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3 Year Milestones Checklist

My Child is 3 Years Old: What should he/she be able to do?

All of a sudden you have a 3 year old and now may be starting to think about school for your child...where has the time gone? Here are the things you should expect your child to do by 3 years of age.

By 3 years of age, your child should be able to:

Gross Motor/Physical Movement

  • Can climb well and run easily

  • Can ride a tricycle or bike with training wheels

  • Can walk up and down stairs one foot at a time (with less and less use of the rail)

Fine Motor/Hand-Eye Coordination

  • Can get themselves dressed with a little help

  • Can work toys with buttons, levers, and moving parts

  • Can draw a circle with pencil or crayon (although still not a perfect circle)

  • Can turn book pages one at a time

  • Can build a tower of more than 6 blocks

  • Can open easy packages (plastic bags) or turn door handles


  • Copy adults and friends

  • Show affection toward friends

  • Play with friends, share, and take turns in games

  • Show concern for a crying sibling, friend, or familiar person

  • Show a wide range of emotions

  • Separate easily from parents (but may still get upset with major changes in routine)


  • Can name a friend and most familiar things

  • Know first name, age, and sex

  • Use words like “I,” “we,” and “you” appropriately, most of the time

  • Talk well enough for strangers to understand most of what they say

  • Have a conversation using 2-3 word sentences

Cognitive/ Learning & Problem-solving)

  • Understand “mine” and “his” or “hers”

  • Can follow 2-3 step commands ("pick up the toy and put in the box" or "get your shoes and bring them to me")

  • Can complete puzzles with 3 or 4 pieces

If your child is 3 years old and is doing all of these things, great!!

Tips to Help Your Child Reach Their 3 Year Milestones

  • Play time: Continue to let your child to play with toys and explore indoors and outdoors as regularly as possible. Engage with your child by explaining things around them and showing them how things work. Encourage them to try things on their own more and more and let them explore on their own (while still supervising).

  • New activities: Children are still mostly learning through play at this age. Try new activities with your child, such as painting, water play, or tactile play (can be as simple as playing with clay, sand, or letting them play with and mix flour in a bowl with a spoon). Get creative and choose things that you and your child will enjoy. Don't be afraid to let them get a little messy (or take the activity outdoors or in a contained area with a dropcloth or inside of a box/play area), this only adds to their fun.

  • Talk and respond: Talk to your child as much as possible in plain language. The more language your child hears, the more he/she will pick up as they begin to learn to talk. Respond when your child talks to continue to encourage social and conversational skills. Help to expand your child's vocabulary by pointing to things and stating what the object is and by explaining the world around them, in general.

  • Read: Continue to read books to your child. Your child will be more engaged in the story now and may have some favorites. Indulge your child a little in reading the same book a couple or times or daily to encourage their delight in reading, storytime, and learning.

When to Be Worried

If your child is already 3 years of age and is not meeting these milestones, talk to your child’s pediatrician. You know your child better than anyone else. If you are concerned your child may have a delay in his/her development, it is better to intervene sooner rather than later. This gives your child the best chance of catching up to his/her peers by the time he or she reaches school age.

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All content on this website, including medical opinion and any other health-related information is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this website and the information contained does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor before starting any specific treatment plan.

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