Fine motor skills develop in a logical order: from the top of the body downwards, and from the centre of the body outwards.
Fine motor skills require the hands and fingers to perform very specific movements. They depend on the development of tiny hand and arm muscles, the transmission of the right messages to the brain to produce these movements, hand-eye coordination, and spatial awareness. Babies learn to better assess distances through trial and error and will eventually move their little hands to the right place.
Fine motor skills develop in a logical order: from the top of the body downwards, and from the centre of the body outwards. “Before 2 months, babies mostly bend and stretch their arms, and open and close their hands as an automatic reflex. At around 2 months old, they become aware of their hands, play with them, join them together. Manual dexterity evolves quickly,” explains Patrick Major.
As soon as babies are able to coordinate their hand movements (around 6 months), they put all objects offered to them in their mouths for oral exploration.
Games to help your baby along
Your baby enjoys…
- Opening up her hands with your help and exploring touch by stroking various materials: plush, corrugated cardboard, feathers, etc. (From 1 month old)
Notice each step, before it’s on to the next!
“At six-and-a-half months old, Ian started crawling and trying to get on all fours. At 7 months, he was sitting alone, and a week later, he was scampering along on all fours. He’s been getting up and standing since he turned 7 ½ months old. I don’t have time to get my head around one milestone, before he’s already moved on to another!”
- Taking hold of textured objects with her hands. She slowly learns to wrap her fingers around each item. At 2 months old, she’ll be able to hold an object and eventually shake it. (At around 3 or 4 months old, she’ll be able to shake a rattle).
- Trying to grab an object just out of her reach. Congratulate her if she stretches out her hand! (Around 6 months)
- Transferring a toy from one hand to the other, when one hand is occupied and you deliberately offer her another toy. (Around 7 months)
- Working on her “pincer grasp” by picking up tiny objects with her thumb and index finger, like a piece of banana or a crumb on her tray. (8 or 9 months)
- Giving you a toy and taking it back over and over. (Around 9 months)
- Learning to clap her hands, to wave hello or goodbye, to point to objects or things she wants with her finger. (Around 9 or 10 months)
- Placing objects in a container and taking them out. (At 11 or 12 months)
A personality at just a few months old
“Six months ago, Raphaële was born. Today, she knows where a spoonful of cereal goes, brings objects to her mouth and screeches with laughter when we cover her neck in kisses. It’s fascinating. But it’s not just her body that’s growing; her little character and personality are emerging, too.”