Hand skills

Hand and finger skills include your child's ability to grasp, pick up and transfer objects, point, draw, write, get dressed and use cutlery.
The development of these skills also requires good vision, so these skills are considered together - please refer to the section on 'Concerns about your child's vision'.

There is a typical sequence of developing these skills, on average within the following age ranges: 

  • Newborn: reflective grasp of a finger/object with hands 
  • 2  months – briefly holds a toy in the hand if given to them
  • 2-4 months – brings hand together and touches fingers, when sitting reaches for toys, if has toy in the hand holing it and looking at it, waving it around and putting it in the mouth 
  • 4-6 months – grasps toys using palms of the hands, both hands at once, reaches for small objects using fingers, passes a small toy from hand to hand, plays with feet when laying on the back
  • 6-9 months – puts objects in the mouth, drops toys on purpose, starts to pick them up
  • 9-12 months – able to pick objects up with thumb and first finger (pincer grip), helps turn pages of a book, finger-feeds themselves 
  • 12-18 months – turns pages of a book, when given a crayon makes marks on paper, holds and drinks from a cup independently, builds a tower of 3 blocks 
  • 18months to 2 years – holds pencil using thumb and first two fingers, strings small items, up to about 4, drinks from a cup with no lid, feeds themselves bringing spoon to mouth, places 5 pegs on a pegboard, puts 4 rings on a stick 
  • 2-3 years – develops hand preference, strings large beads, turns a single page of a book at once, snips with scissors, imitates straight lines and circle, builds a tower of 6 blocks 
  • 3-4 years – builds a tower of 9 blocks, copies circle, imitates cross, uses non-dominant hand to help with stabilising objects, draws a person with body parts 
  • 4-5 years – can dress and undress themselves, copies cross, square, letters, cuts on a line with scissors, writes name, writes numbers 1-5 

Provide your child with a range of age appropriate toys (such as blocks, crayons, books, puzzles) which encourage your child to use their hands - to reach for toys, hold them, pass them from hand to hand and play and use them).

Loss of any of the hand skills already acquired is very concerning and you MUST seek help urgently. 

Not gaining new skills at all (arrest of development). 

Delay in gaining skills by certain age: 

  •  NOT reaching for objects beyond 6 months 
  • NOT transferring objects from one hand to another beyond 9 months 
  •   NOT using a pincer grip beyond 12 months 
  • NOT progressing through drawing different shapes at correct ages 
  •  NOT progressing when building from blocks 
  • Hand preference (right or left-handed) before the age of 18 months. 

If you have any concerns about your child's hand skills, speak with your health visitor or GP.

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