Hand and finger skills include your child's ability to grab, pick up and pass objects, point, draw, write, get dressed and use cutlery. Health professionals refer to these as fine motor skills. 
The development of these skills also requires good vision



What should my child be doing?

On average children develop fine motor skills at the following ages: 

  • 4 months can reach out for toys
  • 6 months can grab toys using the whole palm of their hand
  • 7 months can pass toys from one hand to the other
  • 10 months can pick objects up using thumb and first finger (pincer grip)
  • 18 months can make marks with a crayon
  • 18 months to 4 years can build towers with blocks (tower of 3 around 18 months, to more than 6 after 2 years)
  • 2 to 5 years can copy and draw more complicated shapes (start with lines, circles, cross, then square and triangle)

Your child may take slightly more or less time to learn these skills. Children develop at different rates and the above is an average. Try not to compare your child to anyone elses.

How can I help my child?

Provide your child with a range of age appropriate toys such as blocks, crayons, books and puzzles. Encourage your child to reach for toys, hold them, pass them from hand to hand and play with them.

Some ideas:

  • encourage them to reach for toys
  • try toys that are fun to grab, shake, squeeze, poke and bash 
  • explore touch and feel books
  • encourage them place items e.g. soft toys into a box or bag and take them out again
  • offer finger food at meal times
  • teach your baby some nursery rhymes with actions e.g. wind the bobbin up
  • build towers, stack blocks, use shape sorters
  • playdough
  • drawing, painting and messy play
  • thread large beads or pasta onto string
  • teach them to use cutlery
  • support them to dress themselves doing their own buttons, zips and velcro
When should I worry?

Children should not become obviously right or left handed until they are older than 18 months.

Speak to your GP or Health Visitor if your child: 

  • Is under 18 months old and is not using both hands equally
  • Your baby seems unable to see properly and follow objects with their eyes by 3 months
  • Cannot reach for objects by 6 months
  • Cannot pass toys from one hand to another by 8 months
  • Cannot use a pincer grip (first finger and thumb) to pick up small objects by 12 months
Where can I get some help?

If you are worried about your child’s progress please speak to your Health Visitor or GP.

The sooner you talk to someone, the sooner you can get help for you and your child. 

This guidance has been reviewed and adapted by healthcare professionals across West Yorkshire with consent from the Hampshire development groups.