1.5–2 years old: Fine motor skill development

1.5–2 years old: Fine motor skill development

Your toddler’s fine motor development at 19–24 months old. Follow your toddler’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: 1.5–2 years old

At this age:

  • Your toddler can nest measuring cups and boxes inside one another.
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 remove certain items of clothing without help (e.g., hat, mitts, socks, unbuttoned coat).
  • They can unwrap an object wrapped in paper.
  • They’re learning how to use simple tools, such as toy hammers.
  • They can stack up to five blocks.
  • They can drink from a cup by lifting it to their mouth and then setting it back on the table.

Over the next few months, your toddler will begin to do the following:

  • Try to open doors by turning the handle.
  • Get better at staying within the borders of the page when drawing.
  • Try to open and close children’s scissors with both hands.
  • Assemble large building blocks into structures.
  • Hold their cup with one hand.
  • Get better at eating with a spoon or fork.
Find out how to develop your toddler’s fine motor skills with books. (In French)

How can you help your toddler progress?

Every child is different and develops at their own pace. That said, you can help foster your child’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 help develop your toddler’s fine motor skills.

When you let your toddler get undressed by themself whenever possible,
they feel more independent and practise their hand-eye coordination.
When you put different containers in your toddler’s bath,
they’ll enjoy repeatedly filling them with water and pouring it back into the tub. This improves their upper-arm mobility.
When you give your toddler large beads or buttons to thread on a string,
they can practise going through the steps in the right order: threading the beads or buttons, pulling them along the string, etc.
When you give your toddler simple foam shapes or a shape sorter toy (with no more than three shapes),
they learn to distinguish between the different shapes (e.g., circles, squares, triangles) using their eyes and hands.
When you help your toddler create pictures with stickers while describing what you’re doing out loud,
they get to practise peeling off the stickers and putting them in various places on a sheet of paper. This develops the small muscles in their fingers.
When you ask your toddler to open and close plastic containers,
they exercise their fine motor skills and learn to feel for how to get the lids on and off properly. They also practise problem solving.


Naître et grandir

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


Photo: GettyImages/Massonstock



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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