The way your child learns, plays, and acts shows you important steps in development. All children grow and develop at their own rate. However, most follow a predictable skill path along the way. These skill paths are called developmental milestones; skills that most children can perform by a certain age. Refer to the checklist below to determine what milestones your child has completed by three years of age.

By three years most children: 

Fine Motor (skills that require balance and movement of small muscle groups)

_ String several beads, or pasta tubes onto a string or shoelace.

_ Draw a circle after watching you draw one.

_ Draw a line from one side of the paper to the other and from top to bottom after watching you.

_ Hold a crayon with fingers and thumb like an adult.


Cognitive (memory, problem solving, thinking, and overall play)

_ Line up blocks to make a train after watching you.

_ Find a chair or something to stand on if they cannot reach an object.

_ Complete puzzles with four or five pieces.

_ Can turn over a book if it is handed to them upside down.

_ Play pretend with toys such as dolls, animals, or people.



_ Follow directions with two or three steps “Put your cup on the table and get your shoes.”

_ Say their first name or nickname when asked.

_ Say words like “I”, “me”, “you”, and uses some plurals (cats, shoes, dogs).

_ Have a conversation using at least three sentences.

_ Are understood most of the time.



_ Separate from a familiar person in a new environment for five minutes (can’t see parents).

_ Answer correctly when asked if they are a girl or a boy.

_ Take turns with adults and other children.


Gross Motor

_ Stand on one foot and balance for about one second.

_ Throw a ball overhand.

_ Jump forward with both feet together (like a bunny).

_ Walk up the stairs with alternating feet like an adult.



_ Eat independently with a fork, spoon, and open cup.

_ Use gestures or words to use the bathroom.

_ Go to the bathroom independently except for wiping.

_ Wash and dry hands independently.

_ Put on a coat, dress or t-shirt without help.

_ Undo shoelaces or large buttons.

Talk to your doctor or contact an early intervention program in your community if you notice any of the following signs of a developmental delay in your child three years of age:

_ Drools or is difficult to understand when talking.

_ Can’t work simple toys (peg boards, turning handles, simple puzzles).

_ Doesn’t speak in sentences or follow directions.

_ Doesn’t want to play with other children.

_ Loss of skills.

ASQ. Ages and Stages Questionnaires, Third Edition (ASQ – 3)

CDD. Centers for Disease Control <>

D’Eugenio, Diane and Rogers, Sally J. Early Intervention Developmental Profile (EIDP). 1981. University of Michigan.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to content