Fine motor development refers to baby’s ability to use the smaller muscles in his hands and feet. Fine motor skills grow simultaneously with gross motor development. For example, while he learns how to use the bigger arm muscles to reach for a favorite toy, he is also learns how to use the smaller hand muscles to grasp it. You may notice that while he pumps his legs (large muscle group) he is also spreading his toes (small muscle group).
Once babies become aware of their hands and feet, they consider them toys in and of themselves. Eventually, he learns how to grasp his feet with his hands and guide them to his mouth. My mother delighted in teaching our child how to do this. Look what I can do, Mommy! While I awarded points for hand-eye coordination….
Now may be a great time to introduce your baby to toys that make noise like rattles, or soft books with noise-makers inside the pages. I like Melissa and Doug’s Bird House Shape Sorter for a number of reasons. Since muscle control is a little shaky at first, the soft birds won’t hurt baby when he moves them toward his mouth. Each unique bird makes a different noise – rattle, jingle, squeak or crinkle. Your baby learns the basics of sorting as he develops sound and color preferences for himself. As he grows, he further can use this toy to sharpen his shape sorting as he puts each bird into its correspondingly shaped opening in the bird house. Educational at multiple developmental stages – can’t beat it!
Dr. Seuss’s Circus McGurkus 1, 2, 3! cloth book is another good multi-developmental stage toy. A rattle and a squeaker for baby to shake and squeeze are hidden in the cloth pages. Other pages display enticing flaps for him to lift. Early reading and number skills can also be learned from this colorful book as your baby begins his journey toward reading.
Engaging your baby in activities that exercise his fine motor muscles fits nicely with the more energetic gross motor development activities in which you involve him. Your baby’s day will be very busy as well as your own but it’s worth it!
Tags: baby toys, fine motor development, fine motor skills, play