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Brighter Days: 4 Top Tips to Foster Hand-Eye Coordination

Jennifer Bright on

My sons are teenagers: 13, 14, 15 and 16. They are all big computer game fans, and we joke often they are developing incredible hand-eye coordination with all of that gaming!

When my sons were babies, though, I found it incredible to think that as a 1-year-old is working to master walking and then running, he's also improving his fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. At 1 year old, most babies have a hard time picking up small objects. But by 1 1/2 years, most children can pick up tiny objects between their thumbs and forefingers -- and get them into their mouths, of course.

By age 2, most children are able to hold a pencil properly and create their first art masterpieces -- well, scribbles, anyway. At 2, your child can probably color with sweeping vertical, and then circular, marks. It's in the second year that most children start to use one hand more frequently than the other. Soon, you'll have the answer to the question, is he right- or left-handed? By age 3, a child can probably trace an object like a cookie cutter, draw a circle and scribble very well.

Most 2-year-olds can pick up a container and turn it over to pour out the contents, though don't expect your child to run for the dustpan and broom and sweep up the mess. At 2, most children can stack four blocks into a tower -- only to knock them right over again. Soon, your child will be able to stack six or more blocks with ease.

At 3 years old, most toddlers can turn rotating handles. (Time to step up those baby-proofing efforts!) Toddlers enjoy imitating the people they love by learning how to use tools such as scissors, flashlights, screwdrivers and gardening shovels.

"I'm a big kid now!" you can hear them thinking!

Here's what our Mommy M.D.s -- doctors who are also mothers -- do to help their own babies' hand-eye coordination.

"When my girls were babies, I found some soft block toys with black and white designs, and I would use them to have the girls track and reach," says Marra S. Francis, M.D., a mom of six children and an OB-GYN in Helotes, Texas. "As they got older, we would play catch or tag together to improve their coordination."


"I loved giving my sons 'Thomas the Tank Engine' wooden trains with magnetic ends to play with," says Jill Wireman, M.D., a mom of two sons and a pediatrician in private practice at Johnson City Pediatrics in Tennessee. "Because of the polarity of the magnets, the trains have to be pointing in the right direction to connect. Also, putting the trains on the track required my sons to carefully place the wheels in the grooves of the track. Playing with those trains was fun for my sons, and it also fostered good hand-eye coordination."

"The game technology we have today is very helpful for teaching kids hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills," says Rebecca Reamy, M.D., a mom of two sons, a pediatrician and the chief of the department of pediatrics at Columbus Regional Health in Columbus, Georgia. "By 2 years old, my son was playing Angry Birds by himself! I believe computer games help kids learn numbers and letters, too. You have to be careful what you give kids, though. Over the holidays, we got a live Christmas tree. When we took the tree down a few weeks later, we found the old iPod Touch I let my younger son play with floating in the tree water. The lesson is to keep an eye on the 2-year-old when he is playing with an expensive 'toy' like that!"

"I have bad handwriting, and today, all of my children have trouble with their handwriting and other fine motor skills," says Amy Baxter, M.D., a mom of three, the CEO of Buzzy Helps and a National Institutes of Health researcher based in Atlanta. "In retrospect, if I knew then what I know now, I might have done more activities with my toddlers to develop their fine motor skills. For example, I could have had them dry the silverware and pick up small items to strengthen the fine muscles in their hands and develop better dexterity. But until you see what your kids are going to be good at and not so good at, it's hard to know where to intervene."

"I encouraged my toddlers to develop their hand-eye coordination through play," says Rallie McAllister, M.D., M.P.H., mom of three, co-author of "The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby's First Year" and family physician in Lexington, Kentucky. "We made games of picking up blocks and putting them one by one into a box while we counted each one. We had a toy workbench with wooden pegs, and all of my boys enjoyed hammering away at those pegs. My husband was convinced that each of our sons would be drafted by the NBA at any moment, so he bought a 4-foot plastic basketball net, and he spent a lot of hours encouraging the boys to shoot hoops."


Jennifer Bright is a mom of four sons, co-founder and CEO of family- and veteran- owned custom publisher Momosa Publishing, co-founder of the Mommy MD Guides team of 150+ mommy M.D.s, and co-author of "The Mommy MD Guide to the Toddler Years." She lives in Hellertown, Pennsylvania. To find out more about Jennifer Bright and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Copyright 2020 Creators Syndicate Inc.



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