Self-help/ADL Skills by Age

All children develop at their own pace, however we've compiled a list of some general guidelines to look for your child's self-care skills*.

  • ​​At 5 1/2 months a child is able to independently hold bottle

  • ​Grasps small items with thumb against side of pointed index finger
  • Finger feeds self

  • Holds a spoon

  • ​Removes socks
  • Notifies parent that diapers are soiled
  • "Cooperates" with dressing
  • Engages in bath time by helping to wash a few body parts

  • ​Holds and drinks from a cup with minimal spilling
  • Able to load spoon and bring to mouth with moderate spilling
  • Gives up bottle

  • ​Unzips zippers and unbuttons large buttons
  • Requires assistance to manage pullover clothing
  • Able to take off pants, coat, socks and shoes without fasteners.
  • Has few accidents during the day and can indicate when they need to go to the bathroom
  • Able to feed self with little to no spilling

  • ​Independently dresses self, may need help with fasteners
  • Able to bathe self with the exception of washing own hair
  • Independent with toilet control and notification

  • ​Independent with all dressing,  including shoe tying
  • Supervision for all grooming and bathing cares to ensure safety and quality of performance
  • Independent with all toileting care

  • ​Independent with all dressing tasks including the selections of appropriate clothing

Make an Appointment

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

*Information adapted from:

  • ​Beery, Keith E, PhD., Beery, Natasha A, MA. Beery VMI. Minneapolis, MN: NCS Pearson.
  • Erhardt, R.P (1982). Erhardt Developmental Prehension Assessment. Laurel, MD: Ramsco Publishing Co
  • Exner, C.E. (2001). Development of hand skills. In J. Case-Smith (Ed.), Occupational therapy for children(4th ed., pp. 289-328). St. Louis, MO: Mosby.
  • Mulligan, S. (2003). Occupational therapy evaluation for children: A pocket guide. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
  • Greenspan, S. (1999). Building Healthy Minds. New York, NY: Da Capo Press. ​