Fine motor skills refer to the ability to coordinate the movement of small muscles. These skills are also known as ‘dexterity’. They involve the synchronisation of the hands and fingers with the eyes. Here are the fine motor skills milestones that you can expect your baby to cross in the first year of her life.
0 to 1 Month
- Your baby’s fists remain clenched most of the time.
- He exhibits the grasping reflex. Hold a finger out to him and you will find him grabbing it and holding it tightly. This is also known as the palmar grasp.
- He tries to put his fist into his mouth and even succeeds sometimes!
1 to 6 Months
- Your baby can open and close her fists.
- She takes a swipe at objects dangled in front of her.
- Her hand–eye coordination improves and she uses her fingers and thumbs together to grab things.
- She brings objects to her mouth.
- She can reach for and hold small toys in her hands without tucking in the thumb.
- She follows objects with her eyes in all directions.
7 to 12 Months
- The baby practises the pincer grasp.
- He can put things into a container and pick things out of it.
- He starts to stack blocks, and can stack 2–3 blocks by the time he completes 1 year.
- He can bang two cubes together.
- He pokes at things with his index finger.
- He can transfer objects from one hand to the other.
- He tries to imitate scribbling.
Red flags to watch for
While we’ve listed the milestones, you need to understand that every child is unique and these milestones are only indicative. Don't worry if your baby’s progress seems slow. However, you need to look out for some red flags. Talk to your paediatrician if you think there is a cause for concern. The American Academy of Pediatrics lists the red flags as follows.
- By 2 months, your baby has not started to use her hands.
- By 3 months, she seems to be lacking the grasping reflex. She does not grab your finger and cannot hold her head up well.
- By 4 months, she does not grab or bring objects to her mouth.
- By 7 months, she reaches out with only one hand and has difficulty getting objects into her mouth.
- By 1 year, she is not waving, shaking her head to say ‘no’, or pointing to objects.
The first year is an eventful period in your child’s development. You will be awestruck as you observe his gradual development, starting from the clumsy raking of objects around him to grasping small objects with a pincer grasp using his little fingers!