The 11 Best Toys for Fine Motor Skill Development of 2021

Help your baby reach their milestones

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Our Top Picks
Little ones can take these eggs apart and put them back together, developing their fine motor skills and learning to match colors.
This learning board has five lock activities that will help further strengthen fine motor skills like twisting and turning.
It comes with 11 brightly colored interchangeable gears, has plenty of buttons for kids to push, and plays songs and lights up.
Your kiddo will master small movements and also start learning how to sort colors and create patterns using the spikes.
No matter the skill setting, kids will take the large coins and push them through a small slot on the piggy’s back.
The blocks fit neatly into a shape cutout on the cube, which requires the use of fine motor skills to accurately line them up.
Ideal for kids up to three years old, they'll master small movements through little triggers that pop the monsters up.
It features five different ways to play including a shape sorter, abacus counting beads, wire bead maze, and sliding flowers.
Little ones can use the flippers to shoot the balls into the tower, which requires both aim and dexterity.
The toy lets kids pull, flip switches, spin, and turn different parts while it also plays music and teaches counting and colors.

Kids two years old and younger are constantly developing new skills and strengthening old ones. One of those major developmental areas is fine motor skills like the pincer grasp and other small hand gestures and movements. Kids start developing the skills on their own, but they only master them with a lot of practice, which is why toys that focus on fine motor skills are so great for encouraging these skills while still having fun.

You can help your little ones strengthen their skills with one of these fantastic toys. 

Good to Know

You can refer to the CDC Developmental Milestone Chart to see what kinds of movements are appropriate for your child’s age. 

TOMY Toomies Hide & Squeak Eggs

TOMY Toomies Hide & Squeak Eggs
Pros
  • Budget-friendly

  • Safe for children 18 months old and up

Cons
  • Squeaking may be too loud for some

  • Chick squeakers are not removable

Little ones 18 months old and up can take these eggs apart and put them back together. When the eggs are open, kids can push down on them to hear a squeak noise to further develop their small directed movements. In addition to fine motor skills, this toy also helps kids learn how to sort and match colors. Parents love that the egg carton makes post-playing cleanup and storage a breeze.

VTech Latches and Doors Busy Board

Pros
  • Songs and lights included

  • Teaches about animals and numbers

Cons
  • Can only be used for a couple of years

  • Batteries required

This learning board has five lock activities that will help strengthen your little one's fine motor skills like twisting, pulling, sliding, and turning. Designed for kids between 1 and 3 years old, this colorful toy goes beyond just fine motor skills as it also helps teach kids about different animals as well as numbers. Don't forget to grab three AA batteries to power up the song and light-up features.

Playskool Explore 'N Grow Busy Gears

Pros
  • 11 interchangeable gears

  • Songs and lights included

Cons
  • Not recommended for children under 12 months old

With this twisty toy, tots 12 months old and up can add or remove gear spokes to create their own little working machine, which they have to spin and turn in order to see it come to life. It comes with 11 brightly colored interchangeable gears, has plenty of buttons for kids to push, and plays songs and lights up! It’s such a fun toy that they’ll never realize they’re learning and developing while they’re playing with it. 

Learning Resources Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog

Pros
  • 14 pieces included

  • Easy storage for spikes

Cons
  • Spikes cannot be purchased separately

There are a lot of ways to learn with this single toy. The little hedgehog has 12 colorful spikes that are molded just right to make them easy for little hands to hold and pull out and then carefully put back into the empty hole. Not only will your kiddo really master those small movements, but they can also start learning how to sort colors, count, and create patterns using the spikes.  

Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Piggy Bank

Pros
  • Safe for babies 6 months and up

  • Three learning settings

  • Pig's button nose sings songs/talks

Cons
  • Batteries required

Tots between 6 and 36 months old can enjoy and learn from this toy piggy bank. It has three learning settings based on age which teach things like numbers, colors, speech, and animal sounds. As toddlers take large coins and push them through the small slot on the piggy’s back, they are using their focus, concentration, and fine motor skills. There’s also a flap on the piggy’s side that needs to be pulled down to access the coins that went through the slot and when the pig’s button nose is pressed, it will sing songs and talk. 

Melissa & Doug Shape Sorting Cube

Pros
  • Includes 12 shapes

  • Sturdy

Cons
  • Not recommended for children under 2 years old

Shape sorters are a classic kids toy because they’re engaging and offer a lot of learning opportunities. This one is made completely from wood and has 12 blocks in different shapes and colors. The blocks fit neatly into a shape cutout on the cube, which requires the use of fine motor skills to accurately line up the block to the cutout. It’s best for kids 2 years old and up who are strengthening their motor skills. 

Fisher-Price Monster Pop-Up Surprise

Pros
  • Teaches numbers/colors

  • Safe for babies 6 months old and up

Cons
  • Buttons may be too hard to press for younger children

With just a push of a button, twist of a knob, or flip of a switch, your little one will be introduced to four little pop-up monsters. It’s made for kids between six months and three years old, helping them master small movements through little triggers that pop the monsters up, which they then have to push back down to play again. The toy also features several bright colors and numbers 1 through 4 to help sharpen their counting skills. 

Play22 Activity Cube with Bead Maze

Pros
  • Strengthens more than fine motor skills

  • Five different ways to play

Cons
  • Not recommended for children under 12 months old

  • Small

Kiddos 12 months old and up will definitely be entertained with this toy which features five different ways to play including a shape sorter, abacus counting beads, wire bead maze, spinning number blocks, and sliding flowers. Each way to play will help strengthen fine motor skills, among others like logic and reasoning, color identification, counting, and hand-eye coordination. 

Step2 Ball Buddies Tunnel Tower

Pros
  • Several pieces included

  • No batteries required

Cons
  • Not recommended for children under 12 months old

  • Bulky

Complete with a tunnel tower, two trucks, 10 plastic play balls, and two ball flippers, your toddler will be immersed in hours of fun. They can use the flippers to shoot the balls into the tower, which requires aim and the dexterity to pull the flipper down and release it. The trucks are designed to carry the balls down the ramps once they’ve gone through the tunnel and have been released by twisting a little stopper. The toy is the perfect blend of learning and fun for kids between one and three years old. 

Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Peek and Play Busy Garden

Pros
  • Three-stage learning system

  • Plays music

Cons
  • Batteries required

This cute little toy has seven different activities that are perfect for kids between 6 months and 3 years old. Kids can pull, flip switches, spin, push, and turn different parts that will help strengthen their fine motor skills. It also plays music and teaches things like counting, colors, and the alphabet using the three-stage learning system that allows the toy to advance as your child develops. 

Learning Resources Hoot the Fine Motor Owl

Pros
  • Budget-friendly

  • Features different shapes/colors

Cons
  • Replacement coins not sold

Hoot the Owl offers all kinds of fun challenges for kids 18 months old and up. It comes with five brightly colored coins, which are numbered and have different shapes cut out of them, that fit into a slot on top of the owl’s head. The owl’s eyes are little gears that kids can twist with their fingers, its beak squeaks with a little squeeze, and the wings flap by pulling two little circles on the front of the owl in toward each other. Not to mention, it’s really cute! 

Final Verdict

Finding the best toy for your child will depend on where they are developmentally. That said, for kids under one year old, the Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Peek & Play Busy Garden (view on Amazon) is a great pick, and the Learning Resources Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog (view on Amazon) is a fun and engaging toy for tots 18 months and up.

What to Look for When Buying Toys for Fine Motor Skill Development

Age-Appropriate

Toy shopping for kids can be fun, but when you're looking for toys to help develop skills, that can be a bit more tricky. When you're looking for toys that build fine motor skills, you'll want to make sure they're age appropriate for your child. If you buy a toy that's not age appropriate, you risk your child feeling overwhelmed because it's too advanced or they won't be interested because it's beyond the age recommendation.

If you're struggling on where to start for age-appropriate toys, check the manufacturer's age recommendation. You'll want toys that aren't too challenging, but also help children meet their milestones, which give you an idea of how your child is developing. Once you determine the milestones children need to be meeting, you can start there to determine what will help and interest your child best for their age.

Safety

Safety is of the utmost importance when it comes to buying any type of toy. Young children love putting toys in their mouth, so you want to make sure that all toys are the correct size. While there are plenty of smaller toys on the market to help develop fine motor skills, this doesn't mean they're safe for your child.

Consider your child's age and if the toy contains any small pieces. To help prevent choking from happening, you'll want to "think large" when it comes to toys. Any toy that is smaller than your child's mouth should be bypassed as they're then a choking hazard. Also, avoid any toys that require button batteries or magnets.

Features

You may not think of looking at all of a toy's features when out shopping, but what many parents and caregivers don't realize is how important features are for toys and fine motor skills. Fine motor skills include the movement of small muscles in their hands, and include activities like pouring liquid into a cup or getting dressed.

Many parents and caregivers turn to toys to help develop those skills even more. If you're looking for toys to do just that, check out toys with features like pulling, placing, buttons, or tags. This encourages children to use their hands to accomplish a task and helps develop fine motor skills.

FAQs

What are fine motor skills?

While we know fine motor skills involve the use of hands, it can be much more complex than that. Not only are children using their hands, but their wrists and fingers, too. Most of the time children don't realize how often they're developing fine motor skills in their every day life.

Fine motor skills are developed when we use our hands, wrists, and fingers through small muscle movements. It sounds simple, but on the flip side, our brain and muscles essentially talk and are built on gross motor skills, which allow us to make physical movements. These skills are needed for us to complete daily tasks, like brushing our teeth or holding a pencil.

When does my baby start to develop fine motor skills?

What may be surprising to some parents and caregivers is that the development of fine motor skills begins immediately after birth. During the first three months of a baby's life, they are already developing several important fine motor skills, such as opening their hands and brining their hands to their mouth. It's also a reason why tummy time is so important those first several months of a child's life.

After the first three months of a baby's life, fine motor skills begin to involve toys. Whether they briefly hold the toy or reach for it, fine motor skills are encouraged. From there, children become more mobile and you'll notice their fine motor skills really take off.

Why Trust Verywell Family

Ashley Ziegler is a staff and freelance writer who covers lifestyle, home, parenting, and commerce content for a variety of platforms. She’s a mom to 1-year-old and 3-year-old daughters and an aunt to 3 nieces and 2 nephews ranging from 5 to 10 years old. Her one-year- old has several of these developmental toys at home including Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog, the Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Piggy Bank, and the Melissa & Doug Shape Sorting Cube.

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5 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. CDC. What is a developmental milestone? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  2. How to buy safe toys. HealthyChildren.org.

  3. Help your child build fine motor skills. NAEYC.

  4. What are fine motor skills?

  5. Fine motor skills: birth to 2 years | Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU.