2.5–3 years old: fine motor skill development

2.5–3 years old: fine motor skill development

Your toddler’s fine motor skill development at 30–36 months. Follow your child’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: 2.5–3years old

At this age:

  • Your child goes from gripping a pencil in their fist to holding it with the tips of their fingers.
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’re learning to draw dots, circles, and short lines.
  • They’re starting to cut paper with scissors, though not necessarily in a straight line.
  • They sometimes manage to turn the pages of a book.
  • They can turn knobs to open doors.

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

  • Hold pens, pencils, and markers like an adult.
  • Draw a scribble and say that they’ve written their name.
  • Participate in sing-alongs and fingerplay games.
  • Take off their own clothes and get dressed without help when loose clothing is set out in front of them.
  • Fasten large buttons.
Find out how to support your toddler’s fine motor skill development through 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 toddler’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 do simple fingerplay games with your toddler,
they enjoy the tactile experience and have fun pretending their fingers are people.
When you praise your toddler’s drawings and point out how much they’ve improved,
they feel proud of their skills and creations and are encouraged to keep drawing.
When you read your toddler their favourite story and ask them to turn the pages,
they enjoy spending time with you and learn to love books. They also get to practise their fine motor skills.
When you provide everything your toddler needs to write and draw (e.g., pens, chalk, markers, pencils),
they can explore different ways of colouring and expressing themself.
When you provide your toddler with board books they can read to their dolls and teddy bears,
they get to practise turning the pages and develop an interest in reading and writing at a young age.
When you help your toddler cut out paper tickets for a puppet show,
they learn that using scissors is a handy skill for all kinds of fun projects.
When you give your toddler different types of clothes that have snaps, buttons, and zippers,
they get to play dress-up while practising their fine motor skills at their own pace.
When you make birthday or greeting cards with your toddler and fill them with personalized messages,
your toddler practises cutting, folding, and drawing. They also get to express themselves through art.
When you read and write in front of your toddler,
they understand that these are useful skills and feel encouraged to learn them.


Naître et grandir

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


Photo: 123rf.com/jeecis



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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