Important Milestones: Your child by 3 Years
Check the milestones your child has reached by the end of 3 years by completing a checklist with CDC’s free Milestone Tracker mobile app, for ios and Android devices, or by printing the checklist below. Take the checklist with you and talk with your child’s doctor at every visit about the milestones your child has reached and what to expect next.
What most babies do by this age:
Social and Emotional
- Copies adults and friends
- Shows affection for friends without prompting
- Takes turns in games
- Shows concern for crying friend
- Understands the idea of “mine” and “his” or “hers”
- Shows a wide range of emotions
- Separates easily from mom and dad
- May get upset with major changes in routine
- Dresses and undresses self
- Follows instructions with 2 or 3 steps
- Can name most familiar things
- Understands words like “in,” “on,” and “under”
- Says first name, age, and sex
- Names a friend
- Says words like “I,” “me,” “we,” and “you” and some plurals (cars, dogs, cats)
- Talks well enough for strangers to understand most of the time
- Carries on a conversation using 2 to 3 sentences
Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving)
- Can work toys with buttons, levers, and moving parts
- Plays make-believe with dolls, animals, and people
- Does puzzles with 3 or 4 pieces
- Understands what “two” means
- Copies a circle with pencil or crayon
- Turns book pages one at a time
- Builds towers of more than 6 blocks
- Screws and unscrews jar lids or turns door handle
- Climbs well
- Runs easily
- Pedals a tricycle (3-wheel bike)
- Walks up and down stairs, one foot on each step
Act early by talking to your child’s doctor if your child:
- Falls down a lot or has trouble with stairs
- Drools or has very unclear speech
- Can’t work simple toys (such as peg boards, simple puzzles, turning handle)
- Doesn’t speak in sentences
- Doesn’t understand simple instructions
- Doesn’t play pretend or make-believe
- Doesn’t want to play with other children or with toys
- Doesn’t make eye contact
- Loses skills he once had
Positive Parenting Tips
- Set up a special time to read books with your toddler.
- Encourage your child to take part in pretend play.
- Play parade or follow the leader with your toddler.
- Help your child to explore things around her by taking her on a walk or wagon ride.
- Encourage your child to tell you his name and age.
- Teach your child simple songs like Itsy Bitsy Spider, or other cultural childhood rhymes.
- Give your child attention and praise when she follows instructions and shows positive behavior and limit attention for defiant behavior like tantrums. Teach your child acceptable ways to show that she’s upset.
Child Safety First
Because your child is moving around more, he will come across more dangers as well. Dangerous situations can happen quickly, so keep a close eye on your child. Here are a few tips to help keep your growing toddler safe:
- Do NOT leave your toddler near or around water (for example, bathtubs, pools, ponds, lakes, whirlpools, or the ocean) without someone watching her. Fence off backyard pools. Drowning is the leading cause of injury and death among this age group.
- Block off stairs with a small gate or fence. Lock doors to dangerous places such as the garage or basement.
- Ensure that your home is toddler proof by placing plug covers on all unused electrical outlets.
- Keep kitchen appliances, irons, and heaters out of reach of your toddler. Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove.
- Keep sharp objects such as scissors, knives, and pens in a safe place.
- Lock up medicines, household cleaners, and poisons.
- Do NOT leave your toddler alone in any vehicle (that means a car, truck, or van) even for a few moments.
- Store any guns in a safe place out of his reach.
- Keep your child’s car seat rear-facing as long as possible. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration it’s the best way to keep her safe. Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by the car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, she is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.
- Talk with staff at your child care provider to see if they serve healthier foods and drinks, and if they limit television and other screen time.
- Your toddler might change what food she likes from day to day. It’s normal behavior, and it’s best not to make an issue of it. Encourage her to try new foods by offering her small bites to taste.
- Keep television sets out of your child’s bedroom. Set limits for screen time for your child to no more than 1 hour per day of quality programming, at home, school, or afterschool care and develop a media use plan for your family
- Encourage free play as much as possible. It helps your toddler stay active and strong and helps him develop motor skills.
- Make sure your child gets the recommended amount of sleep each night: For toddlers 1-2 years, 11–14 hours per 24 hours (including naps)