Before becoming a parent, I don’t think I ever gave thought to the words fine motor skills. Now that I am a mother of three young toddlers, however, I think about these words almost all the time.

Fine motor control is defined as the coordination of muscles, bones and nerves to produce small precise movements. When a child has fine motor control he or she is able to stack blocks, hold a pencil, write with a pencil, cut out shapes with scissors etc. The strength of these skills (or lack thereof) is important to your child’s development and may even impact your child’s readiness for school and/or performance in school. According to one kindergarten teacher in an article about school readiness on, ‘if kids can’t hold the pencil correctly, they will fall behind.’

Your child’s fine motor skills will develop during the first 6 years of his or her life, but there may be much that we can do as parents to develop or enhance these skills. According to Lauren Robertson, MS, OTR, a Pediatric Occupational Therapist with 25 years of experience working with children 0-3, “a stable trunk and shoulders are important for developing fine motor control. By 9 months of age, infants should be sitting securely enough to have their hands free to play.”

Between 9-18 months, “this is the period of time that the foundation of hand function develops. During this phase “children learn that individual fingers move, the thumb opposes, the index finger pokes and both hands work together to pull things apart and push together.”

The challenge for parents “is providing safe opportunities for fine motor exploration. If small objects are involved, “fine motor play should be closely supervised during this period of development.”

According to Ms. Robertson, MS, OTR, the toys or items that are good for developing fine motor skills in children 9-18 months are:

• Nesting cups
• Stacking rings
• Shape sorter bucket
• Pop up toys
• Simple wooden puzzles with small knobs
• Small wooden blocks
• Musical piggy bank with large coins
• Foam pegboard
• Duplos
• Mega Blocks
• Lacing shapes
• Activity centers with doors that open and close (Fisher Price small kitchen)
• Cheerios
• Cheerios play books
• Books with small flaps
• MagnaDoodle

Notoya Green is a New York City mom of three adorable triplet toddlers – Eva, David and Samuel (identical twins). In her blog she talks about her life as a new mom, life as a triplet mother and everything in between. You can keep up with Notoya at Triplets in Tribeca.