In his or her first five years, your child would undergo and experience 4 main areas of development. These are motor (physical), cognitive, communication and language, and social and emotional.
Motor skills refer to any muscle movement that is done with the intent to perform a specific act. They enable children to become more independent, making it an important part of childhood development.
Fine motor skill development is especially crucial to help babies perform self-care tasks (eating, brushing, writing, etc.) without a parent’s assistance. It involves small movements in the hands, wrists, fingers, feet, toes, lips, and tongue.
To get you started, here’s how you can help your baby develop fine motor skills.
7 Ways to Encourage Fine Motor Skill Development in Babies
1. Purchase Dangling Toys
During the first three months, your baby would be able to turn his or her head towards sounds. In addition, he or she can stare at bright objects and follow their movements with his or her eyes.
To aid in your baby’s fine motor skill development, you can invest in dangling toys. Hang it just above your infant’s crib and encourage him or her to play with the toys. This is a great practice for hand-eye coordination.
2. Play Nursery Rhymes
The first 4 to 8 months is crucial in the development of your baby’s fine motor skills. During this period, your little one would start to consciously use hand movements. He or she would grab objects within reach even without your help. This is also a great time to support their communications skills.
You can encourage both these skills by playing tactile nursery rhymes such as the “Incy Wincey Spider,” “This Little Piggy,” and “The Barramundi Song.” Clap their hands to the beat to help improve hand coordination.
3. Solve Puzzles Together
Aside from nursery rhymes, you can also urge your child to play with puzzles. Picking up and moving these pieces into place would ultimately help develop his or her pincer grasp.
At first, playing puzzle games with your child might be frustrating to any parent. They can be impatient and give up easily, or sometimes they even put puzzle pieces in their mouth. However, if you stick with this activity, the benefits are worth it.
It’s best to start with easy puzzles then work your way up to harder ones to help your baby develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
4. Introduce Drawing
This is another great way to develop your child’s fine motor skills.
Introduce drawing (or painting) to your little one early on so by the time they turn 18 months old, they can grasp art materials in their hand and scribble. And by 3 years old, they already had a refined pencil grasp.
Overall, exposure to art not only helps in your child’s fine motor skill development but also creativity and imagination too.
5. Build a Tower of Blocks
Stacking, connecting, and building things together would encourage your baby in creative and cognitive play.
You can buy large Duplo bricks for a child under 3 years old as they are easier to play with and less likely to be swallowed. For children 3 years old and above, you can give them traditional Legos.
By allowing your little one to play with these toys, you are helping them build stronger muscles in their hands and improve coordination. You’ll also be surprised that building blocks lead to a sense of accomplishment and an improved ability to solve puzzles on your child’s part.
6. Try Cutting with Scissors
If your child is above 3 years old, you can try giving him or her scissors to further strengthen fine motor skills as well as concentration.
Draw shapes on a piece of paper that your child can cut around. You can even give them play dough which they can shape or cut accordingly. Just make sure you use age-appropriate scissors to prevent accidents.
7. Limit Screen Time
Nowadays, screen time is part of modern parenting. A lot of parents leave their child with devices, hoping to help their child’s brain develop. Unfortunately, screen time has detrimental effects on young developing minds. Extended exposure to electronic devices can actually delay cognitive development in kids.
With that being said, letting your child play with devices can still have a positive impact when done right.
So instead of no screen time, you can allow limited screen time once your child is over 2 years old. You can set a maximum hour of playing with devices every day. This would help develop coordination, hone reaction time, and even sharpen language skills.
For young children, fine motor skill development is crucial for hand, fingers, and thumb movement. These skills would ultimately allow a child to complete important essential tasks on their own. Keep these 7 ways in mind to encourage fine motor skill development at a young age.
LCS, a company in Australia who has used The Nurture Sleep Program. This program is designed to take babies from sleepless to slumber.
Nurture Parenting is recognised as Australia’s baby sleep expert. Headed by Karen Faulkner, a Baby and Toddler Sleep Consultant, the company offers The Nurture Sleep Program that helps babies and children on sleep training. This is a tried and tested approach that has already transformed the lives of families through its exclusive baby sleep methods that help an overtired baby self-settle and promote blissful sleep.