As a parent, it’s our job to support and encourage our baby’s growth. We want our children to learn as much as they can while also having fun.
Children at this age learn best through play. From tapping buttons on a toy to exploring a basket of knick-knacks, they are constantly learning by touching, feeling, seeing, and entertaining themselves.
It’s important to make activities educational, just as much as they are fun.
Fine Motor Skills in Infancy
Fine motor skills are important for a baby to develop. They involve the small muscles in the hands and fingers, allowing them to grasp and manipulate objects. They allow us to produce movement, coordination, and strength
For adults, we use these skills and muscles to write, type, feed ourselves, turn a door knob, sew a button, give a massage, cook dinner, and so much more. It’s important to have these muscles fine tuned in order to live our life successfully.
But what do fine motor skills look like in a baby 9-12 months old? They give them the ability to:
- Self-feed finger food
- Explore objects (wave, shake, squeeze, turn)
- Hold two toys at the same time and transfer them hand-to-hand
- Hold own bottle
- Hold own utensils
- Wave hello or goodbye
- Drop and pick up toys
- Put things in/out containers
- Turn pages in a book
- Clap hands
Check out the Fine Motor Skills Checklist for a comprehensive review and free printable checklist to keep up with your baby’s fine motor milestones.
Activities to Promote Fine Motor Skills in Your 9-12 Month Old Baby
It’s simple to find lots of activities to support your babies fine motor skills! Everyday activities that your baby loves will offer practice with these skills.
It’s all about getting those little hands and fingers moving which they’re doing on a daily basis. Your baby will learn just as much with everyday, household objects, as they will with expensive toy.
Below are some activities that require little set-up, but lots of learning opportunities. Some are activities that your child probably does daily that you may not realize are working on these skills.
Related Post: 7 Simple Tips to Teach My Baby a New Motor Skill
1. Turning Pages and Flaps Books
While reading your child their bedtime story, have them turn the pages and pick up the flaps in their book. Even while they are just exploring and playing with books, they are practicing this skill.
Board books with thick pages and flaps are still the best at this age. My daughter absolutely loves Lift-the-Flap books where she can open a flap to see a surprise picture behind.
2. PomPom Whisk
This pompom whisk activity is simple and only requires 2 items. It requires your baby to use a pincer grasp (thumb and pointer finger together) to pull out the pompoms.
Just stuff a bunch of pompoms in a kitchen whisk and watch them be entertained while pulling them out with their little fingers.
Read the full post about this activity here: Pom Pom Whisk Activity for Babies
3. Waving Hi and Bye
Your little one will see people and faces everyday, teach them how to wave hi and bye whenever they greet someone.
They may open and shut their hand/fingers or simply wave their hand and arm side-to-side. Either way, they are learning a new fine motor skill this way.
4. Edible Finger Paint
This is a great activity to get your babies hands and fingers moving, touching, and feeling with wet, colorful paint.
Get the full recipe and activity for Simple, EDIBLE, & SAFE baby finger-paint here.
5. Using Utensils
I know this seems like the messiest activity of them all and you may cringe at having to wipe yogurt off the ceiling. However, teaching your baby to use utensils is a great fine motor skill to practice.
I LOVE Grabease utensils for this age because they are super easy for little hands to grasp and makes self-feeding much easier than those long skinny spoons.
Your baby is a bit too young to be able to get the food successfully on their utensil, so you can help them out with that. Simply place the pre-loaded fork or spoon on the tray and let them pick it up and bring it to their mouth on their own.
6. Dropping and Releasing Items into Containers
Dropping or releasing items into a container is a skill that emerges around this time. Have your baby grab small objects and drop them in (after you demonstrate it for them first).
I love using simple, reusable household items to make activities for my babies and toddlers. This one uses a Puffs container and wine corks! He loved it.
You can also use shape sorters (without the top on) or any baskets, cups, Tupperware, etc. Have them drop in wooden blocks or small shapes and animal toys that you have on hand.
Check out many more Simple and Inexpensive Activities You Can Do With Household Items here.
Also, releasing coins into this piggy bank is a great way for your baby to learn this skill. They will probably need help lining up the object with the slot, but pushing it in should be a fun activity for your baby.
Mealtime is the ultimate sensory and fine motor learning experience. Since babies are typically motivated by food, they’ll love trying to pick up their favorites and bring them to their mouth.
Self-feeding just requires their hands and small pieces of food (that they can safely chew). Let them explore and play as they use a pincer grasp to hold the pieces between their fingers.
8. Stacking cups
Ok, they may not be able to stack the cups perfectly quite yet, however your little one will love playing with cups. They can attempt to stack them, put objects inside them, or even roll them around the floor and chase after them.
Solo or plastic cups work find for now, but these stacking cups are perfect if you want to make the extra purchase.
9. Frozen Toys
It’s simple to freeze small objects (pompoms, pouch caps, large beads) in a ice cube tray and let your baby have a blast feeling the cold and wetness of the ice cubes. They’ll also get to explore the objects as the ice melts.
This is a simple activity, but read the full explanation here: Frozen Toy Outdoor Sensory Activity
10. Opening and Closing Doors and Drawers
Your baby will be so fascinated with learning and exploring their whole environment now that they are crawling (or maybe even walking). Sit them next to an empty drawer or door that they can open and close and watch their amazement.