Child Development, Year 3

Development milestones in the third year (24 to 36 months)


August 18, 2022

Apart from seeing your child run and jump around, in between months 24 and 36, you will notice that they will become more social and interact with more of their peers. During the third year of your child’s development, your child’s emotional growth develops enough for them to understand other people’s emotions making them capable of empathy. 

They are learning to communicate their thoughts and feelings with their thoughts as well as body language. They are absorbing a lot of information from the environment around them. Every child learns and grows at their own pace but there are some general milestones that a child is expected to reach within this age. 

There are various environmental factors that will impact a child’s ability to reach their growth milestones. As a parent, you can provide them with the needed attention and care that they will need during this period to aid their development. Some of the expected growth milestones for children in their third year are:

Speech and Language 

Your child will start to speak in longer sentences and hold up simple conversations with you. Their words are becoming clearer, even to strangers. 

You will need to be very patient because they will start to ask a ton of questions. Everything that you say will be questioned with a “what” and a “why” and maybe sometimes a “when” and even a “whose”. In order to help them engage in the conversation and prompt their thought process you should also ask them simple “wh” questions. 

Emotional abilities 

One major development that happens in your baby this year is the ability to empathize. Your baby will be aware of your feelings and understand when you are upset and angry. It is recommended that you refrain from showing negative emotions around your children when you are angry or upset with your partner. 

They are new to certain emotions and might not find the right words to describe how they feel at that moment. This might mean that they throw tantrums when they cannot do that. 

Social skill

Does your child run towards you and give you a hug when you come back home from work? By now, your little baby should be able to express their emotions whether they are happy, sad or mad. 

They have learnt to stay separate from you during the day with someone else taking care of them. With some difficulty, you might even be able to leave them under someone else’s care and go to work during the day. 

Remember that even though your baby can take care of themselves to a certain extent, the more that you are involved in their growth, the more they will feel supported to learn. Always be verbal and communicative about whatever they are doing. Talk to them whenever you can and get involved in the games that they are playing. When you are involved in what they do, they feel loved. 

Motor skills

From just a few months back, your baby can now sit alongside you at the dinner table and eat most of their food without making much mess. If you can compare to before, they will have a much better grasp of their spoon and their sippy cups. Don’t expect them to have any spills at all but they don’t need as much help from you as they used to.  

If you love playing outdoor games, you can have a great time teaching your child how to play. By now, they can grab and catch a ball on their own and kick it as well. They have developed the ability to use their wrist to turn the handles of the door. If your baby loves to read, you might even catch them turning the pages of their books on their own by the end of the third year. 

At this age, babies need to be under constant supervision by their parents or their caretaker because they are very actively moving around. They can twist and pull cabinet doors and drawers on their own which might be impressive given that they are completely safe while doing that. With their general preference of using one hand over the other, you will also be able to figure out if they are right or left-handed by the time they are age three. 

Cognitive Development

Ever wonder what is going on in your little one’s mind? Well, no one can say for sure but what is surely happening is that they are understanding the concept of time. You might even be able to understand this through their ability to use “tense” while they are explaining things to you. 

Your baby is becoming more capable of associating memories and experiences with people, places, and things due to their improving memory. Slowly they will be capable of not just storing but processing information and making decisions off on it. 

They will be thinking constantly and their minds are constantly wandering. As a result, you will have to answer many questions that you might feel are redundant or even unnecessary at times. So, remember that patience is key while dealing with children and that they want nothing else but to understand better how the world works. 

Apart from these developments, you will see that a three year old will start to get more comfortable around other children. Expect your child to create stories and pretend play. 

Concerning Development levels

Every child develops at their own pace. However, there are some milestones that a baby is expected to reach by the time that they reach a certain age. It is recommended that you speak to your health care provider if your child has a problem completing these simple tasks. 

  • Can’t solve simple puzzles
  • Can’t twist open a door 
  • Avoids eye contact
  • Doesn’t balance properly and falls down 
  • Dislikes playing with either toys or other children
  • Doesn’t understand instructions longer than 2 steps
  • Starts to lose the ability to do things that they previously could complete
  • Doesn’t speak in complete sentences


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