Your Child’s Third Year

Development during your child's third year is critical in future success. And while every child learns movements at an individual rate, developmental delays may cause concern and hardship. Use our guide below to see what milestones your child should be reaching at every age during the third year. Milestones listed at each stage carry on through each subsequent phase of development (i.e. skills at 30 months should be present at 36 months).

Toddler Milestones – 24 to 30 Months

Gross Motor Skills

  • Standing on one foot with hands on hips
  • Walking upstairs using two feet on each stair
  • Jumping 24 inches both forward and down

Fine Motor Skills / Visual Motor Skills

  • Established hand preference
  • Grasping a cup with one hand without spilling
  • Grasping spoon and turning hand to bring to mouth
  • Turning pages 1 at a time
  • Building a tower using 8 cubes
  • Folding paper in half
  • Cutting on line
  • Turning door knobs and jar lids
  • Stringing half inch beads
  • Recognizing outline of familiar pictures

Self-care

  • Beginning to brush teeth if adult puts paste on and does the main brushing
  • Undressing self with only help with fasteners and pullovers with narrow necks

Speech and Communication Skills

  • Vocabulary grows from 100 words 450 words.
  • Using 2-3 word phrases
  • Speech is 50-75% understandable
  • Making the following sounds: “b”, “m”, “p”, “d”, “t”, “h”
  • Using pronouns (my, me, mine, you) in phrases

FUN FACT: On average, a 2-year old’s vocabulary increases by 5 words every day.*

Oral Motor and Feeding

  • Biting and chewing foods of various thickness
  • Moving from drinking from a bottle to drinking from an open cup without spilling
  • Beginning to use a fork
  • A highchair is no longer needed

Sensory and Sleeping

  • 11-14 hours of sleep per day with one 2-hour nap during the day time
  • May resist going to sleep
  • Cuddling is very good at calming during this age
  • Tolerating new fabrics in clothing
  • Tolerating a variety of smells and noises
  • Tolerating haircuts without meltdowns

TIP: A weighted blanket may help to calm and de-escalate a meltdown. 

Understanding and Thinking Skills

  • Consistently following 2-step directions will become common
  • Understanding and answering “where” and “what” questions will become consistent
  • Grouping toys by size, shape, and color

Social / Play

  • Pretend play and sharing toys with other children and adults
  • Following adult-directed tasks
  • Consistently greeting familiar and unfamiliar people

FUN FACT: Toddlers are always learning behavior by watching people. Many of their behaviors (both positive and negative) are learned by watching others

Best Toys at This Age

  • Bubbles
  • Balls
  • Simple puzzles
  • Blocks
  • Playdoh

Red Flags for Development

  • Regressing physical skills
  • Not jumping with feet together
  • Complaining of pain with activities
  • Difficulty holding a cup or spoon
  • Difficulty chewing a variety of textures
  • Difficulty tolerating different textures in clothing, foods, and toys
  • Talking in phrases that are less than 2 words long
  • Not labeling common objects
  • Having a small vocabulary
  • Not producing “m”, “b”, “p”, “d”, “h”
  • Limited eye contact with other people

Toddler Milestones – 30 to 36 Months

Gross Motor Skills

  • Standing on one foot with hands on hips
  • Walking upstairs shifts from using two feet on each stair to alternating feet
  • Jumping will increase to 24 inches both forward and down
  • Riding a tricycle
  • Climbing up rock wall independently
  •  

Fine Motor Skills / Visual Motor Skills

  • Completing simple 3-piece puzzle
  • Matching identical pictures
  • Copying drawing circles
  • Pouring liquid from one container directly into another
  • Holding a fork with a fist
  • Building a 9-block tower
  • Making continuous cuts with child-safe scissors

Self-care

  • Beginning to brush teeth with help from adult to put paste on brush and do main brushing
  • Dressing self with help with fasteners only
  • Putting shoes on with little assistance
  • Potty training is almost complete

Speech and Communication Skills

  • Vocabulary growing from 100 words to 1,000 words
  • Producing full sentences during conversation
  • Speech is 75% understandable
  • Making the “k” and “g” sounds
  • Asking Wh- questions becomes frequent (e.g. what, where, when, whose, etc)

Oral Motor and Feeding

  • Chewing and swallowing “adult food” with lips closed (e.g. steak, raw vegetables, nuts, etc)
  • Moving from drinking from an open cup without spilling
  • Using a fork and spoon will become an independent task
  • A highchair is no longer needed

Sensory and Sleeping

  • 11-14 hours of sleep per day with one 2-hour nap during the day time
  • Beginning to transition from crib to toddler bed
  • Cuddling is very good at calming during this age
  • A weighted blanket may help with calming
  • Tolerating new fabrics in clothing
  • Tolerating a variety of smells and noises

FUN FACT: Playing around with different textures (e.g. playdoh, sand, shaving cream) will allow your child to explore different sensations

Understanding and Thinking Skills

  • Understanding and answering “where” and “what” questions will become consistent
  • Consistently following 3-step directions containing “in”, “on”, “next to”
  • Understanding time concepts (e.g. soon, later, wait)
  • Matching and sorting similar objects and pictures

FUN FACT: By the time toddlers are 3 years old, their brains are almost full size in weight

Social / Play

  • Pretend play and sharing toys with other children and adults
  • Playing by rules of simple games
  • Consistently greeting familiar and unfamiliar people

Best Toys at This Age

  • Farm and farm animals
  • Potato Head
  • Balls
  • Puzzles
  • Tricycle
  • Playdoh
  • Kitchen / pretend play
  • Dolls
  • Simple books

Red Flags for Development

  • Not jumping in place
  • Walking on their toes or falling a lot
  • Not walking up and down stairs with a handrail
  • Shaky, stiff, or weak movements
  • Difficulty holding a fork and cup
  • Difficulty chewing threw meat and vegetables
  • Difficulty tolerating different textures in clothing, foods, and toys
  • Talking in phrases that are less than 3 words long
  • Having a small vocabulary
  • Not producing “m”, “b”, “p”, “d”, “h”, “k”, and/or “g”
  • *Limited eye contact with other people

Is My Child Ready for Preschool?

It is important for your child to develop the following skills prior to beginning preschool:

  • Following multistep directions consistently
  • Dealing with and managing emotions related to change
  • Completely potty trained
  • Following adult-directed tasks without much protest
  • Becoming fairly independent (eating lunch, washing hands)
  • Avoiding obstacles when walking and walking over various surfaces
  • Interacting with other children and adults well

Developmental Checklist

Is your child meeting their developmental milestones? 

Through steady improvement, your child can attain a boost of confidence.

Help your child find new levels of independence with pediatric therapy in Cincinnati and Dayton, OH.