Milestones for a Three Year Old
Updated: May 22
Article by: Dorie Pearson, OTR, ADHD-CCSP
Here is a quick look at common milestones in children three years of age. Determine if your child is developing at a similar rate as their peers.
Milestones of a 3-year-old
How your child plays, learns, speaks, interacts with others, and moves offers important clues about your child’s development. Developmental milestones are things most children can do by a certain age. The following list provides milestones that most children have reached by their 3rd birthday. If you feel your child may be behind, speak with your pediatrician about your concerns and find out if a referral for therapy would benefit your child. Our pediatric occupational, physical, and speech therapists are here to help your children grow and develop the skills they need to be successful.
“For a small child there is no division between playing and learning; between the things he or she does ‘just for fun’ and things that are ‘educational.’ The child learns while living and any part of living that is enjoyable is also play.” ~ Penelope Leach
Speech and Language Skills:
Says about 1,000 words
Speaks in sentences
Speech is 75% intelligible
Social Emotional Skills:
Shows affection for friends
Imitates actions of adults and peers
Shows a wide range of emotions
Separates easily from caregivers
Fine Motor Skills:
Unbuttons large buttons
Works 3-4 piece puzzles
Copies a circle
Turns buttons, levers, and knobs on toys
Gross Motor Skills:
Walks up and down stairs
Rides a tricycle
Hops on one foot
Tolerates a wide range of textures of foods
Pays attention for 3 minutes
Enjoys messy play
Settles self down to sleep at night
Takes clothing on and off
Uses utensils with little spillage
Cleans up toys
Puts shoes on and off
Helpful hints for your child’s development:
To encourage your child’s language skills try the following: Speak to the child slightly above their level, read to them daily, encourage them to name pictures in books and in your environments, sing songs, and talk to them about daily life activities.
To develop fine motor skills try the following: Color with small pieces of crayon or chalk to develop proper grasp patterns, string Fruit loops or Cheerios, work 3-4 piece puzzles, place coins in a piggy bank, practice buttoning large buttons.
To develop gross motor skills: Give your child lots of opportunities to climb, jump and play outside. Practice going up and down stairs, standing on one foot, and propelling ride-on toys
Sensory Development: Let your child get messy, feel textures and explore his/her world. Try playing in shaving cream in the bathtub and copying lines and circles. Go for a treasure hunt using containers of rice, sand, or beans with little treasures hidden inside.
Act early by talking to your child’s doctor if your child:
Falls down a lot or has trouble with stairs
Drools or has very unclear speech
Can’t work simple toys (such as peg boards, simple puzzles, turning handle)
Doesn’t speak in sentences
Doesn’t understand simple instructions
Doesn’t play pretend or make-believe
Doesn’t want to play with other children or with toys
Continuously has problems with calming down
Doesn’t make eye contact
Loses skills he once had
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children be screened for general development at 9, 18, and 24 or 30 months and for Autism at 18 and 24 months or whenever a parent or provider has a concern.
Have more questions about your child and their milestones? Contact us at Texarkana Therapy Center or try our online screening tool. You will be given a survey of age-appropriate milestones for speech, language, gross motor skills, fine motor skills and sensory processing for children ages 1-6.