Building fine motor skills
Does your baby seem to reach for things lately? Does he focus on something and try to grab it? These are examples of fine motor skills, which are key in learning to eat solid foods.
Babies develop from the torso outward, meaning they’ll gain control over their arms and legs before their fingers and toes. And they develop from top to bottom, so they’ll gain head and neck control before getting control of their arms and legs.
Your baby’s physical growth also involves large and small motor development. Large motor development refers to big muscles such as the leg muscles. Crawling, jumping and throwing are all large motor skills. Small motor development refers to small muscle groups, such as those in the fingers, toes, lips and tongue. Picking up and grasping small objects and licking the lips are examples of fine motor skills.
“Hey, what’s that?”
As your baby develops fine motor skills, he’ll have a newfound interest in the world around him. He’ll not only be able to see objects better but also reach out and try to get them.
This new adventure is fun and exciting, and the new skills he’s learning will help him when he starts to eat solid foods. Want to know what he’s up to? Look for these actions:
Reach out: If your baby sees something that interests him, he may reach for it. His eyes can focus on what he wants, and he will soon be able to control his arms and hands to reach for it.
Hold on: When your baby gets what he’s reaching for, he’ll wrap his fingers around it and try to grasp it. He may drop it the first few times, but he’ll keep trying until he can finally hold on to it.
Touch and feel: As your baby gets older and can hold an object in his hand, he’ll use his fingers to feel it, noticing any bumps, rough spots, smoothness or other textures. When he starts eating solids, he’ll do this with his food too.
Work together: Does your baby try to put everything into his mouth? If so he’s practicing his eye-hand coordination, using his eyes to focus, his little finger muscles to grasp and his arms to move things to his mouth. This skill will be helpful when he tries to feed himself.
All babies develop at different rates, but it can happen fast, so keep watching your little one for these
skills. He’ll amaze you with all the things—both big and small—he learns this first year.
To learn more, explore articles and tools on your baby’s growth & development.