Child development and milestones: Your 42-month-old child

At three-and-a-half years old, your little one is even more active, friendly, and constantly learning how to communicate and relate to the world. It's truly an exciting time filled with more memorable milestones!

Your three-year-old is now at the halfway point to their fourth birthday! And there are many 42 month old milestones to get excited about now that your fast developing toddler is well into what they call the “magic years.”

Though they likely haven’t outgrown the tantrums characteristic to the terrible twos, they are starting to be able to manage their emotions and relate to their peers through play. 

Your 3.5-year-old also loves to hop, skip, jump, and explore the world. This sense of wonder has a lot to do with their imagination, which is blossoming just as rapidly as their vocabulary at this age!

Ahead, we take a closer look at 42 month old milestones for each aspect of development to help you get to know your not-so-little one better!

42 Month Old Milestones: A Helpful Guide for Parents 

42 month old milestones

Knowing about 42 month old milestones can greatly help mums and dads guide their little one as they near their 4th birthday! | Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Daily Skills

At 3.5 years old, kids generally have full bladder and bowel control, but the occasional slip-ups are still expected. They can also put their shoes on and they can brush their teeth in both horizontal and vertical motions. At this age, they are beginning to grasp certain aspects of life, like eating healthy and taking safety measures — like not running with scissors or touching hot pans.

They can also be taught to put their toys away and not to snatch toys from other kids. Sharing is a good lesson to learn at this age. 

At 42-months-old and beyond, kids start appreciating being included as part of routines, like grocery shopping and attending special occasions like birthdays. 


  • Allow your child to dress themselves, or go to the bathroom to exercise their independence through self-care. 
  • Include them in meal preparation, giving them easy and safe tasks that don’t involve wielding sharp utensils.
  • But make sure to constantly remind them of safety precautions at home and at school; they’re able to grasp these at this age.

Social and Emotional Skills

Since your child has likely started preschool at this age, they are starting to be more comfortable with interacting with other kids.

When before the age of three they likely preferred parallel play, at 3.5 years old, they become less shy. Your not-so little one is beginning to establish friendships, choosing these connections with peers based on similar interests. 

But at this age, they can also happily play by themselves. Imagination plays a huge role in playtime. 

However, watch out for occasional temper tantrums because they can sill happen at this age, often when things don’t go their way. 


  • Guide them when it comes to building things with their friends, through projects involving blocks, cardboard boxes, and fabric.
  • You can also boost their confidence and independence by asking them to match shoes or socks together. 
  • Play dress-up! Role-playing can help nurture their imagination.
  • In the event of tantrums, your 3.5-year-old can already grasp and express certain emotions. Use this as an opportunity to teach them about how to manage their emotions.
42 month old milestones

One of the most adorable 42 month old milestones is when your kid starts making friends based on similar interests, like swimming! | Image courtesy: Pixabay

Motor Skills

Your 42-month-old just loves running, jumping, hopping, rolling, dancing, and also has basic climbing skills. They can go up the stairs, alternating feet, while holding on to a rail. She can also throw and catch balls with both hands.

Aside from gross motor skills, kids this age are fond of activities that allow them to exercise dexterity, like unbuttoning clothes, stacking blocks and doing puzzles. 


  • Bake a cake with your kid! Empower them to do helpful tasks while guiding them accordingly.
  • Play simple sports like kicking a soccer ball around and aiming for a net.
  • Engage them in activities that can improve dexterity, like arts and crafts.

Language and Cognitive Skills

Your 42-month-old is swiftly learning how to communicate. At this age, she will already have an extensive vocabulary. Your 42-month-old should also be able to learn words easily and incorporate them into sentences. 

Grammar skills are also flourishing at this age. Verb tense, subject-verb agreement? Your child is getting the hang of these, too. 

42 month old milestones

One of the greatest 42 month old milestones is a flourishing, extensive vocabulary! | Image courtesy: Shutterstock

At 3.5 years old, kids can recognise numbers and distinguish them from letters. Though they might get confused by series of numbers and letters, their greatly improving memory should help them effectively recognise and repeat them back to you. 

When it comes to their surroundings, 42-month-olds are becoming increasingly aware of how to distinguish and name objects. They can also identify patterns, and even grasp the concept of how things can grow and change — like how seeds can grow into flowers.


  • Communicate with your child by talking about how their day went. You can also play listening games like “Simon Says…”
  • Constantly ask them questions about daily tasks or experiences at school to exercise their ability to explain things.
  • Give them simple instructions with proper guidance, like where to put their toys away or how to wipe down a table after meals.

3 1/2-Year-Old Child Development: When To Be Concerned

It’s important to know that kids develop at their own pace. Just because your child isn’t hitting these 42 month old milestones, it doesn’t meant there is something wrong or that they will always be lagging behind their peers.

But to be safe, consult your child’s paediatrician if you notice the following: 

  • Your child is extremely clingy. He refuses to be separated from  mum, dad, or any other caregiver.
  • Your child struggles with forming sentences.
  • Your child can’t perform daily tasks they previously were able to do.

We hope this article on three-and-a-half year old child development is useful in keeping track of your little one’s milestones! 


Sources: Livestrong, United Psychological Services, Foundation Years UK

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