Fine Motor Skills

Below are general guidelines for children's fine motor developmental milestones.

0-2 months

  • Will close hand when object is placed in palm (grasp reflex)
  • Moves arms in random motions
  • Holds hands loosely fisted, majority of time

2-3 months

  • When the back of the hand is rubbed, he/she will open his/her hand
  • Randomly swipes at objects, but unable to grasp
  • Child often bring hands to mouth and to the middle of the body

3-4 months

  • Demonstrates sustained grasp on toys, but involuntarily releases objects
  • Able to spontaneously open and close his or her hands
  • Attempts to reach for items, but with a bent arm
  • Brings hands to mouth and watches hands

4-6 months

  • Swipes for items with both arms with poor control
  • Plays with hands when positioned in middle of body
  • When lying on stomach, child is able to reach for toys by shifting weight
  • Grasps items with fingers and thumb but does not wrap thumb around item
  • Transfers toys from hand to hand

6-8 months

  • Able to reach for items with straight arms
  • Attempts to pick up small items off play surface using finger raking motion
  • Grasps toys with thumb opposed to index and middle finger
  • Unable to voluntarily release objects without placing against a surface to assist
  • Can hold a bottle on own

8-9 months

  • Grasps small items with thumb against side of pointed index finger
  • Demonstrates playing with simple cause and effect toys
  • Release of medium-sized toy into large container clumsily
  • Finger feeds self

9-12 months

  • Able to accurately release medium-sized objects into larger containers and attempts to reach to reach into containers to remove objects

12-18 months

  • Demonstrates turning palms towards the ceiling when playing
  • Able to imitate and scribble with fisted grasp on crayon
  • Able to stack between 2 and 5 blocks
  • Removes socks
  • Grasps small items between tips of thumb and index finger
  • Isolates index finger for pointing

18-24 months

  • Able to play with shape sorters, puzzles, scribble, and turn pages of book
  • Imitates vertical then horizontal strokes
  • Holds and drinks from a cup with minimal spilling

2-3 years

  • Snips with scissors
  • Imitates drawing a cross
  • Matches circle, triangle or square
  • Inserts pegs into a round hole and can screw and unscrew lids
  • Unzips zippers and unbuttons large buttons

3-4 years

  • Able to copy a circle at 3 years
  • Able to thread a medium sized bead at 3 years old
  • Colors mostly within the lines, able to cut out a circle
  • Independently dresses self, may need help with fasteners
  • Begins to show hand preference (may start as early as 2-2.5 years)

5-6 years

  • Able to cut out a square
  • Draws a person with 6 or more parts
  • Can copy a triangle and write alphabet and name
  • Independent with all dressing, including shoe tying

Make an Appointment

If you have concerns about your child’s play skills, please talk to your pediatrician and call to schedule an appointment with an occupational therapist for an occupational therapy evaluation. Call 1.800.KIDS.DOC (1.800.543.7362) to schedule an appointment at Lurie Children’s.