Building Fine Motor Skills with your Baby

We hear that your baby needs tummy time to build core strength, but have you ever heard about helping your baby build his fine motor skills? Honestly, I never did. But, helping your baby hone those hand and finger muscles is crucial for your baby’s development.

What is the purpose behind building fine motor skills? It’s so your baby will be able to use hands to their fullest potential, and also that your child will have awesome pincer skills to be able to write. Isn’t that something: you can teach your baby how to write! That sounds pretty weird, but give me a moment to explain.

Before you can write, you need to build up fine motor skills. In order to build up fine motor skills, you need to do a lot of practicing. And this is where doing certain activities from birth can help make it all possible.

So, essentially, this post is really about preparing your child to eventually learn to write. What that looks like is simply to help your baby build his fine motor skills. Here are some baby appropriate activities to strengthen those hand muscles!



Squishing and pointing. Take aloe vera or wet bath beads, put them in a bag, tape it shut, and hand it to your baby. Simply have her squeeze the bags. The aloe filling will be interesting to touch and that squishing will help to strengthen hand muscles.

You can take it a step further. Place the bag on a table or solid top. Show your baby how to draw certain shapes and lines. Then, let the baby try to do the same. This will help build finger strength.

You can also make paint bags and have your little artist in training produce a piece of art. Put a piece of paper in a sealable baggie and squirt in a few blobs of paint. Tape the bag up and let your baby move the paint around the paper. Then take it out to dry. And you can give these little practice pieces as presents!

Grasping and stacking. Have plenty of rattles and soft toys available for your baby to grasp. Put a favorite toy a few inches out of reach from your baby to intice him to reach out and grasp it.

Make your own shape sorter out of an upcycled container. Make one with just one hole and let your baby try to fit diferent objects in it, such as clothespins and large pompoms. I discuss how to make one here (as well as other play ideas for your baby and you).

Encourage your baby to stack items. These can be blocks, cereal boxes, pots and pans, or even books! My son loved stacking and making piles of books, transferring one book to another pile.

My son on his first birthday. Lifting and stacking kitchen items is a great way to help build hand and finger strength…it’s an especially handy play when you are cooking in the kitchen!

Crinkling and sticking. My son loved the sound and feel of crinkly material inside toys. Then, I discovered that paper is a great tool. We often discourage our children from messing with paper. If you have any papers you are going to shred, then let your baby go to town with them! Crumbling papers is a wonderful way to build hand muscles.

Ever get stuck to a sticker? It takes a lot of effort from your fingers to “unglue” yourself from it. Give your baby some large stickers to unpeel. Or, bust out with some cheap contact paper (shelf liner is another word for it). Cut a portion off and unpeel it. Watch your child explore the stickness. You can add another depth to this activity by offering large sheets of used paper, tissue paper, pompoms, etc. for you baby to try to stick onto the sticky paper.

Threading. This fine motor skill activity will require you to be very attentive while your baby does it. Take thick ribbon or a pipe cleaner and some beads. Show your baby how to thread the beads through the ribbon or pipe cleaner. Even having your baby touch and move the beads on a string or stick is good for his pincer skills.

Theo playing with rock
My son grasping a rock with his fingers. Simple, cost efficient, fine motor skill play!

By engaging in such simple actions, your child’s ability to grasp finer things will be further developed.

What kind of things have you done with your baby to help build his or her pincer skills?

Leave a Reply