How to Boost the Development of Fine Motor Skills in Babies

How to Boost the Development of Fine Motor Skills in Babies

Last update: 28 June, 2018

Stimulating the development of fine motor skills at an early age will allow your child to hold a paint brush and paint, for example.

Fine motor skills are movements that require the use of the small muscles in our hands and arms. They allow us to carry out activities with greater precision and care. These abilities develop progressively over the years with the help of stimulation.

As children grow – under normal circumstances – they encounter many opportunities to develop their fine motor skills. How? By exploring the world around them – touching things, grasping them, letting them go, etc. 

From a tender age, babies will grab onto anything within reach in order to discover its texture – just out of simple curiosity.

In a later stage, infants begin to play with these objects. They throw them down, pick them back up with them, bang them on the table, etc.

As this occurs, babies begin to exercise the muscles in their hands and forearms. This, in turn, improves the precision with which they grasp objects.

Furthermore, grasping objects and letting them go increases the control children have of their own strength.

Activities that promote fine motor skills

  • Drawing
  • Writing
  • Cutting and gluing
  • Sewing or lacing with string
  • Using a paper punch
  • Doing origami
  • Molding with clay or play dough
  • Other similar activities
How to Boost the Development of Fine Motor Skills in Babies

Why are fine motor skills so important?

Some of the first signs of development of fine motor skills in babies are when they begin to grab, hold and move objects around.

With the right stimulation, and over time, babies will learn to hold a crayon and scribble on a piece of paper. Progressively, your little one will acquire the skills necessary to create drawings, cut paper, etc.

Of course, you should supervise any time your child is using scissors, and make sure the scissors are safe for little hands.

Any time that children use their hands to carry out a task, their hand eye coordination improves. This will be especially important when your child starts to draw, color, read and write.

These are all activities that your little one will use for the rest of his or her life, at school, at work, and in other daily tasks.

Allowing your child to play or scribble on a piece of paper at an early age aren’t the only ways to stimulate fine motor development.

Allow your little one to freely explore the world around him, especially objects (while always making sure he’s safe!). This allows children to advance more rapidly and also gain a healthy self-esteem.

Signs of the development of fine motor skills

When babies are born, they have little or no control over their extremities or over their own strength. However, as soon as 8 weeks of age, newborn babies begin to stretch out their arms a little, move them, and hit. This is part of a baby’s natural development – especially of touch.

At 5 months of age, babies can grasp an object firmly. Little by little, they reach the stage in which they can use their entire hand and even their thumb. They pick up toys and experiment with everything that occurs when they drop them, bang them and shake them.

When little ones reach pre-school age, they improve their ability to use pencils, cut with scissors, and button their own clothing. Fastening one’s own clothes – involving zippers, snaps and buttons – also requires fine motor skills.

By 12 months, children have a greater control of their hands and are much more agile. This allows them to play with various toys (stuffed animals, legos, etc.), turn the pages of a book. At this age, a child can firmly grasp a pencil or crayon and color or scribble.

Fine motor skills allow children to write and carry out other activities that they will need for the rest of their lives.

Activities that boost the development of fine motor skills in babies

Give your child as much freedom as possible to explore the world around him. This is a way to contribute naturally to the development of fine motor skills.

Of course, small children require constant adult supervision. However, it’s important you provide your little one with a safe environment that offers opportunities for him to use his hands and fingers.

Keep play dough on hand

It may be hard to believe, but play dough helps children strengthen the muscles in their fingers. Squeezing, stretching and molding all help your little one develop her motor skills and enjoy a sensory experience all while playing.

Create murals in the bathtub

Playing isn’t the only way in which children learn on a cognitive level. It’s also the main contributor to the development of a child’s motor development and coordination. To assist your child, you can cut different figures out of foamy material.

During bathtime, allow your little one to stick these figures onto the walls of your bathtub. Your child will have a great time using his artistic creativity while splashing around in the tub.


Fingerpainting is a great way to boost fine motor development and coordination in children. Simply provide your child with the paints and a surface to paint on (a wall, a sheet of paper, or some other object) and let her imagination soar.

Playing with water

Squeezing a sponge or filling an empty container with water are simple ways to strengthen the muscles in your little one’s hands. You can make these activities even more fun by adding bubbles or food coloring to the water.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Chuva Castillo, P. G. (2016). Desarrollo de la motricidad fina a través de técnicas grafo-plásticas en niños de 3 a 4 años de la escuela de educación básica Federico González Suarez(Bachelor’s thesis).
  • Cabrera Valdés, B. D. L. C., & Dupeyrón García, M. D. L. N. (2019). El desarrollo de la motricidad fina en los niños y niñas del grado preescolar. Mendive. Revista de educación, 17(2), 222-239.
  • MERCHÁN, A. L. H. (2014). El arte infantil como herramienta pedagógica de motricidad fina en niños y niñas de cinco años(Doctoral dissertation, UNIVERSIDAD DEL TOLIMA).

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.