Milestones: 25 to 36 months

Milestones: 25 to 36 months

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Keep in mind that this is only a guideline to what to expect from your preschooler this year. Each child is unique and develops at her own pace. There's a wide range of what's considered normal, and you probably don't need to be concerned unless you notice one of the red flags described below.


Your preschooler's imagination is taking off: Playing make-believe is a hallmark of this age, along with fears about imaginary monsters and more ordinary things such as the dark or the vacuum cleaner. She might have a hard time sorting out fantasy and reality.

Her speech is becoming clear enough that strangers can usually understand her. She can use some pronouns properly and follow multi-step instructions. Her vocabulary is increasing dramatically: She'll be using hundreds of words by the time she's 3.

She can walk up and down stairs, jump, and pedal a tricycle. Her manual dexterity is improving too: Your preschooler is figuring out how to open doors and containers and can manipulate moving parts on toys. She can also draw a circle and complete simple puzzles.

You'll see her start to develop friendships, showing empathy and affection for her playmates – and even her dolls! She's getting the hang of taking turns and sharing, but may struggle with tantrums when her emotions get the best of her.

Your role

Provide your child with lots of opportunities to play with kids her own age. Be ready to step in and facilitate sharing or taking turns. She'll need help figuring out how to solve problems and how to handle her emotions. At this age, children don't have the cognitive or language skills to negotiate with a playmate

Play learning games: Count stairs together, ask her to find matching toys, and name body parts. Pretend play may help her sort through emotions, but let her direct the play. Make sure she gets plenty of time outside to run, hop, pedal, and freely explore.

Set simple and clear limits and follow through with consequences calmly and consistently. Be sure to praise her when she behaves well.

Stay on top of her evolving skills and childproof your home accordingly.

She might be ready to move from her crib to a bed near her third birthday. Watch for signs that your preschooler is ready for toilet training.

Red flags

Each child develops at her own pace, but talk to your child's doctor if your preschooler still:

  • Doesn't interact with people outside her family
  • Avoids eye contact
  • Can't throw a ball or jump
  • Can't climb stairs with alternating feet
  • Has trouble scribbling
  • Doesn't use more than three words in a sentence
  • Isn't able to complete a sentence
  • Is often difficult for strangers to understand when she talks
  • Doesn't play make-believe
  • Excessively balks at basic self-care, like getting dressed or going to sleep
  • Loses skills she previously had

Back to the previous stage: 13 to 24 months

Watch the video: Baby and Toddler Milestones, Dr. Lisa Shulman (May 2022).