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Educational Toys - How to Develop Your Baby's Fine Motor Skills

What are Fine Motor Skills?

Fine motor skills require the use of small muscles, such as those in the hands, fingers and thumbs. These are the skills required to grasp small objects, write, draw and fasten clothing. You can help your baby develop fine motor skills easily by practising every day in your usual routines. Your baby can pick up small foods with her fingers at mealtimes, scoop and pour water out of containers at bath time, and string colourful beads on a string at playtime. Before you know it, your baby will be able to complete more complex tasks like zipping up clothes, use eating utensils, and form letters with a pencil.

How can you help your baby develop fine motor skills through play?

Newborn:

  • Encourage your baby to reach and grasp for things like your fingers, rattles or soft toys.
  • Try giving your baby toys that make sounds, and shake or rattle them to encourage her to hold them.
  • When your baby is on her tummy, put toys just out of her reach so she can reach and grasp them.
  • When your baby is sitting on your lap, give your baby toys to hold on to with her hands.
 
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6-12 Months:

  • During mealtimes, give your baby small items such as raisins or small crackers and watch her use her pincher grip.
  • Try giving your baby objects that she can move and stack.
  • During bath time, give your baby containers to scoop with and pour water out of. This can also work outside, scooping and pouring sand in a sandpit.
  • Objects like building blocks will help your baby practice banging together.
  • Teach your baby to clap her hands and wave bye-bye!

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12-18 months:

  • During mealtimes, give your baby her own spoon to feed herself with.
  • Make homemade play dough and have fun squeezing and rolling with your baby.
  • When dressing or undressing your baby, allow her to take off an easy article of clothing such as her sock or hat, and put it back on again.
  • Stringing colourful beads or stacking wooden pieces on a wooden post are wonderful ways for your baby to develop fine motor skills.
  • When choosing puzzles, look for chunky wooden puzzles with knobs on them to make it easy for your baby to grasp.
  • Shape toys that need to be pulled, twisted and pushed through holes are great for your baby’s fine motor skills development.
  • In the kitchen, show your baby how to stir in bowls with wooden spoons and bang saucepan lids together.

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18 months to 2 years:

  • During story time with your baby, let her turn the pages by herself.
  • Give your baby crayons to colour with and show her how to draw different shapes. Let her try master fine motor skills by creating shapes on her own.
  • Encourage your baby to help get herself dressed.
  • Provide your baby with open boxes with lids to take on and off, or drawers to open and close.
  • Encourage your baby to wash and dry her hands herself.

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2-3 Years:

  • Use child safe scissors and let your child cut shapes out of paper.
  • Give your child a peg board and let her put round and square pegs into holes.
  • Lacing and threading activities are great practice for your baby’s fine motor skills.
  • Make snack time fun by providing ways for your child to prepare her own snack such as taking lids off of containers and using a child-friendly knife for cutting soft foods.
  • Make music together with instruments like keyboards, xylophones or drums that use your child’s hands.

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3 years and older:

  • Your child will enjoy activities involving lacing, buttoning, strapping velcro straps and latches on a doll or activity board.
  • Let your child hold books during story time and turn the pages herself.
  • Tool sets allow your child to create and assemble objects using nuts, wrenches, screws and screwdrivers that are just perfect size for her small hands.
  • Allow your child to practice balance by pouring water in to a cup or carrying a container full of liquid across the room without spilling.
  • Build structures such as towers or bridges and assemble tracks and roads.

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If you are looking for toys to help your baby or toddler to develop fine motor skills, have a look at Hello Charlie's range of educational toys to help your baby's development.

Copyright © Vanessa Layton 2013

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