As soon as a baby can grasp a pencil and wave his hands around -- by about 6 months -- he has the ability to make marks. But there's a big difference between a random squiggle on the kitchen wall and a concerted effort to scribble. In order for your future scribe to truly scribble and draw, several developmental issues must come into play simultaneously.
First, he needs the mutual dexterity to grasp a crayon or maker. Second, he needs the hand-eye coordination to put pen to paper. Fortunately, there are lots of activities in a baby's regular routine that help shape these skills. All the manipulating of objects that your baby does, including picking up playthings or putting food in his mouth, prepares his muscles for scribbling, says Nancy Balaban, a professor at Bank Street Graduate School of Education in New York City. And, finally, babies need to understand cause and effect to appreciate the fact that when they manipulate a marker in a certain way, they get a squiggle. Most kids get this concept at about 6 or 7 months of age. Once a baby understands peekaboo, he begins to understand cause and effect, says Linda Acredelo, PhD, coauthor of Baby Minds: Brain-Building Games Your Baby Will Love (Bantam). But even though your child acquires these skills in babyhood, the milestones won't dovetail until 18 months to 2 years.