Physical Characteristics

Gains 3-5 pounds/year and grows 2-3 inches/year

Legs grow more rapidly than arms, giving 3-year olds a taller, thinner, adult-like appearance; “baby fat” is disappearing


Motor Development

Kicks a large ball

Balances momentarily on one foot

Jumps in place

Pedals a small tricycle or Bigwheel

Catches a large bounced ball with both arms extended

Holds crayon between 2 fingers and thumb

Begins to show hand dominance

Washes and dries hands


Cognitive Development

Knows basic shapes

Listens attentively to age-appropriate stories


Speech and Language Development

Uses 300 to 1,000 words

Talks about objects, events, and people not present

Answers simple questions appropriately


Personal-Social Development

Understands taking turns, but not always willing to do so

Has occasional nightmares and fears

Defends toys and possessions


Check with your child's pediatrician if by Four Years your child does NOT:

Have intelligible speech most of the time

Understand and follow simple commands and directions

State own name and age

Enjoy playing near or with other children

Use three to four word sentences

Ask questions

Stay with an activity for 3-4 minutes; play alone several minutes at a time

Jump in place without falling

Balance on one foot, at least briefly

Help with dressing self

Did you answer yes to one or more of the developmental alerts?

  1. First and foremost, please contact your child's pediatrician. Your health care provider is your best resource if you have any questions or concerns.
  2. Secondly, would you like to speak with someone at Special Kids to learn more about how our services may benefit your child? Contact our Family Resources team to learn more.

*Developmental milestone survey adapted from Lynn Marotz and K. Eileen Allen's book Developmental Profiles: Pre-birth through Adolescence.