Fine Motor Milestones (Grasping and Hand Skills)

Grasp development

The following are typical grasp and in-hand manipulation milestones. Keep in mind that some children will reach them sooner and some will reach them later and skill be functional and generally typical. Any notable discrepancies should be discussed with your pediatrician.

0-2 months

  • No voluntary hand use, random and uncontrolled arm movements
  • Uses whole arm to swing toward a target
  • Hands fisted
  • Visual regard for objects

3-6 months

  • Watching objects
  • Contacting objects with hands if within 1 inch
  • Hands come together at the middle of the body
  • Squeezes objects with a fist

7-9 months

  • Raking objects with hands
  • Voluntary release of objects, can put objects in a container
  • Beginning pincer grasp
  • Holds small items (block) with fingers and thumb, no palm

10-12 months

  • Pincer grasp refined
  • Can use a tripod (3-finger) grasp
  • Can finger feed foods
  • Holds crayon with a palmar grasp (fisted)
  • Transfers objects between hands (beginning of crossing midline)
  • Begins to show a preferred hand
  • Can turn pages of a book, a few pages at a time

13-18 months

  • Ability to hold small flat objects (cookies, crackers, etc)
  • Can clap hands and bang objects together (start of bilateral coordination)
  • Can build a tower 2 blocks high
  • Finger-to-palm translation, can move a small object (Cheerio) from fingers down to palm without help from other hand
  • Uses both hands for different functions (one hand holds toy, while other hands presses buttons on toy)

18 months - 2 years

  • Begins scribbling with crayon with a fisted grasp (palmar-supinate grasp)
  • Builds a tower 3-4 blocks high
  • Disc, cylinder and and sphere grasp - continued to be refined until 3 years

2 years

  • Palm to finger translation - bringing a small object from the palm to the fingers without help from other hand
  • Turns doorknobs
  • Can string large beads
  • Can twist lids on and off
  • Simple rotation - turning an object with finger pads 90 degrees or less, such as twisting off a small bottle cap with fingers

3 years - 5 years

  • Can do lacing activities
  • Can string ½ inch beads
  • Power grasps - using tools such as a knife for cutting soft food
  • Dynamic tripod grasp - Using thumb, index and middle finger on a writing tool and moving fingers instead of whole arm movements
  • Lateral grasp - turning a key

6-7 years

  • Complex rotation - rotation of an object 360 degrees, such as turning a pencil around in your hand to use the eraser
  • In-hand manipulation with stabilization - holding something on the pinky side of your hand while using your thumb, index and middle fingers for manipulation, such as holding pennies with your pinky and ring finger and picking up and placing other pennies in a container with your thumb/index/middle fingers


Hook grasp

  • Bending the four fingers forward and resting item across the inside of the fingers
    Strength of grasp must be maintained to carry objects, thumb may be overlap fingers for additional power
  • Example: carrying things with handle including sand pail, suitcase, bucket, etc.

Power grasp

  • Used to control tools
  • Item to be controlled is pointed towards the radial thumb
  • Example: cutting with a knife

Lateral pinch

  • Used to exert power on or with a small object
  • Thumb pressed to the side of the index finger
  • Example: turning a key

Two point pinch aka, pincer grasp

  • Bringing the pad of the thumb to the pad of the index finger only
  • Example: Picking up a small bead

Three-point pinch (aka three-jaw-chuck)

  • Bringing the pad of the thumb to the pad of the index finger and middle finger
  • Allows for stronger grip on object

Example: picking up small objects with tips of fingers such as Cheerios, beads, small blocks

  • Spherical grasp - hypothenar eminence lifts to assist the cupping of the hand for control of the object
  • observation of this grasp suggest the child’s ability to balance control of the intrinsic and extrinsic hand muscles
  • holding a small (4-5 inch) ball in the hand

Cylindrical grasp

  • Ability of the palm to form an arch to bring the fingers toward the thumb while the thumb is opposed
  • holding sphere shaped items such as a water bottle

Disc grasp

  • straightening the fingers while bending the knuckles
  • hold a disc shaped item in the hand, such as a lid

In-hand Manipulation

Finger-to-palm translation

  • Moving an object from the fingers down to the palm without the use of the other hand
  • Example: Moving a penny from the fingers down to the palm

Palm-to-finger translation

  • Moving an object from the palm up to the fingers without the use of the other hand
  • Example: Moving a penny from the palm up to the fingers


  • Moving an object on the fingertips surfaces to reposition the object
  • Example: Separating 2 pieces of paper using the fingertips

Simple rotation

  • Turning or rolling an object held by the fingertips 90 degrees or less
  • Example: Unscrewing a small bottle cap using fingertips

Complex rotation

  • Rotating an object 360 degrees using the fingertips
  • Example: Turning a pencil over to erase

In-hand Manipulation with stabilization

  • Objects are held in the pinky side of the hand while the thumb, index and middle fingers are manipulating another object
  • Example: Holding a penny in the pinky side of the hand while the thumb, index and middle fingers pick up other pennies


Skills: Fine Motor
Fine Motor Activities
In Hand Manipulation Milestones