Growing and Developing Physically - Birth to 2 Years


The first two years of your child’s life mark a period of rapid physical growth. From raising himself using his arms, to pulling to sit and then to stand, from cruising to walking and even running, your child’s physical development is amazing.

Such movement is necessary for brain and motor skill development. It plays a fundamental part in your child’s physical development as well as her language, cognitive and social-emotional growth.

Large or gross motor skills include crawling, walking and running. Small or fine motor skills involve grasping (holding a crayon) to draw and even self-help skills like feeding, brushing teeth or putting on socks. These require coordination and perception, which movement games and activities can help develop.

Children generally develop large motor skills first before progressing to fine motor skills. By providing a variety of movement opportunities, you can receive valuable feedback and information about how your child is growing, developing and learning.


Fishing for toys 

Go fishing for toys!
Tie a soft toy to one end of a long piece of yarn and put the other end in your baby's hand. Show her how she can tug the string to draw the toy closer to her. Toss the toy out and help your baby to pull it back. Through this activity, your baby is practising her grasping skills and her eye-hand coordination!

Crawl with your baby!

Opportunities for movement strengthen motor development.
Through physical movement, your baby can discover his abilities and what he can do. Pile up pillows and cushions on the floor and let your toddler climb and roll around on them. Join him in the fun!

Cap and un-cap bottles!

Cap and un-cap containers!
Provide some containers with easily removeable covers and let your child try to remove and replace the covers. Provide other activities like stacking paper cups or tearing newspapers. These are great activities for developing fine motor muscles.

Make a baby obstacle course!

Make a baby obstacle course!
Using pillows, cushions, towels and blankets, create simple but safe obstacle courses for baby to crawl and explore. Get down on your fours and join your baby in the fun. Always supervise when baby is engaged with the obstacle course to ensure safety.

Fill a bottle with pegs and shake them out

Fill 'em up and shake 'em out!
Encourage your toddler to fill an empty platic bottle with clothes pegs, then tip the bottle upside down and shake until the clothes pegs all come out! This activity can help your toddler work on his fine-motor skills.

Provide your child with good nutrition

Provide your child with good nutrition and reduce processed food and sugar.
For babies and toddlers, give them plenty of opportunities to crawl and move around. Explore movements like jumping and walking on tiptoe. Move to the music and make it fun!
~ Ms N. Pushpavalli, Principal of Ramakrishna Mission Sarada Kindergarten and ECDA Fellow

Be patient and encouraging with your child

Be patient and encouraging.
Patience and encouragement may be the two most important factors which you can give generously when supporting your child's fine motor skills development. When your child feels emotionally supported and recognises that she is competent and capable, regardless the challenges on hand, she can conquer anything she sets her mind to.
~ Ms Rebecca Jaclyn Smith, Senior Programme Specialist, Learning Vision

Provide rich sensory tactile experiences!

Promote your little one's sensitivity to touch.
Using her fingers by providing rich sensory tactile experiences. Provide experiences like sand play, squishing different textured sponges, exploring different fabric textures, and even exploring a variety of materials such as dried leaves, finger paints, shaving cream or whipping cream.
~ Ms Rebecca Jaclyn Smith, Senior Programme Specialist, Learning Vision

Make time for mastery of fine motor skills

Provide time for mastery!
The mastery of fine motor skills takes time, practice, patience, and an abundant dosage of encouragement. Try to understand the demands various activities have on your child's fine motor skill abilities so that you are better able to put yourself in her shoes to render the support she needs.
~ Ms Rebecca Jaclyn Smith, Senior Programme Specialist, Learning Vision

Grasping toys

Develop hand-eye coordination
by providing your infant with stimulating toys that will encourage her to practice reaching out for things and grasping them. For example, rattles, coloured scarves and even brightly coloured balls. For toddlers, encourage them to feed themselves using spoons and cups!
~ Mrs Elsie Tan-Chua, Principal of Living Sanctuary Kindergarten


Place large hoops next to each other for your child to jump in and out of. Play some music and make this game even more exciting by playing musical hoops. Freeze in any position when the music stops. Try different types of movement like tip-toeing, hopping and even skipping.

Finger painting is fun!

Finger painting anyone?
With non-toxic finger paints and large sheets of paper, your child can explore painting with her fingers and have loads of endless fun!

Water play is fun!

Water play is fun!
Fill a basin with water and provide objects such as funnels, containers, sponges, scoops and sieves. With adult supervision, your child will have endless opportunities of fun to practice hand and finger movements.

Provide balls of different sizes

Let's play ball!
Balls are versatile. Provide balls of various sizes for your child to kick, throw, catch and roll. Place a washing basket or a wide box on the floor. Have your child stand near to throw the ball in. Encourage your child to gradually increase her distance from the container as she gets more comfortable with the throws. Remember to make it fun!


Play simple hand games like Pat-a-Cake. If you have a younger infant, gently move her arms or pat her hands or feet. Have fun doing these simple actions while singing to the tune of 'Twinkle, twinkle, little star' or 'Mary had a little lamb'.

Roll a ball

Roll the ball.
Roll a ball to your child and encourage her to roll it back. You can help her  develop eye-hand coordination and strengthen her gross and fine motor skills. Singa  song or chant "Roll, roll, roll that ball" as you roll the ball to your child. Make it fun!

Outdoor opportunities

Provide regular outdoor opportunities.
Bring your child outdoors to the playground, parks or the beach. Allow your child to engage in unstructured free play in these places. These places provide ample space for your child to practice larger movements like running and jumping. Your child can also practise ball handling and manipulative skills like throwing and catching balls, pushing a swing, pulling a wagon, lifting and carrying objects.

Using tissue boxes to make towers

Tissue boxes make tall towers.
Collect boxes of different sizes and plan many fun developmental opportunities using these boxes. You can ask your child to build towers in different ways with these boxes. Challenge her to build towers taller than herself. Stacking and balancing these boxes develop your child’s coordination skills and dexterity. Praise her for her efforts even if the towers come tumbling down in the end.

Read and teat magazines

Read and tear.
Provide your child with old magazines to look at and tear. You may show her how to use the pincer grasp to hold the paper with both hands and then move her hands away from each other (one toward her body and the other away) to tear it. The torn pieces can be used to form a collage or a piece of artwork. This allows your child to practise using her fingers in a coordinated manner and develops her fine motor skills.

Turn book pages

Turn pages.
Let your child explore sturdy books that are made of hard cardboard, plastic or fabric. Have her to help in opening and turning the pages of these books during story time or on her own. This builds her small muscles and it is a great way to introduce early literacy and book skills too.

Scribbling with different writing tools 

Let’s scribble.
Provide your child with different writing tools such as large crayons, thick pencils and thick paintbrushes to make marks and scribbles. Mark making is one of the first precursors to literacy acquisition and a great way for your child to develop those little fingers and hands to refine his fine motor skills.

Putting on sandals 

Look Mum! I can put on my sandals.
Give your older toddler opportunities to pull up her shorts, slip her feet into sandals and attempt to fasten the strap by herself.  Have patience and help only if your child is struggling. This not only empowers your child, letting her know that she can dress herself, it also allows her to exercise her fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

Action rhythms and songs with movement

Do action rhymes or songs with big movements.
Provide opportunities for your child to sing and try out simple movements that go with the songs like clapping hands, touching toes swaying   body, or swinging hands and legs. These help your child learn more about her body, practice her movement skills, and increase her interaction with and understanding of the environment. Make it a point to encourage your child with plenty of positive reinforcement for her efforts, no matter how proficient her skills.

Offer finger food for kids

Finger foods are yummy.
Offer your child finger foods such as small pieces of fruit, vegetables, crackers or cereal. She can reach out for these, pick them up and put them into her mouth.

Reaching for objects

I want that toy.
Place an object or your child’s favourite toy just slightly out of her reach. Encourage her to reach for it, kick it with her feet while she is seated or crawl towards it if she is at the crawling phase.

Placing objects within child's reach

Place objects within grasp.
For your younger infant who has yet to crawl, place objects of different textures, shapes and colours within her reach.

Tummy time

Make time for tummy time.
Short periods of tummy time offer your baby opportunities to practice lifting her head and raising herself on her elbows. Her muscles get strengthened in the process.

Holding your child up 

Hold your child up.
In this position, your child can explore by moving her head, arms and legs.

Encourage child to drink from cup

Help me to help myself.
Encourage your child to drink from a cup by herself or hold her spoon to feed herself.


Practice makes perfect.
Place your child in different positions to develop skills such as rolling, creeping, crawling or kicking. Place a mat or mattress on the floor for your child to crawl around.