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Well Child Care > Well child care: 3 Years

Well child care: 3 Years

Information regarding developmental goals, safety, immunizations, and nutrition information.

Developmental Goals

  • Most 3 year olds can pedal a tricycle, open doors, build a tower of 9 cubes, copy a circle, dress self with supervision, and wash/dry hands.
  • Vocabulary includes more complex words and sentences. A three year old can build at least 3 word sentences and use pronouns.
  • Most preschoolers are able to give their full name, age, sex, and count to 5.
  • Toddlers and preschoolers may have a period of stuttering, which is usually self-limiting. Make an appointment to discuss this if it lasts longer than 6 months.
  • She should be showing early imaginative behaviors.
  • Screen time: For children 2-5 years, limit screen time to 1 hour a day of high-quality, age appropriate programming. Watch with your children to help them understand what they're watching and to apply it to the world around them. Designate media-free times, such as during dinner, and media-free spaces, such as bedrooms. Use the Family Media Use Plan tool from the AAP to help.
  • Read daily with your child!
  • See also Speech Development


  • Insure a balanced diet and avoid junk food. If your child does not eat a food group well today, try a favorite food from that group tomorrow to attempt to get balance over the course of a week.
  • Toddlers should feed themselves. A little mess is ok… they still prefer fingers to forks!
  • Many toddlers and young children are picky eaters. The less you force feed, model good eating behaviors, and praise tasting of foods, the more balanced the diet becomes.
  • Use skim, 2%, or whole milk ~ up to 24 oz/day. It is dangerous to give too much milk - children can easily become iron deficient and anemic with too much milk. The type of milk is less important than the amount.
  • Limit juice and minimize sugary snacks. Juice offers little nutrition and has a lot of sugar! See Dr. Stuppy's AAP Juice Guidelines summary for more information. 
  • Offer a plant (fruit or vegetable) plus a protein (meat, nut, egg, dairy) each meal and snack. This will help your child reach the goal of at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. 
  • All children should receive a supplement of vitamin D and possibly iron because they do not get enough in their diet. For more information, click here.
  • Click here for more age specific feeding recommendations.


  • Continue car seat with 5 point harness until at least 4 years, unless your child is over 80 pounds or 4 feet 9 inches.
  • Never put children under 13 years in front of an air bag.
  • Always supervise when children are playing in water or near a street.
  • Child-proofing is still important (poisons, guns, matches, knives).Preschoolers are creative in finding trouble! Keep things out of site/out of mind.
  • Do not pour old/recalled medications down the sink or toilet. Click here for information on properly disposing of medications.
  • Don't let your preschooler wander off and get lost. Dr. Stuppy has tips to help.
  • Teach rules if separated in a crowd. You can teach them to find another child and ask that child for help. There are usually other children around, and this is less intimidating than talking with a strange adult. It is also generally safer to talk to another child. The other child can use their adult for help. If your child is able, teach parent cell phone numbers so they can use if separated.
  • Use sunscreen every time playing outdoors. Apply 30 min before going outside. Reapply every 2 hours as needed.
  • Use a helmet every time on a bike, scooter, skates, etc. Parents must lead by example. Children do as they're shown, not as they're told!
  • Begin teaching about privacy of body once your child is potty trained. Simply state that everything covered by a swimsuit is private. Private means that no one can see or touch it unless Mom or Dad gives permission. Mom and Dad will only give permission if they know there is a reason, such as the doctor needs to check all parts of the body to know it is healthy.
  • Click here for more over all safety information (i.e. bug safety, sun safety, Internet safety, etc.)!


  • Praise good behavior.
  • Provide limited choices.
  • Reinforce limits.
  • Continue time-outs: 1 minute per year of age.
  • No hitting.
  • Make a "special time" with your child and give him an opportunity to talk about his day.
  • Begin to offer choices in appropriate situations - this teaches decision-making.
  • Preschool aged children should start to learn to take turns and share. Play groups or preschools may help teach these concepts. Family game night with simple games teach these skills, as well as counting, colors, memory, and other skills.
  • See our Discipline page for more information.


  • A dental appointment should be scheduled if not already done. See our dental pages for information on tooth issues.
  • Parents need CPR training. Local hospitals, Red Cross and parent groups are some places that offer classes.
  • At age 3 all kids should visit an eye care specialist. A "See to Learn" grant provides for a free visit to the ophthalmologist at 3 years. Call your ophthalmologist to see if they participate in this program or click here to search for participating providers.
  • Flu vaccine is recommended each Fall.
  • Immunizations: It is no longer recommended to give a fever reducer to prevent symptoms after vaccines. Studies have shown that preventing the fever might decrease the effectiveness of the vaccine. You can give Acetaminophen for symptoms if needed.

Be sure to obtain any required health forms at your well visit!

WIC (Women, Infant, and Children) provides nutrition counseling, breastfeeding support, and food to families who have needs. For more information click here.

Has your 3 year old had their well child care appointment? Click here to request an appointment


Review your insurance contract to see who is responsible for payment of specific things within your well visit. Many companies do not require a co pay for well care visits, but if additional topics are discussed (such as ill topics or refills of medications) they might require a payment from you. They might also require you to pay for all or part of any labs or testing done at well visits.

If you have questions about how your insurance handles codes performed at the time of well visits, please visit our insurance pages on patient responsibility with billing and Why am I being billed? I have insurance!

Find health information quickly in our parent toolkit.

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