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Fine Motor Skills and Gross Motor Skills: What's The Difference?

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Toddlers, Babies, Child Development , Tags: child development, fine motor skills, gross motor skills

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ToucanLearn activities are designed to promote and assist with the development of fine and gross motor skills, as well as other skills too, but do you know what fine and gross motor skills are?  Here's a simple outline of what they are and how they develop.

What is a Motor Skill?
This is an action that involves movement of muscle in our body: walking, writing, clapping, painting.  Any movement at all.

What are Gross Motor Skills?
These are the larger movements involving limbs such as arms and legs plus feet.  Or, indeed, using the whole body.  Examples include crawling, kicking, running, jumping.

What are Fine Motor Skills?
These are finer movements that we use, specifically the fingers and thumbs, and toes, to do smaller and more specialised actions such as picking things up or wriggling toes.

How do they develop?
Both gross and fine motor skills tend to develop in tandem as so many activities rely on both gross and fine motor skills.

At 3 months: a baby will wave their arms around across their chest and will then play with their fingers.  This practices both gross and fine motor skills.

At 18 months: a toddler will use gross motor skills to reach for a toy or puzzle and to sit up and play with it and fine motor skills to do the puzzle or post the shapes into the box.

Gross and fine motor skills Milestones:

At one month a baby can:

  1. Move a leg when a foot is tickled
  2. Grasp a finger when it is held out
  3. Move head from side to side when lying on their front

At three months a baby can:

  1. Support upper body with their arms when lying on their front
  2. Bear weight on legs when supported
  3. Reach for and bat a mobile or toy hanging above their head
  4. Grasp and shake small objects
  5. Follow a moving object with their eyes

At six month a baby can:

  1. Hold head steady in a supported position
  2. Move objects from one hand to the other
  3. Sit with a little support
  4. Roll over from tummy to back

At twelve months a baby can:

  1. Crawl forward (or back or side depending on their own special technique!)
  2. Pull up to a standing position
  3. Cruise round furniture (walk holding on)
  4. Pick up things with thumbs and index finger

Of course, all this can vary from child to child and some may be learn more quickly than others while others catch up later, so don't be worried if your child is not reaching these milestones precisely when they should.  If you have any doubt or fears about gross or motor skills, simply go to the doctor or health visitor for advice.


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Hi! I'm Tikal the Toucan, the mascot for ToucanLearn. Follow my blog to find out interesting things relating to babies, toddlers and preschool children!

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