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Important Milestones: By The End Of 3 Years

Babies develop at their own pace, so it's impossible to tell exactly when your child will learn a given skill. The developmental milestones listed below will give you a general idea of the changes you can expect, but don't be alarmed if your own baby's development takes a slightly different course.


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


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"


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


Walks up and down stairs, alternating feet (one foot per stair step)
Kicks ball
Runs easily
Pedals tricycle
Bends over easily without falling

Hand and Finger Skills

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

Developmental Health Watch

Alert your child's doctor or nurse if your child displays any of the following signs of possible developmental delay for this age range.
Persistent drooling or very unclear speech
Cannot build a tower of more than four blocks
Difficulty manipulating small objects
Cannot copy a circle by age 3
Cannot communicate in short phrases
No involvement in "pretend" play
Does not understand simple instructions
Little interest in other children
Extreme difficulty separating from mother or primary caregiver
Poor eye contact
Limited interest in toys
Experiences a dramatic loss of skills he or she once

Content source: National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities,CDC Act Early Informational Material,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

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