5 Easy Ways to Help Your Little One Develop Their Fine Motor Skills

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If your baby is at the adorable yet worrisome stage of grabbing everything in sight and immediately shoving it into their mouth, or if your toddler is constantly banging their toys while causing irrevocable damage to your eardrums, fear not. This is actually a win for your little one and the development of their fine motor skills, albeit a loss for our collective sanity.

Fine motor skills involve the movement of your child’s upper extremities, such as their hands, wrists, and fingers. It’s vital for our kids to learn how to use these tiny muscles in order for them to eventually perform everyday tasks like tying their shoes and writing their names. We know there’s an immense amount of pressure surrounding developmental milestones, and thinking about them all can be overwhelming. But the good news is that helping our littles expand their fine motor development can be incorporated into simple, everyday tasks at any age. Here are five easy ways to encourage fine motor skills:

 

1. Use open-ended toys with moving pieces

Playing is one of the best ways to advance a child’s developmental skills. And, let’s be honest: We’re all busy moms in need of toys that make learning effortless for our kids. We have so much on our plates already. Creating intricate and overcomplicated activities for our kids from scratch doesn’t fit within our packed schedules.

Open-ended toys are a natural way to promote learning, and Melissa & Doug is our first choice when it comes to skill-building play. Their wide selection of high-quality and classic wooden toys inspires your LO to be an active participant in playtime rather than be passively entertained by toys with bright lights and screens. Melissa & Doug offers countless products that help strengthen the coordination between kids’ brains and muscles. And for your convenience, we’ve rounded up these great fine motor skill toys with their corresponding age group.

Melissa & Doug

Wooden Surprise Gift Box

Ages 6+ months

This wooden box is cloth-wrapped with a peek-a-boo mirror in the bottom and presents to "wrap" and "unwrap." It's a fun way for infants and toddlers to discover textures and sounds.

Use code EVERYMOM20 to get 20% off any Melissa & Doug product!

Melissa & Doug

GO Tots Barnyard Tumble

Ages 1+ years

With four double-sided wooden GO Tots round disks, kiddos can practice rolling, stacking, and grasping while making them tumble and whirl in the double-sided barn.

Use code EVERYMOM20 to get 20% off any Melissa & Doug product!

Melissa & Doug

Rollables Wooden Ocean Slide

Ages 1+ years

Inspire your toddler's imagination with this wooden slide tower and three rollables. Rollables are great for encouraging sensory, fine motor, and problem-solving skills.

Use code EVERYMOM20 to get 20% off any Melissa & Doug product!

Melissa & Doug

Deluxe Pounding Bench Toddler Toy

Ages 2+ years

Pounding toys are classic yet extremely effective at promoting eye-hand coordination, cause and effect, and of course, fine motor skills. This pounding bench features non-removable pegs and a sturdy, durable mallet.

Use code EVERYMOM20 to get 20% off any Melissa & Doug product!

Melissa & Doug

Wooden Latches Board

Ages 3+ years

At home and on the go, latch boards are ideal for getting littles to use all those tiny little muscles in their hands. This board also helps kiddos learn colors, numbers, animals, and more.

Use code EVERYMOM20 to get 20% off any Melissa & Doug product!

 

2. Channel their inner artist

Coloring, drawing, writing—encourage anything that allows them to practice gripping writing utensils in their hands. What starts out as a full-fist grip will eventually turn into a more precise pencil hold. As their parents, anything they create will have us beaming with pride. Our fridges definitely need more papers filled with scribbles and stick figures.

Melissa & Doug

Water WOW! Animals

Ages 3+ years

No mess water painting is the best way to encourage artistic skills without the hassle of clean up. This activity pad is reusable and travel friendly with four different animal-themed boards.

Use code EVERYMOM20 to get 20% off any Melissa & Doug product!

3. Introduce silverware from a young age

We get it. The temptation to airplane a tiny spoon into a tiny mouth while making the corresponding “whoosh!” noise is too strong. But we urge you to put the spoon down and hand over the reins to your baby. The goal here is to allow them to explore and make a mess—just cringe through it. Yes, 99% of their food will be literally anywhere except the inside of their mouth. But they will have so much fun figuring out how to coordinate their hand movements, which is the point.

 

baby eating

Source: Toa Heftiba | Unsplash

 

4. Let them practice getting dressed

This tip shouldn’t be tried when you only have five minutes to haul everyone out the door. But be sure to let your toddler try dressing themselves when you have more time. Pulling a shirt over their head, practicing shoe-lace tying, and buttoning their pants are excellent ways to hone their fine-motor skills while also practicing independence.

 

5. Encourage helping with dinnertime

Kids can easily help you prepare a meal by pouring water in pots, opening and closing containers, or cutting veggies with child-safe utensils. Not only does including them allow them to exercise their fine-motor development, but it also makes them feel like an important part of dinnertime and become excited to eat the meal they helped prepare.

Amazon

Wooden Kids Kitchen Knife Set

These kid-safe knives are specially designed for toddlers. They can easily cut various vegetables, fruits, cheese, and other foods. Perfect for children to learn to cut.

 

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This post was in partnership with Melissa & Doug, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everymom editorial board. We only recommend products we genuinely love.