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.
We’ve got lots of suggestions for toys to improve fine motor skills, so read on!
Newborn Fine Motor Actitivies
- 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.
Newborn Toys for Fine Motor Development
The best toys to help newborn fine motor skills are toys that make a sound and encourage baby to reach, grasp and shake them. Rattles are especially good fine motor toys for babies, and there are lots of baby rattles to choose from.
Try the Apple Park Organic Soft Rattle. These are soft, round rattles made with organic cotton and stuffed with corn fibre, so they’re safe for baby to put in her mouth.
We love the Hess Spielzeug Wooden Ball Rattle, too. It’s a wonderful fine motor toy for infants, as it makes a lovely gentle jangly sound when baby shakes it, and the wooden rings are interesting for baby fingers to feel, too.
Fine Motor Activities for 6 Month Olds
- 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!
6 Month Old Toys for Fine Motor Development
Six month olds will love picking things up, spinning things around and banging objects together.
Im Toy Triangle Activity has picture spinners, shape sorting, and wooden bead spinners. Baby will love sitting up and playing with this brightly coloured wooden toy.
Petit Collage Busy Bear Organic Baby Activity Toy has a beechwood ring for chewing on, and lots of lovely tags for little fingers to feel and make noises with. There’s even a little apple that goes in and out of bear’s pocket. Perfect for helping baby to develop the muscle strength to reach into the pocket and get it out.
Toddler Fine Motor Skills Activities
- 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.
Fine Motor Skills Toys for Toddlers
You may like to introduce some puzzles for toddlers. Chunky wooden puzzles will help toddlers to grip the pegs in a pincer grip, then try to fit the shapes back in. We like the Everearth Shape Knob Puzzle.
Other toys to help with fine motor skills are the Im Toy Deluxe Block Walker. Not only will this help with fine motor development, it will help with gross motor development, too. Toddlers can stack, sort and build with the wooden blocks, and pull themselves up with the walker.
Plan Toys First Stacking Ring will help develop baby’s skills as she tries to fit the wooden rings and ball over the central rod.
Fine Motor Skills Activities for 18 Month Olds
- 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.
18 Month Old Fine Motor Toys
The Wonderworld Multi Shape Sorter will test your 18 month old’s problem solving skills and fine motor skills as she tries to fit the blocks and shapes together.
Everearth My First Multi Play Activity Cube will test toddler fine motor skills as she works her way around the sliding peg board, the shape sorter, wooden bead abacus, and the bead play top.
We love the multifunctional Im Toy Five in One Activity Stacker – there’s so much going on in this one toy! There’s lacing, belt buckling, hard buttoning, soft buttoning, zippering, shoe lacing, bead sliding and more. Enough to keep little fingers busy for hours.
Fine Motor Skills Activities for 2 Year Olds
- 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.
2 Year Old Fine Motor Toys
Djeco Cuddly Lacing is a great way to help develop fine motor skills. Toddlers can thread the colourful lacing cords around the wooden boards, and lace on the chunky buttons.
Melissa & Doug Latches Board is one of our all time favourite toddler toys. There are all sorts of latches that need to be undone so your child can find out what’s behind the doors. It requires patience and dexterity, and is absolutely ideal for developing fine motor skills.
Hape Toys Mighty Mini Band has a drum, a xylophone, clappers, a cymbal and a guiro. Your toddler will be making music in no time, and having a ball while she does it!
Preschool Fine Motor Activities
- 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 like towers or bridges and assemble tracks and roads.
Fine Motor Toys for Preschoolers
Threading beads for fine motor skills are a great choice of toy, and the Hape Creative Lacers are one of our favourites. Bright, chunky wooden beads to string together and create patterns.
Start drawing with the Djeco Double Sided Twin Crayons. Great for preschoolers to exercise their creativity, while they’re developing the muscles that will be needed to start learning to write.
Im Toy Activity Workbench with Tools has lots of handy wooden tools, and brightly coloured pounding pegs, nuts and bolts to screw together and develop dexterity in little fingers.
Wonderworld Magic Switcher is a marble run that requires problem solving skills and fine motor skills to put the track together and make the ball roll through to the end of the track. Great for team work, too.
If you are looking for best toys for fine motor skills, have a look at Hello Charlie’s range of educational toys to help your baby’s development.