Developmental Milestones 3 years old
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 his/her words

  • Makes mechanical toys work
  • Matches an object in his/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 his/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

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