Important Milestones: Your Child By Three Years

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How your child plays, learns, speaks, acts, and moves offers important clues about your child’s development. Developmental milestones are things most children can do by a certain age.

Check the milestones your child has reached by the end of 3 years by completing a checklist with CDC’s free Milestone Tracker mobile app, for iOSexternal icon and Androidexternal icon devices, or by printing the checklist pdf icon[321 KB, 2 Pages, Print Only] below. Take the checklist with you and talk with your child’s doctor at every visit about the milestones your child has reached and what to expect next.

What most children do by this age:

Social and Emotional
Language/Communication
Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving)
  • Can work toys with buttons, levers, and moving parts camera
  • Plays make-believe with dolls, animals, and people camera
  • Does puzzles with 3 or 4 pieces camera
  • Understands what “two” means
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  • Copies a circle with pencil or crayon camera
  • Turns book pages one at a time camera
  • Builds towers of more than 6 blocks camera
  • Screws and unscrews jar lids or turns door handle camera
Movement/Physical Development

 

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
  • Doesn’t make eye contact
  • Loses skills he once had
If You’re Concerned – Act Early

Tell your child’s doctor or nurse if you notice any of these signs of possible developmental delay for this age, and talk with someone in your community who is familiar with services for young children in your area, such as your state’s public early intervention program. For more information, visit our “If You’re Concerned” web page or call 1-800-CDC-INFO.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children be screened for general development using standardized, validated tools 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. Ask your child’s doctor about your child’s developmental screening.

“Learn the signs. Act early.” materials are not a substitute for standardized, validated developmental screening tools pdf icon[918 KB, 115 Pages, Print Only]external icon.

Adapted from CARING FOR YOUR BABY AND YOUNG CHILD: BIRTH TO AGE 5, Fifth Edition, edited by Steven Shelov and Tanya Remer Altmann © 1991, 1993, 1998, 2004, 2009 by the American Academy of Pediatrics and BRIGHT FUTURES: GUIDELINES FOR HEALTH SUPERVISION OF INFANTS, CHILDREN, AND ADOLESCENTS, Third Edition, edited by Joseph Hagan, Jr., Judith S. Shaw, and Paula M. Duncan, 2008, Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.