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Unlocking the Potential of Fine Motor Skills: A Guide for Parents

Unlocking the Potential of Fine Motor Skills: A Guide for Parents

Helping your child’s hands do wonders

As parents, we are always eager to see our little ones grow and develop. One important aspect of their growth is the development of their fine motor skills, which refers to the movements made with the small muscles of the hands. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at what fine motor skills are, how they help our children, and how they develop over time.

From the moment they are born, babies start to use their hands to explore the world around them. Their fine motor skills continue to develop as their whole body becomes more stable and they improve their cognitive and social/emotional skills. To give you an idea of what to expect as your child grows, let’s take a look at some typical infant developmental milestones for fine motor skills.

0-4 Months:
  • Your baby will turn their head towards sounds and voices
  • They will stare at bright objects and follow them with their eyes
  • They will move their arms together and apart
  • They will bring their hands to their mouth and may suck on their hands or fingers
  • By 4 months, they will lift their head and shoulders off the floor when laying on their tummy
4-8 Months:
  • Your baby will grab onto objects within reach
  • They will roll over to explore and get to objects
  • They will prop themselves up on their arms when laying on their tummy
  • They will sit independently for brief periods
  • They will pass objects from one hand to the other
Things To Be Wary Of for 0-8 Months:
  • If your baby still keeps one or both hands clenched in a fist
  • If their arms seem very stiff
  • If they are unable to prop themselves up when laying on their tummy
  • If they are unable to pick up objects within reach
  • If they are unable to sit by themselves for short periods
  • If they are unable to roll over to get objects
8-12 Months:
  • Your baby will reach, grab, and put objects in their mouth
  • They will pinch small objects (e.g. cheerios) with their thumb and pointer finger
  • They will move objects from one hand to the other
  • They will drop and pick up toys
  • They will bang two objects together
  • They will let go of objects on purpose
  • They will put things into containers (with large openings) and take them out again
  • They will bite and chew toys
  • They will hold a spoon (but not yet feed themselves)
  • They will hold their own bottle
  • They will hold out an arm or leg to help with dressing
  • They will wave hello or goodbye
Things To Be Wary Of for 12 Months:
  • If your child is unable to grasp toys and let them go
  • If they are unable to bring toys to their mouth or bang them together
  • If they are unable to bring their hands together at the middle of their body (e.g. clapping)
  • If they are unable to feed themselves finger foods using their thumb and pointer finger to pick up food
  • If their movements seem shaky or stiff
  • If they are unable to move around on the floor to get the toys they want
  • If they are unable to put objects into a large container
  • If their hands are kept in a fisted position
  • If they are unable to hold a bottle by themselves

    As a parent or caregiver, you play a big role in helping your child develop their fine motor skills. By providing them with opportunities to practice, you can help them reach their full potential. Here are some examples of toys that can support the development of fine motor skills at different stages:

    0-4 months:
    • Soft toys with contrasting colors or patterns that your baby can look at and reach for
    • Rattles that make noise when shaken
    • Soft toys with different textures for your baby to touch and feel
    4-8 months:
    • Stacking blocks that your baby can hold and fit together
    • Soft toys that crinkle or squeak when squeezed
    • Nesting toys that can be taken apart and put back together
    • Mirrors for your baby to look at themselves
    8-12 months:
    • Chunky, easy-to-hold toys, like stacking cups
    • Building blocks and puzzles with large pieces
    • Toy phones and remotes with buttons to press
    • Play-doh or clay for pinching and squeezing
    • Activity boards with buttons, levers, and switches
    • Pretend play toys like kitchen sets and tool sets

    Remember, these toys are just suggestions, and every child is different. Observe your child and see what they are naturally drawn to and interested in. This will give you an idea of what toys may be best for them to practice their fine motor skills.

    Fine motor skills are an important aspect of a child’s development. They help children with tasks such as holding a pencil, using utensils and manipulating objects. By providing your child with opportunities to practice and toys to support their development, you can help them reach their full potential. If you have concerns about your child’s fine motor development, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor or a health professional.

    Information reference from Kamloops Childrens Therapy

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