Practical ways to practice fine motor skills

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

While she may be thrilled to be on the move much of the day, it’s just as important to work with her on developing her 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 her own. Let her try to complete tasks during the day, providing lots of encouragement, and you may be surprised to see just how capable she is becoming as she 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 her 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 she 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 her help you make a pretty necklace or bracelet. She 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, she 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 her to use her fork and spoon instead of her hands.

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

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