All children have their own timetable, but you can watch for certain developments in your 3-year-old. Celebrate with your child as she reaches or nears these milestones.


- Correctly names as many as eight colors

- Understands the concept of counting; knows some numbers

- Sense of time improves (now, later, next)

- Remembers parts of stories

- Understands the concepts of same and different

- Explores cause and effect

- Likes to classify and organize objects (by size, color); sees patterns

- Does six- to eight-piece puzzles

- Identifies some signs and labels

- Uses role play (“You be the baby, and I’ll be the mommy.”)

- Likes fantasy play, beyond the pretend play that imitates everyday life (princesses and pirates)

- Still confuses fantasy and reality

- Follows three-part commands


- Moves effortlessly (walking, running, jumping)

- Walks forward and backward

- Rides a tricycle

- Navigates stairs without support

- Catches a large ball

- Throws a small ball overhand

- Stands on one foot for five seconds

- Holds a crayon or pencil like an adult

- Draws a person with two to four body parts

- Uses scissors

- Copies some capital letters

- Dresses and undresses self

- Almost all have mastered potty training by age 4


- Likely knows 300 words by age 3

- Speaks in sentences of three to four or more words

- Usually speaks without repeating words or syllables

- Imitates most adult speech sounds but still mispronounces many words

- Probably chatters continuously

- Speaks clearly enough to be understood by strangers

- Tells stories

- Follows many basic rules of grammar

- Uses the words “I,” “me,” “mine,” and “you,” though not always perfectly


- Very interested in new experiences

- Shows preferences for certain children

- Plays with (not just next to) other kids

- May have imaginary friends

- Plays house as the mom or dad

- Understands basic turn-taking

- Understands the concept of possessives (mine, his, hers)

- May express anger or frustration by hitting or throwing

- May show fear of unfamiliar sounds or sights (monsters)

- Negotiates solutions to problems with parents and other kids

- Views self as whole person with body, mind, and feelings

- Increasingly independent

- May ask questions about birth and death


“Caring for Your Baby and Young Child, Birth to Age 5 (5th Ed)” by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“The Wonder Years: Helping Your Baby and Young Child Successfully Negotiate the Major Developmental Milestones” by the American Academy of Pediatrics.