The Fine Motor Skills Checklist

Author: Liz   Date Posted:27 May 2016 

We all know playtime is an important part of a child's development, one of the critical skills play encourages is the development of fine motor skills which primarily use the small muscles in the in the hands and fingers.

Fine motor skills milestone blog article top image

For the first few years of life, children have dozens of important developmental milestones. In addition to tracking weight and listening for first words, parents should keep track of the development of fine motor skills. 

Children usually acquire skills at specific ages. You can watch for actions and behaviours that prove your child has developed a skill, and you can engage them in different playtime activities to help them.

0 to 3 Months

In your baby's first three months, most fine motor skills relate to the general movement of the arms and legs. By three months, your baby should be able to:

  • Open and close his fists
  • Hold a rattle for a few moments.
  • Bring his hands to his mouth.

Your child may have a developmental issue if by two months, he seems unaware of his hands, or if by three months, he doesn't grab onto your finger.

4 to 6 Months

When your baby is between the ages of four and six months, he should be able to:

  • Play with his feet while lying on his back.
  • Reach for toys.
  • Use a raking motion to grab objects.

Around this age, toys become an important part of the development of fine motor skills. You can use toys that the baby can hold in his hand to encourage him to reach and grasp. He should be interested in reaching for toys, and he should be able to pass them from hand to hand while lying on his back.

7 to 12 Months

From seven to 12 months, your child will probably start to take a greater interest in toys. By the time your baby is a year old, he should be able to:

  • Pick up objects with thumb and forefinger.
  • Use both hands to play with toys.
  • Point with his index finger.

Playing with blocks is great for kids at this age. Your child will probably enjoy stacking two or three blocks and picking up and dropping objects.

1 to 3 Years

Between one and three years, your child will have several important developmental milestones. Your child should be able to:

  • Turn doorknobs.
  • Unzip a zipper.
  • Place shapes in a shape sorter.
  • Hold a crayon.

At this age, one of the best ways to help your child develop fine motor skills is to draw with him. Being able to hold and use a crayon, a pencil, or a piece of chalk is one of the most important milestones. Playing with building blocks and clay or Play-Doh is also great at this age.

4 to 5 Years

At four and five years old, your child should reach new stages of coordination. He should be able to:

  • Brush his teeth.
  • Write the numbers 1 through 5.
  • Colour inside the lines.
  • Draw squares and circles.

At this age, playing dress-up with your child can be a valuable activity, especially with clothes that involve zippers and buttons. Colouring and drawing are also great activities to develop fine motor skills.

These are general guidelines for the fine motor skill timeline. Not all children will develop these skills at the exact same pace, but your child should reach all of these milestones around the correct age. Playing with your child is one of the best ways to encourage these skills, as many playtime activities involve the hands and fingers.