An intricate balance of fine and gross motor skills enables all of us – adults, children and babies – to be physically active and control our bodies. Fine motor skills are the result of developed small muscles: hand, palm and finger muscles as well as the muscles surrounding the mouths and eyes. Our fine motor skills determine how we carry out specific, controlled movements: writing, using a key to open a door, making a cup of tea and speaking are all actions we're able to perform because we have some fine motor skills . While we often take these mundane tasks for granted, the development of the skills these actions are dependent on is crucial for your baby’s development. An environment conducive to practice and repetitive exercise helps balance your baby’s maturing nervous system and the muscles to ensure that fine motor skills develop in sync with emotional and physical maturity. Natural motivation and curiosity along with appropriate play and exercise e nhance this process. An environment conducive to practice and repetitive exercise helps ensure that fine motor skills develop in sync with emotional and physical maturity
Your baby's fine motor skills develop gradually. During the first three months, the grasp reflex is dominant: at this stage babies curl their fingers and clench any object that is placed in their hand. By the end of the second year, in contrast, toddlers can feed themselves, and may even be able to draw a circle. Newborns and tiny babies moves their arms together with their hands, as if they are one. Over time, they gain control over their hands and arms, moving them separately, in fine, controlled motions. Finally, coordination brings all aspects of fine motor skills together, so that babies can reach out and fetch a specific object with purpose and intention. Think about it: the seemingly meaningless ability to bang two blocks together is in fact a precursor to much more complex actions – washing the dishes or playing the piano – activities that require each hand to perform different tasks simultaneously.
As your baby matures, the gradual transition from reflexive to voluntary movements takes tremendous effort. Your heart may go out to see your three-month old baby “struggle” to strike a toy dangling over his head, or at six months, try again and again to push the button on his activity center. You may wonder: what keeps him going? The answe r lies, in part, in the fact that babies are born with an innate desire to control their bodies – despite the obstacles,bumps and bruises along the way. This inborn urge continues and becomes even stronger via learning and discovering new things. Every milestone along the fine motor development continuum brings with it a new discovery. When your baby pushes a button and is rewarded with a pleasant sound, he can’t wait to do it again… and again. These activities develop fine motor skills, while offering positive feedback and boosting confidence and pleasure.
Give your baby plenty of opportunities to practice fine motor skills . Practice in the first two years has a significant impact. Insufficient practice may result in weak hand muscles, for instance, which will factor come the tim e for school work. And yet, bear in mind that babies develop at their own pace. Maintain a fine balance between ample exposure and experience on the one hand, and allowing your baby to experience at his own pace, on the other. Help your baby strengthen fine motor skills by providing her with a wide variety of activities involving objects and toys of various shapes, sizes, textures and weights, to encourage the use of as many muscle groups as possible. The larger the variety of activities, like pulling, pushing and rolling, the more exercise each muscle group receives. When it comes to the development of fine motor skills , watch out for age-relevant milestones: a two-month-old extends her hands to the front, but still does not reach midline. If you place a toy at midline, she may lose patience and miss out on valuable grasping practice that helps eye-hand coordination. Your nine-month-old infant may not know what to do with a shape-sorting toy placed in front of her. But if you take the lid off, encouraging her to play with the different shapes, she will grab them and put them in the box – exercising her fine motor skills .
Any advice and information provided in this website is given as suggestions only and should not be taken as a professional medical diagnosis or opinion. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent.