Fine Motor Skills 




Development of fine motor skills in preterm infants  

Fine motor skills involve the use of the smaller (fine) muscles in the hands, fingers and wrists to engage in activities such as grasping and holding items, writing, threading, cutting, fastening buttons turning pages on a book, typing on a computer keyboard and brushing teeth.  A child’s hand-eye coordination involves the use of their eyes to direct their muscles towards a task and plays a supporting role in the development of a child’s fine motor skills.

Preterm infants, including those born moderately preterm (32-34 weeks gestation) can have difficulties in the development of their fine motor skills which impacts their ability to engage in age appropriate activities.  As school age, between 40% and 60% of very preterm infants (born <32 weeks gestation) experience difficulties in the use of their fine motor skills.  Neonatal conditions that can increase the risk of a preterm infant experiencing difficulties in the use of fine motor skills in early childhood include intra-uterine growth restriction, inflammatory conditions and bronchopulmonary dysplasia (chronic lung disease). 


Fine motor skills involve the use of the small muscles in the hands, they also require the eyes and hands to coordinate. These skills make tasks such as dressing, writing, feeding, cutting, using a computer possible. Though these skills are normally developed in the early years, some teenagers may benefit from further fine motor practice and hand strengthening activities to consolidate their abilities.

Some age appropriate activities to further develop the skills are

  • jewellery making
  • fidget toys
  • card games
  • playing a musical instrument
  • making friendship bracelets and loom bands
  • modelling with clay
  • playing an instrument
  • playing video games
  • art projects
  • origami


Discussing any issues with your teenager’s teacher is a starting point if you are concerned about your teen’s abilities. They may suggest you engage the help of an Occupational Therapist. It is important to approach this subject with your teen in a compassionate, discrete, and caring way as it may cause personal and social issues for them.

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Disclaimer: This publication by Miracle Babies Foundation is intended solely for general education and assistance and it is it is not medical advice or a healthcare recommendation. It should not be used for the purpose of medical diagnosis or treatment for any individual condition. This publication has been developed by our Parent Advisory Team (all who are parents of premature and sick babies) and has been reviewed and approved by a Clinical Advisory Team. This publication is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Miracle Babies Foundation recommends that professional medical advice and services be sought out from a qualified healthcare provider familiar with your personal circumstances.To the extent permitted by law, Miracle Babies Foundation excludes and disclaims any liability of any kind (directly or indirectly arising) to any reader of this publication who acts or does not act in reliance wholly or partly on the content of this general publication. If you would like to provide any feedback on the information please email [email protected].