Remember when, when Baby wanted something, their best strategy was pointing at it and shrieking? Remember even longer ago, when all they had for options were staring at something just out of reach and hoping you got the hint – well, that or crying? Well, it’s a good thing that you remember, because Baby doesn’t. It’s rare for people to remember their childhoods going back further than age two or three, and while young children’s memories of babyhood tend to stick around for a little while during toddlerhood, that little while doesn’t last long enough for them to remember too much about their pre-verbal days now.
Now that they're a great big three-year-old, though, they may start to form some long-term memories that’ll stick with them throughout their life, and their third birthday is a great time to make sure they have a few extra-good ones!
Other exciting new developments now that Baby is three whole years old include doing puzzles with three or four pieces, building towers as many as six blocks high, starting to understand the basic concept of numbers, and turning the pages of books one page at a time – even without your help. Baby is growing into one smart cookie! In the next year, they'll do even more – build and knock over even taller towers, learn to say more words and to understand even more than that, start to learn things like counting and maybe even some of the alphabet, and do more and more complicated imaginary play.
Another big shift in the year ahead? After the careful beginnings of starting to play with other children this past year, in the coming year, Baby will start to get to the point where they want to play with other children more than they want to play by themself most of the time. Many tots start preschool or nursery school around this time, which is pretty perfect timing, but for toddlers who are still at home or in individual care, there are plenty of ways to give them chances to play with others.
Tells a story: Telling a story takes a lot for a toddler, whether it’s a true story or a made-up one. For one thing, it takes quite a few words at a time – storytelling generally isn’t much of an option for tots who aren’t regularly and easily speaking in sentences yet. For another, it takes the strength of long-term memory to tell a story from beginning to end, and the concentration to actually want to. You can encourage your toddler to tell you stories by asking them questions about their day, their thoughts, and their world, but you can’t force it – storytelling will happen when it happens.
Writes their name: There’s no reason for Baby to write their name right now unless they want to, but if they have shown an interest, or has asked you, you can write out their name in big, clear letters for them to copy, and even start talking to them about which sounds each of the letters make. But if they isn’t showing any interest in writing their name on their own, there’s no real reason to think about it again until the months leading up to starting kindergarten.
- Rebecca Parlakian and Claire Lerner. “From Baby to Big Kid: Month 34.” Zero to Three. Zero to Three, May 16 2016. Retrieved September 6 2017. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/1275-from-baby-to-big-kid-month-34.
- Rebecca Parlakian and Claire Lerner. “From Baby to Big Kid: Month 33.” Zero to Three. Zero to Three, May 16 2016. Retrieved September 6 2017. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/1274-from-baby-to-big-kid-month-33.
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- “Developmental Skills for Ages 2 to 3 Years.” Fairview Health Services. University of Minnesota, Amplatz Children’s Hospital. Retrieved September 7 2017. https://www.fairview.org/fv/groups/internet/documents/web_content/developmen_201009262104505.pdf.
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- “Learning and Development: Young Children 24 to 36 Months.” Better Brains for Babies. University of Georgia. Retrieved September 7 2017. http://bbbgeorgia.org/childDev_24-36.php.
- “Play Activities for 24 to 36 Months.” Zero to Three. Zero to Three, February 17 2010. Retrieved September 7 2017. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/169-play-activities-for-24-to-36-months.
- “Physical Activity for Your Child: Age 2 Years.” Lancaster General Health. Penn Medicine. Retrieved September 7 2017. http://www.lancastergeneralhealth.org/LGH/ECommerceSite/media/LGH-Media-Library/Documents/Services/Service%20Lines/Healthy%20Weight%20Management/Fact%20Sheets/Physical-Activity-Age-2.pdf.
- “Stages of Play from 24-36 Months: The World of Imagination.” Zero to Three. Zero to Three, February 26 2015. Retrieved September 6 2017. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/315-stages-of-play-from-24-36-months-the-world-of-imagination.
- “Your Child at Three Years.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved September 7 2017. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/pdf/checklists/checklists_3yr.pdf.