Fine Motor Skills and Your 1-Year-Old: What You Need to Know

If you have a child and have ever Googled something related to their growth or development, you may have seen a lot of “Is this normal?” type questions. Their physical development is one of those areas, and you may have asked either the internet or other moms, “At what age did your child do this?” or “My child isn’t doing this yet, is that normal?”

So, let’s talk about fine motor skills and your 1-year-old.


What Is The Difference Between Fine And Gross Motor Skills?

Fine motor skills are those skills that involve smaller muscles, such as the ones in the fingers. An example is your child picking up food with their fingers and feeding it to themselves. Comparatively, gross motor skills are ones that use the larger muscles, commonly involving the whole body. Examples of this include walking, squatting down to pick up something, and climbing stairs.


What Fine Motor Skills Should a 1-Year-Old Have?

A 1-year-old should be able to pick up small/tiny objects using their pointer finger and thumb. This is called the pincer grasp. An example is picking up individual peas or picking up smaller toys (under close supervision, as they may be a choking hazard).

Another fine motor skill for a 1-year-old is being able to point with one finger and use a single finger to probe. They should be able to point to where a toy is or use a finger to poke at Play-Doh.

It is important to note that children develop at their own pace, which may or may not mean that they are hitting these milestones. If you have any questions or concerns, please consult your pediatrician.


3 Simple Activities to Develop Fine Motor Skills

  • Self-Feeding
  • Beading
  • Exploring outdoors


  1. Feeding themselves

A very simple, albeit messy, fine motor skill activity for a child is self-feeding. Gripping the spoon, using their hands to pick up bites and feed themselves/the dog/the floor/you gives them a fun and functional way to develop their fine motor skills. As your 1-year-old grows, you will notice that they become more adept, and more food is going into their mouth.


  1. Beading

Beading is another great fine motor skill development activity for your 1-year old. To start, they may pick up the bead and hand it to you for you to string, but as they grow, they will start to transition to being able to thread the bead onto the string themselves.


  1. Exploring outdoors

Exploring outdoors is exceptional for children of all ages. As a fine motor activity for a 1-year-old, let them set the pace and stop to explore as much as they desire. It may be a bit of a challenge to stop them from putting everything in their mouths, but it is worth it. As they stop and explore, they’ll utilize their fine motor skills, and the outing itself is great for gross motor development, too.


Main Takeaway

Fine motor skill development for 1-year-olds is about exploration and growth. At first, they may only be able to pick up slightly larger objects, but over time these will get smaller, and your child will have an easier time with it. Children are naturally curious, so the more you can encourage their exploration, even when it’s messy, the better!