Fine Motor Milestones

Learning to Communicate

baby reading book

Linda Farwell

A major milestone of fine motor development is the ability to hold a crayon. "A scribble a day brings a writer your way," says occupational therapist Jennifer Rosinia, PhD, instructor at Erikson Institute, in Chicago. This is because scribbling is the precursor to writing actual letters. This motor babbling, as Rosinia calls it, begins at 15 to 18 months, when toddlers will scratch lines across sheet after sheet of paper. By age 3, many children have mastered both the straight and curved lines necessary to write the alphabet.

Fine motor skills also allow you to play games with your baby. This, too, lays the groundwork for communication. "That back-and-forth play of rolling a ball is the beginning of a conversation," Rosinia says.

So if your scrapbook carefully documents the date of your baby's first step or first word, consider adding some other memorable milestones, such as the first time he put together a puzzle or built a tower. After all, while walking and running are the skills that are going to wear you out as a parent, fine motor skills are the ones that will save your sanity. Know that one day, your child will sit quietly, trying to pop that raisin right into his mouth, or he'll spend hours with a coloring book, and you might finally find the time to finish that cup of coffee.

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