Fine motor development is as important as baby's first steps

Parents often focus on major milestones in their child's development. The baby steps that we see such as crawling, walking and talking are not always the most important. Your child is developing specific movements of small muscles, which are mostly found in the hands, called fine motor skills. Starting at birth, your baby is beginning to work on fine motor development. This development is vital to an infant's ability to experience and learn about the world around him or her. There are many activities to build fine motor skills that can be incorporated in your child's everyday routines and activities. Newborns naturally have a reflex in their hands. Infants often keep a tight fist and will grasp at an object placed in their hand without knowing. As your baby grows, he or she will be able to grasp an object that is within reach. For early toddlers, playing a simple game of filling up and dumping out toys from a container can help with fine motor as well as cognitive skills.
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Jul 25, 2010

Parents often focus on major milestones in their child's development.

The baby steps that we see such as crawling, walking and talking are not always the most important. Your child is developing specific movements of small muscles, which are mostly found in the hands, called fine motor skills. Starting at birth, your baby is beginning to work on fine motor development. This development is vital to an infant's ability to experience and learn about the world around him or her.

There are many activities to build fine motor skills that can be incorporated in your child's everyday routines and activities.

Newborns naturally have a reflex in their hands. Infants often keep a tight fist and will grasp at an object placed in their hand without knowing. As your baby grows, he or she will be able to grasp an object that is within reach. For early toddlers, playing a simple game of filling up and dumping out toys from a container can help with fine motor as well as cognitive skills.

For older toddlers, try toasted oates cereal, demonstrating how to drop them into an empty pop bottle and encourage the youngsters to do the same. Giving your toddler stacking blocks or cups will encourage fine motor skills as well.

Getting dressed and undressed everyday is another opportunity for your toddler to practice hand-eye coordination. Working on pulling up pants, fastening shoes with velcro or buttoning large buttons are skills to help.

Providing your child with a large sheet of paper and thick sturdy crayons can also help with grasping and holding skills. To explore different sensory skills and creativity, try finger-painting and using play dough.

For early preschoolers, supervised use of scissors will build fine motor abilities. Songs and finger plays, such as "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and "This Little Piggy," can be performed with a child of any age.

Working on fine motor development is a great time for one-on-one bonding and modeling with your child. These playtime activities that you and your toddler discover together help develop fine motor skills that are as important as baby's first steps.