What to Expect: Age 3
When you baby reaches three years of age, you are in for a real treat. Hopefully, you have moved past the terrible two’s and entering the terrific three’s. When children are three years old, they are much more independent and more vocal than years before. Year three is also a year full of many exciting firsts, such as potty training and friendships.
Your three-year-old will begin to make his first friends. When he was younger, playing with friends meant playing side by side. At this age, your little one will start interacting with friends and playing together. You will also see a more imaginative play with friends, such as playing in pretend kitchens or playing dress-up. For this reason, social interaction should be encouraged.
Additionally, your child’s social skills will also develop his behavior. At three years old, your child will begin to learn how to behave around others inside and outside of your home. Some three-year-old children challenge authority, while others are compliant. At this age, they are merely learning how to behave correctly, so you should expect to spend quite a bit of time teaching and reinforcing positive behaviors.
You should start to notice your three-year-old grow more confident speaking. At this age, children are learning new words at a fast pace. According to PBS Parents, “At 36 months, [your child] understands 1000 or more words [and] acquires an average of 1500 to 2000 words during this year.” Your child will also begin to speak in short sentences. With all the language development at age three, one of the most delightful surprises for parents is their child’s ability to converse and ask questions.
Three-year-old children are also learning to do more “big kid” activities such as riding a tricycle. Their gross motor skills will have developed enough to allow them to do these activities, as well as balance on one foot. Additionally, at this age, their fine motor skills have strengthened allowing them to task such as button and unbutton, zip, and use writing tools to draw simple shapes.
While your three-year-old will still a decentamount of sleep, you should anticipate some sleep changes. For instance, it is typical for children to drop their naps between three and four years of age. When the nap is given up, it is even more imperative that your child is getting enough sleep at night. Experts recommend children this age sleep 10 – 13 hours total per day.
The most significant change around age three is the switch from diapers to the potty. While potty training ages vary, studies suggest “baby boys in the United States give up diapers at 39 months and girls at 35 months.”
As you approach your child’s third birthday, another thing to consider is preschool. Many three-year-old children begin attending preschool a few days a week for social interaction and life skills.