4 months old: Fine motor skill development

4 months old: Fine motor skill development

Your baby’s fine motor skill development at 4 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.

Fine motor skill development: 4 months old

At this age:

  • Your baby’s hands gradually start to open up and aren’t balled up into fists as much.
  • They can grip nearby objects as if they were wearing mittens (i.e., they’ll use their fingers but not their thumbs).
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.
  • They can bend their elbows and bring their arms to the centre of their chest to touch or grab an object.
  • They start using both hands to reach for objects that are placed in front of them.
  • Your baby brings objects to their mouth, which allows them to practise certain reflexes and mouth movements. This prepares them for eating solid foods.
  • They hold their hands away from their body in order to look at them and play with their fingers.
  • Their eyes move from one object to another and they focus on nearby toys.

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

  • Intentionally shake a rattle in their hand.

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 play with your fingers during feeding times,
they enjoy the intimacy and closeness of the experience.
When you give your baby one toy at a time,
they get to concentrate on and explore new things without feeling rushed.
When you give your baby toys that they can grab,
they get to practise looking at, reaching for, and touching things over and over.
When you give your baby objects of different shapes and sizes,
they use their fingers in different ways to pick them up. Your baby notices their shape and weight, and gradually learns to adapt their movements to different objects.
When you name each toy your baby holds or plays with,
they gradually learn the names of different objects.
When you praise your baby’s efforts (e.g., by saying, “Well done!”),
they learn to recognize when they’ve done something correctly.


Naître et grandir

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


Photo: GettyImages/Vladimirs



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  • 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