Support for PBS Parents provided by:


  • Arthur
  • Cat in the Hat
  • Curious George
  • Daniel Tiger
  • Dinosaur Train
  • Nature Cat
  • Odd Squad
  • Peg + Cat
  • Pinkalicous and Peterriffic
  • Ready Jet Go
  • Splash and Bubbles
  • Sesame Street
  • Super Why!
  • Wild Kratts
  • Ruff Ruffman Show
  • Mister Rogers
  • Cyberchase
  • SciGirls
  • Sid the Science Kid
  • Martha Speaks
  • The Electric Company
  • WordGirl
  • Caillou
  • Oh Noah
  • Fizzy's Lunch Lab
  • Maya & Miguel
  • Postcards from Buster
  • Clifford
  • WordWorld
  • DragonFly TV
  • ZOOM

Education

Reading & Language

Baby Writing Milestones

Baby grasping toyBirth to 6 Months Old
Babies are just learning to use their hands. At first, your baby will not be able to grasp objects by himself, but he will awkwardly grasp a toy placed in his palm. Your 4-to 6-month-old baby can reach for and grasp things he wants. Babies will explore objects by putting them in their mouths.

6 to 12 Months Old
Babies gain more control over their hands. At this age, your baby is able to pass objects from hand to hand and may enjoy ripping and pulling materials. She is able to pick up very small objects using her thumb and forefinger. Babies’ hand movements become more precise, allowing them to feed themselves finger food and place rings on a post.

12 to 18 Months Old
Babies have developed the hand skills necessary for grasping writing tools and making marks on paper. Only at the very end of infancy, at 17 or 18 months, will your baby begin to become interested in writing. You should not expect pictures or even “coloring,” let alone letters, from your baby. By scribbling, your baby explores what he can do with crayons and paper and tries to imitate what he sees older children and parents do.


Encouraging Your Baby to Write

  • Chunky tools are easier for small hands. As your baby learns how to scribble, it is easier for the small muscles in his hands to grasp thicker writing tools. Markers, crayons, chalk, and paintbrushes are all available in special chunky “young child” versions that are ideal for beginners.
  • Use washable materials to save on cleanup. When your baby is learning to scribble, she doesn’t have a lot of control. Provide her with washable crayons, paints, and markers. A plastic smock or an old T-shirt can be used to protect her clothing, and a sheet of plastic or painting tarp can protect the floor. Talk to your baby about trying to keep marks on the intended writing or painting surface, but don’t expect perfection.
  • Use washable materials to save on cleanup. When your baby is learning to scribble, she doesn’t have a lot of control. Provide her with washable crayons, paints, and markers. A plastic smock or an old T-shirt can be used to protect her clothing, and a sheet of plastic or painting tarp can protect the floor. Talk to your baby about trying to keep marks on the intended writing or painting surface, but don’t expect perfection.
  • Talk to your baby about her scribbles. Ask your baby, “What did you write?” or comment on the colors she used. By asking her questions about and commenting on her work, you help her to understand that her marks on paper represent an object or an idea. Express pride in your baby’s work by offering specific comments, such as “You wrote a lot of letters!” or “What a big doggie you drew!”

What's this?

Sign up for free newsletters.

Connect with Us


PBS Parents Picks

  1. Wild Kratts image

    Wild Kratts App Teaches Young Children How to Care for Animals

    In this app, kids are charge of feeding, washing, and playing with baby animals.


  2. Curious Kids image

    How (And Why) To Encourage Curiosity

    "...when people are curious about something, they learn more, and better."


  3. Gardening Benefits image

    The Benefits of Gardening With Kids

    Don’t let the idea overwhelm you. A few containers and soil in a sunny spot will do.