Developmental Milestones by the End of 3 Years

Climbs well
Walks up and down stairs, alternating feet
Kicks ball
Runs easily
Pedals tricycle
Bends over easily without falling
Hand and Finger Skills
Makes vertical, horizontal and circular strokes with pencil or crayon
Turns book pages one at a time
Builds a tower of more than six blocks
Holds a pencil in writing position
Screws and unscrews jar lids, nuts and bolts
Turns rotating handles
Follows a two- or three-component command
Recognizes and identifies almost all common objects and pictures
Understands most sentences
Understands physical relationships (“on,” “in,” “under”)
Uses four- and five-word sentences
Can say name, age and sex
Uses pronouns (I, you, me, we, they) and some plurals (cars, dogs, cats)
Strangers can understand most of her words
Makes mechanical toys work
Matches an object in her hand or room to a picture in a book
Plays make-believe with dolls, animals and people
Sorts objects by shape and color
Completes puzzles with three or four pieces
Understands concept of “two”
Imitates adults and playmates
Spontaneously shows affection for familiar playmates
Can take turns in games
Understands concept of “mine” and “his/hers”
Expresses affection openly
Expresses a wide range of emotions
By 3, separates easily from parents
Objects to major changes in routine
Developmental Health Watch
The developmental milestones give you a general idea of the changes you can expect as your child gets older, but don’t be alarmed if her development takes a slightly different course. Each child develops at her own pace. Do consult your pediatrician, however, if your child displays any of the following signs of possible developmental delay for this age range.

Frequent falling and difficulty with stairs
Persistent drooling or very unclear speech
Inability to build a tower of more than four blocks
Difficulty manipulating small objects
Inability to copy a circle by age 3
Inability to communicate in short phrases
No involvement in “pretend” play
Failure to understand simple instructions
Little interest in other children
Extreme difficulty separating from mother

Excerpted from Caring for Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5, Bantam 1999
© Copyright 2000 American Academy of Pediatrics

This information has been created for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical advice. It should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If your child has any health concerns, please consult your health care provider.