Practical ways to practice fine motor skills

At this age, Baby is probably pretty eager to show off his gross motor skills. Climbing? Check. Running? Let’s go!

While he may be thrilled to be on the move much of the day, it’s just as important to work with him on developing his fine motor skills. Fine motor skills are the skills that use the small muscles in the hand to manipulate objects using the thumbs, fingers, and wrists to complete a task.

Though fine motor skills require a bit more focus to develop, Baby is also likely to want to do more on his own. Let him try to complete tasks during the day, providing lots of encouragement, and you may be surprised to see just how capable he is becoming as he grows.

Here are some fun ways to practice fine motor skills at home:

  • Art: Drawing and painting are both great ways to develop fine motor skills. At this point, Baby should be able to scribble on paper, and even imitate simple lines. Let him keep doodling, and even painting. Both require grasping and holding a small object, which will work those little muscles!
  • Blocks: Building towers is a longstanding toddler favorite, and is a good learning tool, as he must grab the blocks and also manipulate them to ensure the tower doesn’t fall. By the end of this year, Baby should be able to build a tower of about nine blocks.
  • Beads: Grab a string and some beads, and let him help you make a pretty necklace or bracelet. He will have to focus considerably to get the beads on the string, and will be happy to be doing something nice for you, too!
  • Books: When you’re reading together, allow Baby to practice turning the pages. Chances are, he will grab a few more than is needed, the first few times, but there’s no harm in skipping a couple of pages if it means helping develop these essential skills.
  • Utensils: Mealtime is messy with a toddler, no doubt, but the only way it will get tidier is with practice. Let Baby be hands-on when it comes to self-feeding, and encourage him to use his fork and spoon instead of his hands.

As with most skills, practice makes perfect, and every child hits milestones at his own pace. This year, Baby should more proficient in completing daily tasks on his own, like dressing and eating with less assistance. You may also notice him start to show a preference for handedness this year. If he seems weak or shaky in his movements, you may want to contact his pediatrician to rule out any potential motor issues.

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