Gross Motor and Fine Motor Skills From Birth to Age Four

There are many typical developmental milestones that the health baby passes through, from the first month until aged four years. In addition to key language and social signs of development, infants will proceed from very basic to advanced gross and fine motor skills during this time period.

Development of Gross Motor Skills – Birth to Age Four

While during the first month following birth, the newborn will learn to raise the head slightly and make basic crawling movements, by the time children reach four years, they are usually able to enjoy hopping and skipping around. Most four-year-olds are also able to alternate their feet when they are walking downstairs.

In Early Childhood Studies: An Holistic Introduction, Woods et al. (1998) highlight key gross motor skills developed from the second month to age three, to include the following:

  • two months: holds head in middle
  • four months: sits well, when propped
  • six months: rolls from back to front, sits well, puts feet in mouth
  • nine months: creeps, pulls to feet, likes to stand
  • 12 months: walks with hands held or alone, pivots when sitting, co-operates with dressing
  • 18 months: runs, throws toys from standing position without falling
  • two years: walks up and down steps without help
  • three years: pedals tricycle, begins to alternate feet when going upstairs

Development of Fine Motor Skills – Birth to Age Four

In addition to developing gross motor skills, the infant also develops many fine motor skills, which are those which show that he or she is able to use the small muscles of the hands. While the average one-month-old baby is learning to tightly grip on to things, most four-year-olds are able to button up clothes and catch a ball.

Further key fine motor skills, as identified by Woods et al. (1998), include as follows:

  • two months: no longer clenches fist tightly, follows objects past mid-line
  • four month: grasps with two hands, touches cube placed on table
  • six months: reaches with either hand, transfers items
  • nine months: uses pincer grasp
  • 12 months: lets go of toys
  • 18 months: turns two/three pages at a time, fills spoon and feeds
  • two years: turns pages one at a time, removes shoes
  • three years: partial undressing, dries hands if reminded

As highlighted above, children develop many different gross and fine motor skills, particularly between the ages of one month and four years. While it is important to add that some children will develop such skills earlier on or slightly later, these are the average ages of development.

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