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A Blog from Your Kaiser Permanente Pediatricians in Northern California

Three-year-olds dancing

Your 3-Year-Old

This is a magical time of development. Your 3-year-old child is literally growing by leaps and bounds. They’re becoming more independent from you and more social. They’re interested in other children. They’ll soon be able to handle toileting and care of their body. They’ll be more coordinated and able to play complex games. With this explosion of skills, imagination, and energy you may find that it’s a great time to consider preschool or a playgroup.

Three-year-olds are so curious! Expect to be asked about everything. You can ask questions in return. At this age, children should begin to know whether they’re a boy or girl and how old they are. They can tell you when they’re hungry or tired. You can teach them the concepts of big and little, behind, next to, above, and under. Have fun with this burst of understanding and learning!

Most children at this age can:

  • Wash and dry hands
  • Brush teeth (but you’ll still need to scrub after them)
  • Name a friend
  • Jump
  • Have speech that is mostly understandable

Your child may be ready to:

  • Name at least 1 color
  • Ride a tricycle
  • Balance on each foot for 1 second
  • Copy a circle or a cross
  • Dress
  • Feed themselves (not necessarily neatly!)

Remember, all children develop at their own pace. So, if your little one isn’t doing all these things just yet, you’ll likely see them soon. If you’re concerned about your child’s development, talk to your pediatrician at your next well-child visit, or send an email with your question anytime.

Resources for parents

American Academy of Pediatrics:
Toddler Growth & Development

My Doctor Online:
Normal Growth and Development: Infants and Toddlers
Your Child’s Growth and Development

Disclaimer: If you have an emergency medical condition, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. An emergency medical condition is any of the following: (1) a medical condition that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) such that you could reasonably expect the absence of immediate medical attention to result in serious jeopardy to your health or body functions or organs; (2) active labor when there isn't enough time for safe transfer to a Plan hospital (or designated hospital) before delivery, or if transfer poses a threat to your (or your unborn child's) health and safety, or (3) a mental disorder that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity such that either you are an immediate danger to yourself or others, or you are not immediately able to provide for, or use, food, shelter, or clothing, due to the mental disorder. This information is not intended to diagnose health problems or to take the place of specific medical advice or care you receive from your physician or other health care professional. If you have persistent health problems, or if you have additional questions, please consult with your doctor. If you have questions or need more information about your medication, please speak to your pharmacist. Kaiser Permanente does not endorse the medications or products mentioned. Any trade names listed are for easy identification only.