How to Develop Fine Motor Skills in Toddlers: 11 Steps
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Toddlers love scribbling.

Toddlers are often so caught up in their gross motor skill development of toddling and climbing that we forget that they need fine motor skill development, too. Fine motor skills are those movement skills, such as scribbling and using a spoon, that require only small muscle groups. Since toddlers are also busy asserting their independence, usually loudly in the middle of the grocery store, give yourself a break from all that stress and focus on the fun aspects of fine motor skill development. Find the activities that your toddler truly enjoys and repeat those.


  1. 1
    Hand over the spoon. Let him try feeding himself, no matter how messy and frustrating it is.
  2. 2
    Serve small delicacies. Cheerios, Goldfish crackers and pieces of chopped fruit are great ways for your toddler to practice her pincer grasp.
  3. 3
    Get a helper. Let your toddler tear lettuce into smaller pieces for a salad, wipe down the counters or other small kitchen chores.
  4. 4
    Build a tower. Show your toddler how to stack soft blocks and then let him try it himself.
  5. 5
    Stack the rings. Let your toddler stack rings on a peg.
  6. 6
    String the beads. String wooden or plastic beads onto thick yarn or string.
  7. 7
    Visit the library. Board books are great for toddlers; they match their short attention spans, can withstand chewing and let little fingers turn the pages somewhat easily.
  8. 8
    Sing silly songs. Sing songs that encourage finger and hand movements, such as "Wheels on the Bus" and "Open, Shut Them."
  9. 9
    Provide paper and crayons. Let your toddler scribble as often as possible. Preferably not on the walls, though.
  10. 10
    Encourage finger painting. A lot of newspapers spread out on the floor can make this slightly less messy.
  11. 11
    Squeeze Play-Doh. Even older children have a hard time resisting Play-Doh.


  • If you're worried about how messy your toddler will get as he feeds himself, try to do the messier stuff right before bath time. Since they've yet to invent a bib that can keep up with a wily toddler, try taking his shirt off before feeding him. Or put a plastic drop cloth like they use at the hair salon around him. The messy years won't last forever.


  • Make sure to change into clothes that you're comfortable sitting on the floor in, as well as possibly getting stained with paint or food. You'll want all your focus to be on your toddler, not your favorite cashmere sweater.

EditThings You'll Need

  • Toddler spoon
  • Soft blocks
  • Stacking rings
  • Beads
  • String
  • Paper
  • Toddler crayons
  • Finger paint
  • Play-Doh
  • Food
  • Fun

Article Info

Categories: Education and Communications

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