What Develops First - Fine or Gross Motor Skills?

stacking cups

When researching developmental toys, you probably have stumbled upon the terms fine motor skills and gross motor skills. Many toys for little children often facilitate development of these areas. For example, stacking cups are designed to encourage the use of hands and fingers as well as sitting upright. But what exactly are fine motor skills and gross motor skills? Letís take a look at these two sets of skills, their differences and.

What are motor skills?

Motor skills are abilities that allow us to perform purposeful movements and certain actions which involve using a group of muscles. These skills help us move around and do almost everything from walking to using a pair of scissors. Children start developing motor skills after birth and continue refining these skills as they grow older.

What is the difference between fine motor skills and gross motor skills?

Fine motor skills are abilities that use a small group of muscles to perform actions that are often precise in nature. Think about a pianist or a surgeon. Regular use and continued practice could eventually lead to better fine motor skill function. Conversely, lack of practice and non-use for long periods of time could lead to loss of certain fine motor skills.

Gross motor skills on the other hand are abilities that use a large group of muscles. These skills allow us to perform actions like running, jumping, walking and many more. People do not usually lose gross motor skills due to non-use.

Which motor skills develop first?

Gross motor skills are developed first before fine motor skills. A baby learns how to move her arms often towards her mouth before she learns how to use her hands and fingers to pick up and hold objects.

Physical development starts from the head then downwards. Babies learn how to control their necks before they are able to crawl.

Why is it important to develop these motor skills at an early age?

It is important to develop motor skills at an early age. Motor skills allow children to perform and complete tasks independently as they grow older. They also need these skills to be able to explore their surroundings and learn more about themselves and how the world works.

Both fine motor skills and gross motor skills are considered essential skills that will allow your children to perform at school. When children start going to school, they will engage in different activities that involve using both fine motor skills and gross motor skills like playing games, writing, colouring picture books and many more.

There are many ways to encourage children to practice both fine motor skills and gross motor skills. Toys like stacking cups and building blocks are amazing toys for developing fine motor skills. Whereas push carts and pull toys encourage children to become more active and mobile which results in development of gross motor skills. Outdoor activities such as gardening are also good for developing both motor skills.


Next Up: Why Are Stacking Cups Good for Babies?