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Fine and Gross Toddler Motor Skills, What’s the Difference?


During Toddler years children develop at a rate unparalleled to any other period in human lives. As the brain develops, neurological pathways are being formed to tell children how to move muscles. These muscle movements shape children’s coordination, dexterity, and balance, a group of skills collectively known as motor skills.

Motor skills are divided into two categories, fine and gross, both equally important to be exercised for healthy child development. One of the most crucial periods for engaging and encouraging motor skills is during the toddler period, when your little one is learning to grab, walk, stand, scoot, etc.

Let’s get to the basics of toddler motor skills, fine and gross.

Fine Motor Skills:

Smaller, more precise movements engaging smaller muscles in the hands, toes, feet, fingers. These are the skills children use to write, paint, pick things up, grip.


How do we practice fine toddler motor skills?

Turning the pages of books

Painting, coloring, drawing

Apps utilizing touch-screen dragging, matching, drawing


Shaking music making with rattles, tambourines, etc.


Sign Language

Counting on fingers


Gross Motor Skills:

Bigger movements utilizing larger muscles or groups of muscles in the arms, legs, and entire body. Walking, sitting, crawling, head movements and all forms and combinations of these actions are all considered gross motor skills.


How do we practice gross toddler motor skills?


Playing catch


Pushing objects

Pulling yourself up


Balancing on one foot


Crawling on all fours