, hygiene
🌟 ꜰɪɴᴇ ᴍᴏᴛᴏʀ ꜱᴋɪʟʟꜱ: handwriting, grasping, buttoning, using scissors
🌟 ɢʀᴏꜱꜱ ᴍᴏᴛᴏʀ ꜱᴋɪʟʟꜱ: safely navigating an environment, sitting, walking, crawling
🌟 ꜰᴇᴇᴅɪɴɢ: accepting a variety of foods, oral motor skills, drinking, using utensils
🌟 ꜱᴇʟꜰ ʀᴇɢᴜʟᴀᴛɪᴏɴ: transitioning to new activities, responding to changes in routine, emotional and sensory regulation
🌟 ᴀᴛᴛᴇɴᴛɪᴏɴ: how your child focuses on play activities, family members and peers
🌟 ꜱᴇɴꜱᴏʀʏ ᴘʀᴏᴄᴇꜱꜱɪɴɢ: sound, touch, taste, smell, movement, balance
🌟 ꜱᴏᴄɪᴀʟ ꜱᴋɪʟʟꜱ: sharing, turn-taking, playing with peers, playing in creative ways

Today we are focusing on ꜰɪɴᴇ ᴍᴏᴛᴏʀ ꜱᴋɪʟʟꜱ and what those look like through the first few years of your child’s development.

First We Must Ask and Answer: What Are Fine Motor Skills?

Fine motor skills include the use of the small muscles of the hand and the coordinator of the fingers, hands, and arms.

Over the span of development, children develop more refined ways to using their hands and fingers. These refined skills allow us to complete tasks that require more precision such as obtaining objects, writing, fastening a zipper, using forks and spoons, tying our shoes, using scissors, or inserting a key into a door lock.

Fine Motor Skills By Age

Newborn to 3 Months Old

  • waving arms when a toy is presented
  • brings hand to mouth
  • drops/releases toys
  • holds toys briefly

3 to 6 Months Old

  • reaches for objects
  • grasps objects when placed in hand
  • brings hands together
  • moves toys from one hand to another
  • brings bottle to mouth

6 to 12 Months Old

  • reaches for toys with one arm
  • holds objects briefly
  • scoops toys to palm
  • clapping hands
  • finger feeds
  • uses finger tips to hold small objects
  • pokes with fingers
  • puts objects into a container

toddler practicing fine motor skills of scribbling

12 to 18 Months Old

  • points with index finger
  • stacks blocks
  • throws a small ball
  • scribbles
  • holds out arms and legs to get dressed
  • removes socks
  • uses spoon with spills
  • completes large simple shape puzzles

18 to 24 Months Old

  • puts small object into a container
  • imitates vertical line when drawing
  • removes shoes (not including laces)
  • uses spoon to feed self (less spills)
  • turns book pages one at a time
  • holds a crayon with thumb and finger

24 to 36 Months Old

  • holds crayon with thumb and fingers
  • strings beads
  • folds paper in half
  • draws a circular scribble
  • imitates horizontal lines when drawing
  • copies a circle
  • pours from a container
  • uses a fork
  • dresses self with help
  • snips with safety scissors
  • makes continuous cuts with safety scissors

Typically, children achieve fine motor milestones in a fairly predictable order. It is important to keep in mind that there are many factors that can impact a child’s development!

Please also note that every child is unique and develops at their own pace. Use general timelines to figure out what is a good next step for you child.

If you are noticing your child not achieving their fine motor skills or wanting more help in this area, our caring team of occupational therapists can illuminate a new path forward for your child and your family so everyday activities can be joyful!

Book a free consultation with one of our Occupational Therapists today!

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Source: PDMS-2 Peabody Developmental Motor Scales 2nd Edition