Motor skills – Without it, one just cannot get around!

Motor skills primarily deal with movement skills that a baby achieves as he/she develops, and milestones refer to the stages of development. Together this term is frequently used to give information about the movement development of a baby.

Motor Skills Milestones 

It might seem interesting to many of you that speaking too is a motor skill that requires you to move your mouth and lips accordingly. This skill is called the Oromotor skill. But in this blog, we shall focus more on gross and fine motor skills.

What are Fine Motor & Gross Motor Skills?

Our body movements can be large or small. Based on this, motor skills or milestones are divided into gross motor and fine motor skills. Gross motor means the large movement skills like rolling, sitting, walking, etc. which require large body muscles, and fine motor skills refer to the small movements of the hand and wrist like grasping and manipulation.

Stages of Motor Skills Development: Track Your Child’s Progress

A baby will start moving while in the womb itself. These are generalised movements which we call quickening movements. The stages of motor development start from the time of birth and last till the child is 6 yrs old. A child develops gross motor and fine motor skills simultaneously. One important point you have to keep in mind is that each child develops motor skills at a different pace, and some kids may even miss certain motor milestones. It is completely normal for some children to show these deviations as long as they cover and achieve the most important milestones without much delay.

Below is a developmental age chart with the appropriate gross and fine motor milestones.

child motor skills development chart

It is normal for a deviation of plus or minus 3 months from the standard age specificities mentioned above.

What Happens if a Child Doesn’t Develop Motor Skills?

Children who fail to develop motor skills will be unable to perform independent motor skills, and they may also have

  • Inability to move around
  • Inability to manipulate objects
  • Inability to participate in family and social events
  • Inability to play with peers

A child who fails to develop age-appropriate motor skills is called a motor-delayed child. The reasons for this are multiple – brain injuries, inadequate exposure, and poor muscle tone are a few of them.

Is Poor Fine Motor Skills a Disability?

A disability is caused by underlying structural or anatomical issues of the body called impairment. Poor fine motor skill is a disability if there is an underlying cause for it, like abnormal muscle tone, hand deformities, paralysis of the hand, etc. Sensory processing disorders can also lead to poor motor skills like difficulty holding a pen or pencil, and trouble ascending and descending the stairs.

How Do You Improve Poor Motor Skills?

If a child exhibits motor developmental delay/ poor motor skills, do not wait for improvement to happen but visit a paediatrician to rule out any underlying conditions. Physiotherapy or occupational therapy can help the child. Therapy will mainly involve strengthening of weak muscles and include a variety of techniques to improve core stability and achieve milestonesostinger

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

1. What toys help with fine motor skills?

There are age-appropriate toys that you can use to improve fine motor skills. Play dough, threading beads, lego, wooden puzzles, and sliceable cut fruits and vegetables are some that you can think of for your child.

2. What are the examples of motor skills?

Motor skills include fine and gross motor skills. Examples of fine motor are transferring objects from one hand to the other, grasping objects, scribbling and the like. Examples of gross motor are head holding, sitting, standing and the like.

3. At what age are motor skills developed?

Babies start developing motor skills as young as a newborn. But almost all motor skills should be fully developed by the time your child is in elementary school.

4. How can you tell a child has problems with gross motor skills?

Standardized development scales are used to check if a child is experiencing any delay in their gross motor skills. Apart from this, a child’s muscle strength, muscle tone, and movement quality can all give us an idea about the child’s motor skills.


Written by,

Angela Grace Varghese MPT (Paediatrics)