Child Development and Milestones: Your 3-Year-Old
What are some of the milestones your three-year-old tot might be meeting right about now? Let's find out.
You’ve blinked, and now suddenly, your baby is a “big” 3-year-old going on 13! Your little one has now officially passed the terrible twos stage, and has entered what are know as “the magic years.” This is because he finally seems ready to settle down and listen to you, and also because he develops a magical sense of imagination and curiosity during this stage. So, what 3-year-old milestones should you expect?
In this article, you’ll learn about some common 3-year-old milestones and get reassurance that your mighty little 3-year-old is right on track. However, you should also keep in mind that children develop at their own pace and therefore, may hit various “milestones” at different times.
If you are worried in any way at all about your child’s development, it’s always best to talk to your paediatrician.
3-Year-Old Development and Milestones: Is Your Child on Track?
Among the many 3-year-old milestones, you’ll notice just how nimble your threenager is! By now, your child’s median height and weight* should be as follows:
– Height: 95.2 cm (37.5 in)
– Weight: 14.3 kg (31.6 lbs)
– Head Circumference: 49.5 cm (19.5 in)
– Height: 94 cm (37 in)
– Weight: 13.9 kg (30.7 lbs)
– Head Circumference: 48.5 cm (19.1 in)
At this age, he or she should be a master of running, jumping and even climbing! In addition, check for the following 3-year-old milestones:
- Runs a short distance without tumbling over
- Easily climbs up low furniture
- Rides a tricycle
- Climbs up and down stairs using alternating feet
- Kicks and throws a ball well
- Can walk in a straight line, and on tip-toe
Another 36-month-old milestone your child might display now is the ability to feed himself. Yes, it will probably involve a lot of mess. But this is a sign that his fine motor skills are improving.
Wanting to eat on their own is a sign of your tot’s growing independence. So, resist the urge to feed him yourself, knowing that your three-year-old champ is right on track!
Also, by now, your child might be ready to ditch those diapers. You’ll need to watch for signs of “potty readiness” to ascertain this.
Is he asking you to use the toilet? Does he request to wear underwear or ask for a clean diaper? These are all signs that the time is right for proper toilet training!
- You might feel tempted to instruct your little human dynamo to stay still. But allowing him to practice his gross motor skills is important for him to develop even better balance and self-confidence in his abilities.
- Start taking your child out for tricycle rides to build his or her confidence riding outdoors rather than just indoors.
- Practice walking up and down stairs of differing heights and widths to further enhance your child’s gross motor skills.
- Allow him to eat on his own as much as possible. Spread a sheet of plastic under your child’s chair when he is eating so that clean-up is fuss-free.
- When it comes to potty training, don’t expect the magic to happen overnight. It’s quite normal for accidents to happen, and even for your child to go back to wearing diapers. If this happens, just wait it out for a week or two, and try again.
When to Talk to Your Doctor:
Should you notice signs that your child is lagging behind in some skills, you might want to take him or her to the doctor to assess his or her development. These signs include:
- If your child is facing any difficulty with balance and walking
- If he is unable to climb upstairs or low furniture
These skills refer to the development of your child’s mind. As mentioned before, his imagination takes full flight this year. And as he starts to understand and be aware of his surroundings, expect questions… lots and LOTS of questions!
Don’t underestimate your smart three-year-old’s capabilities! He loves helping you around the house, so go ahead and assign them some age-appropriate chores.
Give him some simple instructions like, “Put the toys in the basket, please,” or “Please put those books here.” By assigning such “important” tasks to him, you are boosting his self-esteem and nurturing an important habit early on.
While it’s difficult to identify precise 36-month-old milestones for cognitive development, here are a few:
- Complete simple puzzles
- Remember what happened the day before
- Count to five
- Match objects
- Identify basic shapes
- Follow simple commands
- Pay attention for three to five minutes
- While your little one’s intellectual capabilities have greatly improved compared to a year ago, remember he still has limitations. For example, he may be unable to separate reality from fantasy due to his overactive imagination. He may also have difficulty understanding reasoning. So keep your language and instructions simple while you watch your little one blossom!
- Start buying more sophisticated toys for your child to play with, especially those with puzzles, to keep his cognitive development on the right track.
- Start a journal with your little one, and have him recount what he ate or played with the day before. This will help with boosting his memory!
- When giving your toddler commands, remember not to over-complicate things as your little one may get overwhelmed and frustrated if he can’t carry them out to perfection.
When to Talk to Your Doctor:
- If your child seems disinterested in all types of activities concerning puzzles or matching shapes, then it might be a good idea to refer to a specialist. Children at this age tend to be curious and it is crucial to have this checked out as soon as possible if you suspect something is wrong.
Social and Emotional Development
Among 3-year-old milestones are a few important social skills your little one should pick up around now.
You’ll notice an improvement in how he behaves with peers, such as sharing toys with friends and taking turns. In general, your little one will get along with others much better than around a year ago.
Your child’s imagination is in over-drive at this age too, and you’ll notice this reflected in his play — both when alone and with others. However, this is also the age when those monsters under the bed are made real by your child’s imagination, so do get that “monster spray” ready!
Your 3-year-old has come a long way from the tantrumming tot he was not too long ago. But, you can still expect the occasional outburst or meltdown — and this is completely normal.
Additionally, your little one should be able to show (and understand) a large range of emotions, including anger, joy, fear and sadness.
While your little one is starting to understand his emotions (and those of others) better, he is still learning how to control them. So, if your little one finds something to be even mildly funny, expect hysterical giggles and laughter! Likewise, those tears will flow when something upsets him or makes him angry.
- While your child is much more sociable in his interactions with other kids, there may be traces of that two-year-old rebel still there! So don’t stress if your 36-month-old still doesn’t want to share and play nicely at times. Don’t force him to do these things either — he’ll get there in his own time!
- If your three-year-old throws that tantrum, do you best to not get upset (1,2,3…) and ignore all that drama. Once your little one has calmed down, give him lots of love and cuddles. While it’s up to you to decide on a discipline method that suits you, ensure you’re consistent with what you dole out.
- Expose your child to the different types of emotions out thereby explaining to him what each of the emotions means and how he can overcome them. Though he might not be able to grasp the concept immediately, at least he won’t feel totally lost when a new feeling engulfs him.
When to Talk to Your Doctor:
- If your child is displaying erratic behaviour and extreme bouts of sadness or anger
- If your child seems anti-social or unnaturally quiet
Speech and Language Development
Don’t worry too much if your child is not talking too much yet. You’ll see a huge change in this over the next few months.
A few things your little one might be able to say right now are:
- His name and age
- Simple answers to simple questions
- Simple questions
- Talk more to your child and try to avoid any baby talk.
- When out with friends and family, get your child to respond to their questions by encouraging him.
- If your child doesn’t feel like talking much, don’t force him. Encourage when necessary, but let him warm up to the situation if he seems uncomfortable at first.
When to Talk to Your Doctor:
If you are worried about your child’s speech development, consult your paediatrician to ease your mind. Keep an eye out for these signs:
- If your child is unable to interpret non-verbal communication
- Unwillingness to make eye contact with people
Health and Nutrition
A 3-year-old will need the following calorie intake:
- Boys: 1,487 Kcal/day
- Girls: 1,395 Kcal/day
As your child has just turned three, he will need to eat more solids, while being supplemented by milk to boost their calcium intake. Generally, here’s what he will need to consume to meet his nutritional goals.
Their nutrition should be composed of the following:
Your child needs one serving of protein (in total, around 28g) each day. One serving equals six thick slices of bacon, 3.5 oz of ground beef or 4 hard-boiled eggs.
Your child needs about three (100g) cups of fruits everyday. One cup of fruit equals one cup of fresh, frozen, or canned fruit, half (1/2) cup dried fruit, half (1/2) of a large apple, one eight- or nine-inch banana, or one medium grapefruit.
If your child wants to drink fruit juice, make sure it’s 100 percent juice without added sugars.
At this stage, your child requires 1.5 cups (150g) of vegetables every day. One cup of vegetables equals one cup of cooked or raw vegetables, two cups of raw leafy greens, one large tomato, or two medium carrots.
Aim to provide a variety of vegetables, including dark green, red and orange, beans and peas, starchy and others, each week. When selecting canned or frozen vegetables, look for options lower in sodium.
Make sure to include three ounces of grains each day in your child’s meals. One ounce of grains equals one slice of bread, one cup of ready-to-eat cereal, or half (1/2) cup of cooked pasta or cooked cereal.
Choose whole grains, such as whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, popcorn, quinoa, or brown or wild rice. Limit refined grains such as white bread, pasta and rice.
Your child should drink a minimum of 16 ounces of milk a day. You may also substitute one cup of milk with one cup of yogurt or soy milk , 1½ ounces of natural cheese (around the size of four stacked dice), or two ounces of processed cheese (around the size of five stacked dice).
In a nutshell, here’s what you child needs every day (refer above for what the amounts look like):
- Fruits: 3 cups for boys and girls
- Vegetables: 1.5 cups for boys and girls
- Grains: 3 ounces for boys and girls
- Proteins: 28g for boys and girls
- Milk: 16 ounces for boys and girls
- Water: 1,200mL for boys and girls
Of course, your child’s preferences and appetites may vary, so be sure to keep that in mind when preparing his food.
|Nutrient||Amount Needed Daily||What To Feed Them|
|Calcium & Vitamin D||700 milligrams of calcium and 600 IU (International Units) of vitamin D||2 cups of full fat milk|
|Iron||7 milligrams||4 small beef meatballs with spaghetti, an egg or a small chicken sandwich with baked beans on the side.|
|Vitamin C||No more than 400 milligrams a day||One cup of tomato puree as spaghetti sauce or an orange or a small cup of strawberries|
Vaccinations and Common Illnesses
At this age, your child should already have had these vaccinations:
- four doses of diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP) vaccine
- three doses of inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV)
- three or four doses of Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) vaccine
- one dose of measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine
- three doses of hepatitis B vaccine (HBV), one dose of chickenpox (varicella) vaccine
- two or three doses of rotavirus vaccine (RV)
- four doses of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV, PPSV)
- one or two doses of hepatitis A vaccine (HAV).
- flu vaccine (to be done yearly)
Common illnesses to look out for are the common flu, chicken pox, measles, mumps and possible food allergies.
When to Talk to Your Doctor:
- If you see a sudden change in your child’s weight, that is a red flag.
- A fever at this age can also lead to something serious, so be sure to consult with a doctor if your little one is running a temperature or complains of pain.
Your child’s previous month: 35 months
Your child’s next month: 37 months