3 months old: Fine motor skill development

3 months old: Fine motor skill development

CYour baby’s fine motor skill development at 3 months old. Follow your baby’s milestones step-by-step.

Fine motor skill development allows babies to learn how to use the little muscles in their hands and fingers to perform subtle movements, such as reaching for, grabbing, and handling small objects. By 3 months, your baby will be better able to grip objects and control their head movements.

Fine motor skill development: 3 months old

At this age:

  • Your baby’s grasp reflex slowly diminishes and they’re able to open their hands wider. However, their fingers remain slightly closed most of the time.
Remember that not all children develop the same skills at the same speed. The material on this website is for general information purposes only. If you’re concerned about your child’s development, speak with a doctor.
  • If you place an object in your baby’s hand, they can shake it for a few seconds without dropping it.
  • Your baby clasps their hands and puts them in their mouth.
  • They try to reach objects by making spontaneous arm movements. They often touch objects with their fingers balled into fists.
  • When they handle or drop an object, their movements remain involuntary.

Over the next few weeks, your baby will begin to do the following:

  • Swipe at hanging objects but often miss their target.
  • Look at an object and turn their head to watch it move from one side to another.
  • Examine and touch their fingers; this is the beginning of hand-eye coordination.
  • Open their hands with more intention. Begin to pick up toys using their palm, ring finger, and pinky.
  • Intentionally bring their arms to the centre of their body to play with their fingers.

How can you help your baby progress?

Every child is different and develops at their own pace. That said, you can help foster your baby’s development by adopting the Comfort, Play, and Teach parenting approach, which can easily be integrated into your daily routine. The table below outlines small, age-specific actions you can take that will benefit your baby’s fine motor skill development.

When you let your baby suck their thumb or other fingers,
they learn how to self-soothe.
When you carry your baby outside or from one room to another to familiarize them with their environment,
they get to learn about their surroundings, focus on different things, and track moving objects.
When you clap your baby’s palms together,
they learn a new way to play with their hands and develop body awareness.
When you gently massage your baby’s palms and fingers,
they enjoy the physical sensation and become aware of different parts of their body.
When you hold an object in front of your baby and encourage them to touch it,
they learn to use their eyes and hands simultaneously to grab an object within reach.
When you let your baby grip your finger,
they practise holding and learn to better control their finger muscles.


Naître et grandir

Scientific review: Sonya Côté, occupational therapist
Research and copywriting: The Naître et grandir team
Updated: September 2019


Photo: GettyImages/mixetto


Please note that hyperlinks to other websites are not updated regularly, and some may have changed since publication. It is therefore possible that a link may not be found. If a link is no longer valid, use search engines to find the relevant information.

  • Ferland, Francine. Le développement de l’enfant au quotidien : de 0 à 6 ans. 2nd ed., Éditions du CHU Sainte-Justine, 2018, 264 pp.
  • Canadian Paediatric Society. Caring for Kids. “Your child’s development: What to expect.” www.caringforkids.cps.ca
  • Université de Montréal. “Portail enfance et familles : Les étapes de développement de l’enfant de la naissance à l’adolescence.” www.portailenfance.ca