What are Fine Motor Skills?

Posted by

Jasmine Ou, MA, OTR/L

Time to read

2 minutes

Fine motor skills include the coordination of the fingers, hands, and arms.

Over the span of development, children develop more refined ways of 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.

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 your child.

Check with a therapist or your child’s physician if you have any concerns.

  • New born – 3 Months
    • Waving arms when a toy is presented
    • Brings hand to mouth
    • Drops/releases toys
    • Holds toys briefly
  • 3-6 Months
    • Reaches for objects
    • Grasps objects when placed in hand
    • Brings hands together
    • Moves toys from one hand to another
    • Brings bottle to mouth
    • 6-12 Months
      • Reaches for toys with one arm
      • Holds objects briefly
      • Scoops toys to palm
      • Clapping hands
      • Finger feeds
      • Uses finger tips to hold smaller objects
      • Pokes with fingers
      • Puts objects into a container
    • 12-18 Months
      • 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
    • 18-24 Months
      • Puts small objects into a container
      • Imitates vertical lines when drawing
      • Removes shoes (not including laces)
      • Uses spoon to feed self (less spills)
      • Turns book pages 1 at a time
      • Holds a crayon with thumb and fingers
    • 24-36 Months
      • 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 containers
      • Uses a fork
      • Dresses self with help
      • Snips with safety scissors
      • Makes continuous cuts with safety scissors


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