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SEND Support Service (SSS): A Guide to Fine Motor Skills (0 to 1 Year) - WNC

SEND Support Service (SSS): A Guide to Fine Motor Skills (0 to 1 Year) - WNC logo


Always give the baby time to think and respond. Remember to reward with praise. All activities are to be carried out with adult supervision only.

Encouraging Fine Motor Skills at 0 to 3 Months

The first stages of fine motor skills develop within the first few months as the baby becomes more aware of their hands. The baby will watch the movement of their own hands (opening and closing). They will engage in finger play - using their primitive reflexes.

As the baby starts to open their hands, the adult should encourage their hand reflex by touching the palm. The baby will start to grasp the finger.    

  • Grasping, mouthing, and holding: Adults should place small, bright, shiny, or noisy objects in the baby’s hand. 
  • Bringing hands to midline: Initially, the adult should use hand-over-hand support and guidance to encourage the baby to bring their hands together.

Suggested objects to help develop fine motor skills at 0 to 3 months:

  • A Koosh ball
  • A small hand-held light spinner
  • A small rattle ball
  • A soft squeaky toy
  • Bells (attach to the baby's wrist or place them in their hand)
  • Bubble wrap
  • Jelly cubes
  • Keys
  • Mini maracas
  • Pieces of a foil blanket
  • Pieces of sponge
  • Strings of beads
  • Textured materials (such as soft, shiny, rough, smooth and furry)

Encouraging Fine Motor Skills at 3 to 6 Months

When offered a toy or object, the baby will reach for it immediately and shake it deliberately to make a sound (often regarding it closely at the same time).

The baby will manipulate objects attentively, passing them frequently from hand to hand. They will reach for a toy with one hand and explore it with both hands. The baby mouths objects. 

  • Reaches and grasps: Adults should hold small toys or objects in the midline and at both sides.
  • Transferring hand-to-hand: Adults should use hand-over-hand (to guide the baby’s hand) and demonstrate the transferring of objects between hands. 

Suggested objects to help develop fine motor skills at 3 to 6 months:

  • Baby gym
  • Baubles
  • Bricks
  • Bright shiny objects
  • Bubbles
  • Dangle items (such as ribbons)
  • Hand and finger puppets
  • Light spinners or wands
  • Mirrors
  • Musical toys
  • Rattles and bells
  • Slinky
  • Small balls
  • Squeaky toys
  • Suction toys
  • Tinsel
  • Torches and flashing lights

Encouraging Fine Motor Skills at 6 to 9 Months

At this stage, the baby will begin to reach and grasp a moving object. They can follow an adult pointing toward an object or person before poking at small objects with their index finger. They will begin picking up small objects between finger and thumb with an inferior pincer grasp. 

The baby will begin to use both hands freely but may show a preference for one. They will start to hold toys (one in each hand) and bang them together to make a noise.  

  • Grips object with finger and thumb together
  • Bangs two objects together (claps)
  • One-handed reaching

Suggested objects to help develop fine motor skills at 6 to 9 months:

  • Bricks
  • Bubbles
  • Clapping games (such as 'Pat-a-Cake')
  • Cups (one-handled and two-handled)
  • Everyday objects
  • Keys
  • Mini maracas
  • Small ball
  • Small cymbals
  • Small rattle
  • Small world toys
  • Soft squeaky toy
  • Soft toys
  • Sponge
  • Spoons and angled spoons
  • Strings of beads

Encouraging Fine Motor Skills at 9 to12 Months

The baby will start picking up small objects with a neat pincer grip. They will begin to point and prod (with their index finger) to objects of interest. They will place one object on top of another before knocking them down.

The baby will start to shake toys deliberately to make a sound. They will also give toys to adults on request (sometimes spontaneously).

The baby will also start to play clapping games, attempt to use a spoon (with adult support), and begin to wave "bye-bye."

  • Points and prods with one finger
  • Neat pincer grip
  • Places one object on another

Suggested objects to help develop fine motor skills at 9 to 12 months:

  • Bath bubbles (poke and pop)
  • Beads
  • Bricks
  • Duplo
  • Easy inset puzzles with handles
  • Finger foods
  • Finger-paint
  • Finger-puppets
  • Keys
  • Magnetic blocks
  • Messy play
  • Pat mats
  • Picture-books
  • Play-Doh
  • Raisins and chocolate buttons
  • Rings and bangles
  • Sand
  • Small cubes
  • Soft ball
  • Sponges
  • Squishy toys


  • Brackley Area
  • Daventry Area
  • Northampton Area
  • Towcester Area
  • West Northamptonshire
  • Northamptonshire
Additional languages
Translation and/or Interpreting Available on Request
Age range
Suitable for ages from 0 to 12 months
Referral route
No Referral Needed
For people with
Suitable for Everyone
Eligibility criteria
Age Range - Early Years
Provider category
Universal Services - Suitable for Everyone


c/o The SEND Support Service (SSS), West Northamptonshire Council, One Angel Square, Angel Street
United Kingdom


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Last updated 31 May 2024