Let’s Talk About Fine Motor Skills: Crossing The Body’s Midline

Let’s Talk About Fine Motor Skills: Crossing The Body's Midline | Little Feet Pediatric Occupational Therapy Pediatric Speech Therapy Clinic Washington DC, Charlotte NC, Raleigh NC, St Louis MO

Fine motor skills are an important part of a child’s development.

They help children perform tasks and develop necessary skills through intricate muscle movements.

Crossing the body’s midline is a necessary developmental skill.

It’s needed for everyday tasks and coordinated complex movements.

Is your child struggling with their fine motor skills and crossing the body’s midline?

It may be because of an underlying health condition.

Delays in developing fine motor skills, such as crossing the midline, can be frustrating for your child.

At Little Feet Pediatric Therapy, we’re a pediatric occupational therapy clinic and can help your child overcome the obstacles interfering with their lives.

We can assist in your child’s development of fine motor skills so that they are free to explore and learn about the world.

Let’s take a look at crossing the body’s midline and what that means for your child’s development of fine motor skills.

What Is Crossing The Body’s Midline?

Imagine a line going down the center of the body that separates it between left and right.

Crossing the body’s midline is the ability to reach across this imaginary line with your arms and legs.

This skill allows your child to cross over their body and perform tasks on the opposite side.

Before crossing midline is established, a child will only work one side of their body at a time; ie reach for an object on the right side of their body with their right hand.

Crossing midline promotes the coordination and communication of the left and right hemispheres of the brain and allows for the two sides of the body to work together.

The brain is divided into two hemispheres.

In order to cross midline, each of the hemispheres of the brain need to work together.

Each side is designed to carry out a different task.

There is a mass of tissues between the two hemispheres called the corpus callosum.

The corpus callosum contains the nerve fibers that allow the two sides of the brain to communicate.

When children cross the midline, it forces both sides of their brain to work together which in turns develop higher order thinking skills, learning, attention, sensory integration, body awareness, and critical thinking.

Refresh: What Are Fine Motor Skills?

Fine motor skills are related to small motions in your hands and wrists.

These skills are used in everyday activities.

They require lots of effort and control to perform small and precise movements.

Things like holding a pencil and writing, typing on a keyboard, and self care skills like brushing your teeth all require coordinated fine motor skills.

The development of fine motor skills allows your child to perform daily tasks and learn new things.

What Does Crossing The Body’s Midline Do For Your Child’s Development?

Crossing midline is a necessary developmental skill that affects daily tasks and activities.

It also assists with brain development useful for learning and critical thinking as children get older.

Things like writing, getting dressed, tying your shoe, and working in coordination with both hands during fine and gross motor tasks all require you to be able to cross midline.

Avoiding crossing the midline may delay some of their skills developing and create obstacles in performing daily tasks.

Difficulty in crossing the midline also makes it hard to visually track moving objects from one side to another.

This could not only affect your child’s reading ability and hand eye coordination, but also impact their ability to attend to learning.

When Should Your Child Be Able To Cross Their Body’s Midline?

Babies are usually able to follow a moving object across their midline visually from about four months old which assists in their ability to roll.

They’re usually able to cross the midline to play with their feet at around six to seven months.

At eight to twelve months they’re normally able to cross the midline to grab a toy or object.

These skills continue developing more complexly until children reach three to four years old, at which point they’re drawing.

By the time they begin to read and go to school, they should be able to follow words across the page with their eyes and fingers, and reach for object on the side of their body with either hand.

Signs Your Child Is Struggling With Crossing The Body’s Midline

There are a number of signs to look out for that can indicate that your child is struggling with crossing the body’s midline.

Let’s take a look at some of them:

  • They swap hands mid task
  • They rotate their body instead of reaching across
  • They have trouble tracking things visually
  • They struggle with coloring or writing and sometimes will only fill half of the paper
  • They have delayed gross motor skills development

RELATED: How Can Occupational Therapy Help With Poor Handwriting?

What Causes This?

If your child is having trouble crossing midline, there are a number of different things which can cause it.

They can be cognitive, developmental, or physical conditions.

As well, premature children may be more likely to experience delays in the development of their fine motor skills.

Let’s take a look at some of the conditions that may contribute to delays in fine motor skills like crossing the body’s midline.


Hypotonia occurs when your baby has low muscle tone.

Low muscle tone means that their muscles have less resistance at rest. This may make their body feel softer or limp.

This means it takes more effort for the muscles to contract so children with low muscle tone typically have muscle weakness and might physically tire quicker than their peers.

Due to this, children are typically behind on their fine and gross motor skills.

RELATED: Pediatric Physical Therapy Treatments For Hypotonia

Developmental Coordination Disorder

Developmental coordination disorder is a neurological disorder that causes difficulty with motor skills.

This condition affects how your child’s brain processes and coordinates motor skills and information.


ADHD may cause restlessness and difficulty in your child controlling their impulses and staying focused.

It may cause poor balance, perception issues, and irregular posture.

ADHD can also affect how your child’s motor skills develop, which may lead to issues with crossing the midline.

Pediatric therapy for ADHD can help.

RELATED: How Can ADHD Affect Your Child’s Social Skills

Learning Disabilities

Learning disabilities don’t generally reflect your child’s intelligence.

But they may affect their ability to process and learn specific kinds of tasks and information.

This can include things like spatial awareness and motor skills.

If your child has a learning disability, they may benefit from sensory integration therapy or another pediatric occupational therapy approach.

Book your appointment with Little Feet Pediatric Therapy today to find out more.

Other Causes

Conditions like cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy can cause delay in motor skills.

Problems with vision can also be linked to fine motor skills delays.

It’s also possible your child has what’s called an idiopathic developmental delay.

That means it’s a delay with no known cause.

What Is Crossing The Body’s Midline? | Little Feet Pediatric Occupational Therapy Pediatric Speech Therapy Clinic Washington DC, Charlotte NC, Raleigh NC, St Louis MO

How To Help Your Child Cross Their Body’s Midline

To help your child encourage them to use their two handed skills and use both sides of their body at the same time.

Apply crossing the midline activities in daily life.

Something like getting dressed and placing socks on the other side of their body can help your child cross their midline.

It can also help to build core stability and trunk rotation to encourage them to physically move and cross the midline.

Some activities that can help your child cross the midline are:

  • Craft activities
  • Playing musical instruments
  • Playing with stickers (alternating hands)
  • Twister
  • Popping bubbles on opposite sides
  • Marching games
  • Playing with finger puppets
  • Tying shoelaces
  • Catching a ball
  • Riding a bike
  • Jumping

How Can A Pediatric Occupational Therapist Help?

When children have fine motor skills delays it can get in the way of them exploring and learning.

A pediatric occupational therapist can help your child develop their fine motor skills in daily activities.

They will design activities that seem fun, like playing with modeling dough or pouring water from one container to another.

These sorts of activities will help with your child’s hand movements and get them to twist their body around.

Developmental delays in fine motor skills can also affect their social and academic skills development.

Your child’s occupational therapist can help improve on those skills and prepare them for the school environment.

They can also help develop your child’s hand dominance, improve their gross motor skills, their visual tracking and handwriting, and help them complete age appropriate tasks.

Book Your Appointment With Little Feet Pediatric Therapy Today

If your child has delays in their fine motor skills development and with crossing the midline, we’re here to help.

Here at Little Feet Pediatric Therapy, we’re happy to help your child overcome their barriers and develop their skills so they can focus on learning and growing.

Pediatric occupational therapy can help your child develop and learn new skills so they can explore the world freely.

Book your appointment with Little Feet Pediatric Therapy today.

Little Feet Therapy
3535 Randolph Rd, Charlotte, NC 28211
1331 H St NW Ste 200, Washington, DC 20005
St. Louis, MO
Raleigh, NC

Founded in 2019, Little Feet Therapy offers on site pediatric physical and occupational therapy treatments for children from 2 months to 18 years old with physical and developmental concerns. Our clinics focus on providing therapy in a child’s natural setting where your child is in familiar surroundings, it puts their mind at ease and helps them focus more on the work they’re doing with their pediatric therapist. Our therapists will work with your child at your home, at school, at daycare, or another place in the community where they feel most comfortable.