36 Fine Motor Activities for Babies and Toddlers (From 0-3 Years)

Develop your baby’s fine motor skills and strengthen those little muscles with these simple fine motor activities for babies and toddlers! For ages 0-3.

If you look at the milestones that parents celebrate, they’re usually things like the first time their baby sat up, or crawled, or walked. You’ll even find baby books in many homes, filled with pictures of babies doing these tasks.

However, it’s rare to find a memory of the first time baby picked up something from the floor with her fingers, or the first time she stuffed something inside a jar. And this is why fine motor skills don’t get the recognition gross motor skills do!

Gross motor skills are the ones that use large muscle groups for tasks like walking, standing or running. These require less precision and are developed early. Fine motor skills are the ones that use the smaller muscles for tasks like writing or drawing. These usually require more precision and are more complex.

From this you can see that while gross motor skills usually develop largely by normal development processes, fine motor skills need some extra help.

Why are fine motor skills important?

Fine motor skills come into play whenever we use our hands and fingers – which is for everything we do on a daily basis. As a result, if these skills are weak, children can struggle with everyday tasks, especially once they start school. They can have trouble writing neatly, or tying their shoe laces or using a pair of scissors. That’s why it’s so important to develop fine motor skills and the good news is that you can start any time!

Here is a collection of fine motor activities for babies and toddlers, for ages 0-3. So go the section featuring your child’s age group and let’s strengthen those tiny muscles!

36 Fine Motor Activities for Babies and Toddlers

0-6 Months

Newborns don’t have any fine motor skills to speak of, but as they get aware of the world around them, you can notice a few developments. Here are some milestones to watch out for by the time your baby completes half a year:

0-3 months

  • Follows Mom or Dad by moving their eyes and then head in that direction
  • Watches their hands move and can bring them to the mouth
  • Bats at objects by moving their arms
  • Grasps a person’s finger or a rattle handed to them

3-6 months

  • Holds hands together, somewhere along the midline of the body
  • Transfers objects from one hand to the other
  • Reaches out for objects with both arms
  • Can use both their hands in a seated position when adequately supported

6-9 Months

By now, your baby has started solid foods, and this automatically opens up a lot of exploration opportunity! You can now notice the following developments:

  • Uses fingers to move objects
  • Uses index finger to poke at things
  • Explores most things through the mouth
  • Holds the bottle or cup
  • Squeezes objects with fists

9-12 Months

Your baby is now his own person and has come along way from that helpless newborn! Now your baby is old enough to do most of these:

  • Develops the pincer grasp – holding objects with the thumb and index finger
  • Holds two objects in one hand at a time
  • Turns multiple pages of a regular book at once
  • Puts smaller objects in containers
  • Shows a marked preference for the right or left hand

1-2 Years

Your baby is now officially a toddler, and he has the skills to show! Over the next few months, your baby’s fine motor skills will develop at a fast pace and you can observe the following milestones:

  • Uses hands for gestures like clapping and waving
  • Builds a tower with a few blocks
  • Scoops smaller objects with a spoon or scoop
  • Scribbles with a crayon or pencil on paper

2-3 Years

Your little one is heading towards becoming a preschooler and it’s more important than ever to exercise little muscles and polish up those fine motor skills! Here’s what you can look forward to now:

  • Holds crayons with the thumb and fingers
  • Turns pages one at a time in a regular book
  • Inserts smaller objects through narrow holes, like threading or lacing

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