Growth & Development

Fine Motor Skills

Fine motor skills are actions and abilities involving the small muscles in the hands and fingers.
Examples of fine motor activities include picking up objects, drawing/writing, dressing, and using hands to eat and play. These skills also involve hand-eye coordination.

Healthy Child Development

There are several stages of healthy fine motor skills development that are marked by key abilities.  


By 4 months

  • Sucks well on a nipple (if breastfeeding)

  • Brings hands or toy to mouth

  • Turns head side to side to follow a toy or an adult face

  • Brings hands to midline while lying on back

By 6 months

  • Reaches for a toy when lying on back

  • Uses hands to reach, grasp, bang and splash

By 9 months

  • Picks up small items using thumb and first finger

  • Passes an object from one hand to the other

  • Releases objects voluntarily

  • Bangs objects on table or floor

By 12 months

  • Holds, bites and chews foods (e.g., crackers)

  • Takes things out of a container

  • Points with index finger

  • Plays games like peek-a-boo

  • Holds a cup to drink using two hands

  • Picks up and eats finger foods

By 18 months

  • Helps with dressing by putting out arms and legs

  • Stacks three or more blocks

  • Picks up and eats finger foods

By 2 years

  • Puts items into a small container

  • Takes off own shoes, socks or hat

  • Eats with a spoon with little spilling

  • Scribbles with crayons or marks paper

By 3 years

  • Turns the pages of a book

  • Dresses or undresses with help

  • Turns lid off a jar or turns knobs

  • Holds a writing utensil between thumbs and fingers

  • Copies a circle already drawn

By 4 years

  • Holds a writing utensil correctly

  • Undoes buttons or zippers

  • Cuts with scissors

  • Dresses and undresses with minimal help


By 5 years

  • Uses scissors to cut along a thick line drawn on paper

  • Dresses and undresses with little help

... If a child is missing one or more of these expected age outcomes, consider this a red flag



if a child is experiencing any of the following, consider this a red flag:


►  Inability to hold or grasp an adult finger or a toy/object for a short period of time

All children

►  Hands are fisted most of the time
►  Inability to play appropriately with a variety
of age-appropriate toys; avoids crafts and
►  Consistently ignores or has difficulty using one side of body; uses one hand/arm

These Practitioners and Agencies may be able to help

Services and Information related to Fine Motor Skills:

Having more general concerns about a child's development?

Having difficulty coping? Need some advice?

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