Parent Information (3 years)

We encourage all parents to schedule well-child appointments.


View our Immunization schedule.

If your child seems fussy or uncomfortable, we recommend giving a dose of Tylenol. This can be repeated once every 4 hours as needed.

General Information

A great deal of change occurs in your child’s social skills between his second and third birthday. While strong individualist tendencies remain, he will now play mutually. Improved language skills allow him to negotiate his wants and needs more effectively. At this point, he should be about 75% understandable and be able to string 2 to 3 short sentences together during conversation. He can name friends as well as label objects and remember their use. Encourage continued language development by reading to him daily. Ask simple questions about the story as you read.

Learning is on a trial and error basis. This, coupled with his improved motor skills, means constant supervision is necessary.

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Most 3-year-olds enjoy dressing and feeding themselves. Providing several acceptable choices helps limit conflicts. Stop unwanted behavior, such as biting or hitting, immediately. Point out how that makes the other person feel and help him apologize. Continue to model acceptable ways to handle emotions at home. Provide consistent discipline between all caregivers. Time out and removing the source of the conflict are good disciplinary tactics at this point.

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Keep mealtimes regular and offer healthy snacks as needed. Some children have picky appetites, but as long as their growth rates are normal, this should not be a concern. Continue to limit juice intake to 1-2 cups per day. Offer water or low-fat milk instead. Monitor your child’s intake of sweets, especially if he is overweight. Provide healthier options such as fruit or cut vegetables. Eat meals together at the table. Turn the TV off. Use this time to discuss the day’s events and encourage good manners.

Exercise on a regular basis. Try to incorporate at least 30 minutes of physical activity several times a week into family fun time. This helps lay the foundation for a healthy lifestyle.

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Oral Health

Brush your child’s teeth twice daily with a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste. Be sure to have him spit and rinse to avoid excess fluoride ingestion. While he may want to brush alone, it is best that you brush his teeth first and then allow him a turn. Children at this age cannot do a proper job unassisted. By now, your child should be visiting the dentist for regular check-ups every 6 months.

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In general, girls become potty-trained between 2 1/2 -3 years old, and boys closer to 3. Even as they master daytime dryness, most children will still wear a diaper at nighttime.

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Safety Reminders

At this age, all play should be supervised. Make sure toys are age-appropriate to avoid choking hazards.

Continue to inspect your home for potential dangers. Stabilize heavy furniture that could topple if a child climbs on it. Shorten cords that dangle from blinds or other window coverings. Hide exposed wires and cover plugs. Keep safety caps on all medicines and toxic household products. Post the Poison Control Center number (1-800-222-1222) by your phone for accidental ingestions.

To prevent accidental drowning, drain water from buckets and bathtubs immediately after use. Never leave your child alone in or near a bathtub. Be sure to apply sunscreen liberally during warmer months. Secure all firearms unloaded and lock ammunition in a separate location. When traveling, your child should always be in an appropriate car seat in the rear of the vehicle.

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Additional Resources