Toys can be used to work on any developmental skill. If you want to give your 1 year old’s fine motor skills a boost, we have recommendations for you! Keep reading to learn about the best toys for fine motor skill development.
To start, let’s explore what your 1 year old should be learning to do!
Fine Motor Skill Development for 1 Year Olds
Babies change dramatically from 12 to 24 months! Their fine motor skills develop rapidly at this age. Here are some things you can expect them to start doing after they turn one.
12 to 15 months
- Take toys out of a container and put them back in
- Open a book
- Point and poke with one isolated finger extended
- Place one simple shape in a puzzle or shape sorter
- Mark paper with a writing utensil and try scribbling
15 to 18 months
- Stack 2 blocks
- Turn knobs
18 to 21 months
- Put rings on a ring stacker
- Turn book pages 1 at a time
21 to 24 months
- Build a 4 to 6 block tower
- Feed themselves well with a spoon with minimal spillage
- Put pegs into a pegboard
- String large beads
- Imitate drawing a vertical line down
Toys for 1 Year Old Fine Motor Skill Development
Board books are great for 1 year olds. The pages won’t rip like with paper books and it’s much easier for chubby 1 year old fingers to turn the pages. Lift the flap books like this one are also great for encouraging use of 1 finger to peek behind the flap.
Poke-A-Dot books are one of my favorite ways to work on poking skills. This skill also transfers to baby pointing to things, which is an important communication skill.
Melissa & Doug make small versions of their books like this First Words one. This is a great size for young 1 year olds. If your child is getting closer to age 2, they may prefer the larger books like this Farm theme one, since there is a lot more happening on each page.
Pop-it Fidget Toys
Pop-it toys are another great way to work on poking skills. Fat Brain toys makes a larger one for babies that your new one year old may love. As they get older, they may prefer something like these rainbow colored pop-its. The holes are smaller so this is a little more challenging.
Toys with Knobs
Toys with knobs to twist, turn, push, and pull are great for working on a variety of fine motor skills. These toys are also great for cognitive development while baby tries to figure out how to play with the toy.
The Hedgehog Fidget Friend from Learning Resources is a great option and super cute. Pop-up toys are a classic option that also allow baby to work on different finger movements.
Small blocks to practice stacking and early building skills are great for ages 1 and up. They can be used for many years which is a big bonus! Melissa & Doug’s ABC blocks are a classic option for stacking towers. Melissa & Doug also make this 100pc set of blocks of different sizes, which is a great option for increasing the challenge a bit.
Connecting blocks are a great toy to use to work on bilateral coordination (using both sides of the body together in a coordinated way). Children have to use both hands to pull the pieces apart.
Mega Blocks are great for ages 12-18 months. For children over 18 months, I recommend increasing the challenge by moving up to Duplo Legos. The smaller pieces are more challenging to pull apart and put together which helps to improve hand strength and fine motor coordination.
For more ideas to develop hand strength, check out our article on Hand Strengthening Activities.
This 3 piece shape sorter by Battat is one of my favorites. It is easier than most shape sorters out there because it only has 3 shapes, so it’s great when children are first learning. It also makes a fun sound as the shape travels downward which is unique and adds a little more motivation for the child to try it out.
Melissa & Doug have a wooden 12 piece shape sorter that is great for little ones as they get closer to age 2.
By 18 months, most children can put a few pieces into a simple puzzle. You can start with simple shapes like this one and move on to more complex shapes like this animal puzzle. Puzzles that make sound effects add a little extra fun, especially for children that aren’t very interested in puzzles.
Pegboard toys require fine motor coordination to orient the peg correctly and place into the hole. This is a great skill to work on, especially if puzzles and shape sorters are still too hard. The Hedgehog from Learning Resources is a cute one and the pegs can be stored inside the toy which is a nice bonus!
The School Bus from The Original Toy Company is a bit easier and you can also make the pegs spring into the air by pushing them down and releasing quickly. This is a fun way to peak your child’s interest!
Lacing Beads are a great bilateral activity that requires skilled coordination of both hands. Your child may need help at first with this one! Strings with a wooden stick at the end are easiest to push through the hole, like this one by Alex Little Hands.
As your child begins to master this skill, you can move on to using a regular string, like the one in this pack from Melissa & Doug. They will probably be ready to try this as they get closer to age 2.
Crayons & Writing Utensils
Crayons are the preferred writing utensil for young kids. There is more sensory feedback compared to markers because of the resistance felt when drawing.
These jumbo crayons by Crayola are great for 12 months and up and are easier for little hands to hold compared to standard sized crayons (plus harder to break!). If you’re worried about your toddler putting crayons in their mouth, I highly recommend these all natural beeswax crayons by Honey Sticks.
Yes, the purpose of toys is for FUN! But you can also work on some great fine motor skills while having fun. Your child will just think they are playing but you will know you are supporting their development too!
Developmental Milestones: 12 Months – HealthyChildren.org
CHOC Rehab-Developmental Milestones final.docx (choc.org)
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