This post is made possible with support from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” program. All opinions are my own.
My youngest is almost three years old, and I know better than compare him to his older siblings. However, it’s impossible to not think about my other children. Does he know more words than his older brother did at his age? Does he respond faster when you call his name? Does he do anything strange?
Why Do I Compare My Children?
While I know better than to compare my children, I also remember that at this age, my older son got evaluated by our local early intervention program and started getting special services for speech delay and sensory sensitivity.
I know from experience that early intervention is important, so I’m always thinking about the milestones my youngest child should be hitting at each stage.
Why Do You Need to Know This?
While it is fun to keep track of what your child can do at different stages and write about it in the baby book, the specific milestones are also incredibly significant for the child’s development. There is so much learning and growing that is done in such a short timespan. It’s easy to miss something if you don’t keep track of milestones at each stage.
An average two-year-old toddler imitates parents, shows independence, rebels against instructions, points and names objects, assembles 2- to 4-word sentences, follows simple directions, builds towers, and more.
While it might not be fun when your adorable two-year-old starts screaming because you dared to cut his tomato in half — don’t you get it? IT HAS TO BE ROUND! — it is entirely reasonable for that age group. My son also loves words such as “ME ME ME,” “SELF,” and “I CAN,” especially when I am running late for work. He is also great at building towers out of aluminum cans of food.
See a full list of the milestones for all age groups.
My son is turning three in a couple months, but what does that mean? Around the age of three, a child’s social and emotional characteristics continue to advance. They copy adults and show affection without being prompted. They begin to take turns when playing games with their friends or siblings. Another big step during this time is that they can easily separate from mom and dad without the meltdowns that used to occur during the toddler years. And, to the detriment of the laundry pile, they also love to dress and undress at this age.
Being three years old comes with more than just advanced social skills. I am also starting to see more in-depth communication skills from my son as he nears his birthday. He can do things like following instructions (when kept to a couple of steps). Plus, he understands prepositions such as in, on and under.
There are a lot of changes in a child’s cognitive and physical development as well. The new skills that they have to allow them to work with buttons, levers and other moving parts as well as be successful at puzzles. Block towers grow higher as their building skills improve. Also, consider taking your three-year-old to the park to see how well they can climb and run to get a feel for where they stand with their physical milestones. A three-year-old should be able to climb and run easily as well as climb stairs and ride a tricycle.
The developmental milestone checklists (with photos or videos of what they actually look like) can be found on the CDC website here or completed within CDC’s free new Milestone Tracker App (iOS or Android).
So again, remember that milestones matter! Look for your child’s milestones at every age using a checklist from CDC and share their progress with the doctor.
You can also order a FREE “Parent Kit” – it includes a Milestone Moments booklet with checklists for ages two months to 5 years and a growth chart.