Important Milestones: By the End of 3 Years (36 Months)
As your child turns three years old, he or she may be climbing on objects or taking turns when playing with other children. You may also see your child playing make-believe. Use the “Learn the Signs. Act Early” fact sheet to find out what usually happens when a child is three years old. You can also use the information in the fact sheet to talk with your child's doctor about the growth and development milestones.
The following fact sheet is provided courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control’s "Learn the Signs. Act Early." Campaign.
Children develop at their own pace, so it's impossible to tell exactly when yours will learn a given skill. The developmental milestones below will give you a general idea of the changes you can expect as your child gets older, but don't be alarmed if your child takes a slightly different course.
- 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
- 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"
- Follows a two- or three-part command
- Recognizes and identifies almost all common objects and pictures
- Understands most sentences
- Understands placement in space ("on," "in," "under")
- Uses 4- to 5-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
- Climbs well
- Walks up and down stairs, alternating feet (one foot per stair step)
- Kicks ball
- Runs easily
- Pedals tricycle
- Bends over easily without falling
- Makes up-and-down, side-to-side, and circular lines 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
From CARING FOR YOUR BABY AND YOUNG CHILD: BIRTH TO AGE 5 by Steven Shelov, Robert E. Hannermann, © 1991, 1993, 1998, 2004 by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Used by permission of Bantam Books, a division of Random House, Inc.
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Important Milestones: By the End of 3 Years (36 Months) [PDF, 144KB]
Last Reviewed: December 2010
Last Updated: September 5, 2014