3 Years Old: Milestones & Development

3 Years Old: Milestones & Development

Just look at them go! Three year old toddlers might seem to have no “off” switch, but trust us when we say all this activity is absolute gold when it comes to their learning and development.
If you’re running out of things to do at home, this age is a great time to get started (if you haven’t already) in some regular group activity like gymnastics, soccer, swimming class, or an arts and crafts session.

Three year olds might show a little hesitation when introduced to a new scenario, but they’ll take to it quickly when they’re having fun!

What else should you know about raising a three year old? Keep reading, mama!

In this article: 📝

  • What milestones should a three year old have?
  • What should a 3 year old be able to do?
  • What is typical behavior for a 3 year old?
  • What should a 3 year old be able to say?
  • What should a 3 year old know?
  • What should I be teaching my 3 year old?

What milestones should a three year old have?

As ever, when it comes to milestones, this is a guide only and shouldn’t be taken as gospel.

One thing you’ll know by now is that your three year old has a very definite personality, so it’s understandable that they might do things a little differently than their friends.

Having said that, there’s no harm in asking your doctor for advice if you’re concerned about your toddler’s development.

What should a 3 year old be able to do?

Physically, your three year old is developing in leaps and bounds — literally!

They will confidently be able to walk, run, jump, skip, and probably hop.

They might enjoy walking along a low balance beam, riding a tricycle, and climbing stairs without help, and will be able to walk backward, too.

Their non-stop physical activity is helping them improve their balance and coordination, so it’s all good (albeit slightly exhausting)!

🎂 You might also like: 12 Birthday Party Ideas for 3 Year Olds

What is typical behavior for a 3 year old?

At three years of age, your little one’s social and emotional development is picking up, and they’ll be able to show empathy and provide comfort to others when they’re sad or hurt.

They’ll be forging friendships and may begin to play more interactively by taking turns, although understanding the concept of sharing is still a bit tricky for them.

It’s also normal at this age for them to develop a fear — be it of the dark, the toilet, or loud noises.

This is because their imagination is coming to life, which can be fun (say hello to their new imaginary friend) but it also means they can have a hard time distinguishing between reality and fantasy.

Don’t miss: Activities for 3 Year Olds: 20 Ideas

What should a 3 year old be able to say?

By this age, they’ll probably have at least 300 words in their vocabulary, and not only that, they’ll probably make sense when they talk now, too!

Say bye-bye to that adorable baby babble!

They’ll be speaking in sentences of three to five words and will love reciting their name and age, familiar nursery rhymes, and using “Please” and “Thank you” at the right times.

What should a 3 year old know?

3 year old brains are busy absorbing absolutely everything around them, so they are picking up new words, actions, and skills every day.

Their love for the word “Why?” isn’t going anywhere, so keep up all the good work you’re doing helping them understand the world around them by answering their questions.

Their memory is developing, so they will start having an understanding of time (like yesterday, today, and tomorrow) and will have the alphabet and numbers one to 10 perfected by the time they’re four.

Their attention span is also increasing, so they may be able to concentrate on a task like drawing, stacking blocks, or sorting toys for around eight minutes. They’ll also be able to confidently identify shapes and colors.

What should I be teaching my 3 year old?

Independence is the name of the game for most three year olds, so allowing them to dress themselves, feed themselves with a fork or spoon, drink from a regular cup, and help with chores will boost their self-esteem.

When it comes to getting dressed, laying out two easy outfit options for them to choose from will mean you both get what you want.

You might also be tackling potty training, if you haven’t already.

Where has your baby gone?!

And to finish off, here are some answers to common questions about three year olds…

How much sleep does a 3 year old need?

Most three year olds will still need one nap, although the length will vary from child to child, and some days they might skip the nap, preferring some quiet time instead.

Most three year olds will need 11-13 hours of sleep in total over 24 hours.

How much should a 3 year old weigh?

This varies hugely, but the average weight for a three year old boy is 32 lbs, and it’s 30 lbs for girls.

You may expect your three year old to gain four to six pounds this year and grow in height by two to three inches.

How do I deal with my 3 year old’s attitude?

Consistency when it comes to discipline is key, so try to use the same approach to every tantrum or meltdown.

Teaching your three year old emotional vocabulary (words like “I’m sad” or “I’m angry”) might help them express their feelings.

If you’re struggling to get them to do as they’re asked, it may be a case of rephrasing the way you interact.

For example, before dinner, “Wash your hands now, please” may get a better reaction than asking “Can you wash your hands now, please?”

Similarly, they might be more willing to comply with your request if they feel like they are in control.

Asking them whether they want to wear a pink or yellow T-shirt today might result in less resistance than just trying to get them to wear the yellow T-shirt.

It sure is a game of give and take, and some days you might just feel like you’re on the losing team.

But just in case you weren’t sure, you are absolutely doing the right things, mama.

Keep going, you got this!

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