Encouraging fine motor development - Sunnybrook Neonatal Follow-Up Clinic
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Tips for parents of an 18-month-old

Encouraging fine motor development

The following organizations have great tips and reliable information about child development:

Strategies:

To promote fine motor development, have your child use his or her hands during:

  • Everyday Activities:
    • Using a spoon or a fork to feed himself or herself
    • Drink with an open cup
    • Helping to get dressed and undressed
    • Pull on socks
    • Pull up large zippers
    • Fasten and unfasten Velcro straps
    • Turn door knobs
    • Open containers
    • Pick up small objects from the floor
  • Indoor and Outdoor Play:
    • Build towers with blocks or Lego
    • Turn pages of a book
    • Play with puzzles that match shapes to spaces on a board (shapes can also be things like animals or trucks)
    • Colour with sidewalk chalk
    • Pull and push objects
    • Carry light and heavy objects
    • Play with a ball: roll, throw, catch
    • Use Play-Doh to make snakes, balls, “pancakes,” or “pizza”!
    • Scribble with crayons:
      • Use crayon stubs (1-2 inches in length) to promote a 3-finger grasp
      • Have fun taking turns with your child by drawing a line and having your child copy you (try straight lines first, and in time, circles and other shapes)

Encourage your child to use both hands. Have your child use both hands for everyday activities and play. For example: when your child is self-feeding, have him or her use one hand to hold the spoon and the other hand to hold the bowl. Another example: when colouring, have your child hold the crayon with one hand and the paper with the other hand. After 24 months of corrected age, you will begin to see your child use one hand more than the other.

Call the clinic if: Your child is under 2 years corrected age and seems to only use one hand.