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Fine motor skills for baby

by AlexisH
Fine Motor Skills Development for Baby

There is nothing as spectacular about a baby’s skill as development. However, the resourcefulness of the development is essential to autonomy, and the ease that comes from the manual aptitudes of the toddler.

Table of contents

We can easily recognize the extreme importance of our hands as tools. However, newborns do not fulfill this function but use it as a sense organ. Gradually, the newborn will learn to use the tool function. At the same time, he will neglect the tactile exploration function at the expense of his other senses. For instance, sight and hearing start becoming predominant while education such as touching things to discover them quickly joins the category of impolite behavior.

0-9 months: touch to explore

The skin, like the ear, ensures the first contact between the child and the world. He does not go looking for tactile sensations. Instead, they come to him through his movements, even if these remain involuntary. They transmit information to him which he does not decode, but records. Very quickly, it passes to voluntary exploration.

Until 2 months, his vision remains uncertain. He sees blurred and in a limited field because the receptor cells of his retina are not yet fully developed. The baby will distinguish more shapes and colors. As a result, he receives more visual information and pays more attention to it.

At 3 months, the archaic grasping reflex also known as the grasping reflex disappears. The newborn’s palm closes as soon as you touch it. If you stroke it, it would only squeeze your finger because you held it in place. Objects do not have this complacency, so they systematically escape him. The disappearance of the grasping reflex comes at the right time, as he can now distinguish them more precisely and covet anything that comes within his field of vision. He can now grab a small object when you hand it to him, but cannot keep it in his hand.

At 5 months, he wins two victories. The baby connects vision and prehension. He looks at what he touches and wants to touch what he sees while looking for a specific object. The newborn keeps the objects in his hand. In addition, his lips are a source of rich tactile sensations, and he immediately brings them to his mouth to extend and complete his exploration. It is useless to try to dissuade him. 

At around 6 months, the newborn can pick up things on his own, without being handed to him. As he continues to put them in his mouth, it is advisable to be careful not to forget objects in his vicinity that he could swallow. This habit will last beyond the acquisition of walking. At the same time, the baby discovers that his hands are independent. They can accomplish different, simultaneous, and complementary actions. The actions obviously fascinate him but do not necessarily seem to be of extreme interest to you. These are actions like catching an object, dropping it, picking it up, passing it from one hand to the other, tapping it on the ground or against another object… But for him, these are new experiments. He needs to repeat them to assimilate them.

At 7 months old, he realizes that his thumb deserves attention. Until now, he hadn’t used it before.  He now tries to associate it with his little finger.

At 9 months, he enjoys a primate privilege: the pincer. It is enough to try to do without the grip between the thumb and the index finger. This verifies its importance to human skill. As his thumb becomes more flexible, the child will gradually associate it with his other four fingers.  However, he will not possess the tripod pincer, thumb/index/major until he is 3 years old. What an enrichment for his games! Moreover, he shows his enthusiasm thanks to a gesture that he has also just learned: he claps.

10 months-2 years: playing to become independent

While the child does not question the benefits of play, this does not prevent them from noticing them.    Playing allows him to acquire and develop the skills that will enable him to diversify and spice up his games. He also learns to move towards even greater autonomy.

The nature of his games depends on the gestures he masters. Being a good prince, he enjoys the games to his heart’s content without trying to hasten the movement towards new pleasures. At 10-11 months, he knows how to empty and fill. So, he empties and fills tirelessly! Around 1 year, he now knows how to stack. So he stacks!

His tenacity serves his progress. You will rarely see a toddler give up before reaching his goal. Not even afterwards. One challenge immediately follows another. For example, no sooner does he know how to stack two cubes, than he starts adding a third, then a fourth, and so on.

For his experiments, he needs materials. At this point, the child does not need a lot of toys since too much would interfere with his concentration. He also does not require technological marvels either, which often bore him because they leave too little room for his creativity. Just a few basic, easy-to-grab, colorful, multi-purpose toys – and of course, totally reliable in terms of safety.

He tries to imitate your gestures as early as one year old. Don’t be mistaken: the baby hasn’t quite understood how a toy works. He is copying you. Therefore, you will have to repeat your demonstration as often as necessary.

He has just understood that an action has an effect. The child will start to memorize the results of his experiments, then repeat the actions with a precise goal. The next step is to combine several actions. This will allow him to develop increasingly complex strategies to meet increasingly ambitious challenges.

Around 2 years old, he starts to have mental images. He thinks about a gesture before doing it. He still lacks precision and strength. He remains more ingenious than skillful.

Fully aware of his progress, he claims the right to manage all by himself in everyday actions. This is not always a success. He can drink from a cup and remove clothes without buttons or fasteners… But he will not handle his spoon in a satisfactory way until he is 3 years old.

Ages 2-5: the ace of the pencil

At this age, drawing would be a manual activity like any other. Emphasis is placed on graphic design more than modeling, collage, or any other activity. The steps to take are common:

He likes to doodle around 12-15 months if he is given paper and pencils. Around 18 months, he follows with his eyes the path of his hand. Then he starts to observe what he has done. Don’t hesitate to waste paper by often providing him with blank sheets: a pile of scribbles doesn’t prevent him from having fun, but he doesn’t get any information from them that could help him progress.

Around 2 years old, he tries to guide his hand with the help of his eyes. He masters the starting point of his strokes – much less their path, not at all their endpoint. He produces circular scribbles, not circles. Around 2 1/2 years old, he tries to represent things.

At about 3 years old, he starts to make the universal tadpole man. It is initially a more or less closed circle, decorated with radiating lines representing (in the mind of the child!) the members or the hair.

Around 4 years, the tadpole man becomes vertical. The tadpole man is now oval and elongated, evoking more of a human standing. However, the head and the body remain included in the same oval. The artist endows it with elements borrowed from the body (eyes, ears, hands…) and/or accessories. We consider this “tadpole” as a barometer of the child’s development. The profusion of details indicates a good look, and it doesn’t matter the quality of the execution.

Around 5 years old, the head and trunk separate into two circles placed one on top of the other, approximately in proportion. Each part has appropriate elements. The process is completed. The child will not neglect the “men”.

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