Toddler no more! Baby is officially turning into a preschooler, and with this comes quite a few fun changes for the year ahead. Here’s a glimpse of what changes to expect this year.
- Language: Over the past year, you likely witnessed a vocabulary explosion, as Baby figured out all kinds of new words, and began stringing words together into phrases, and even sentences. This year, they will continue to expand their speech, until they're speaking in sentences of about six words. Baby will now be better understood by strangers and will be capable of carrying on short conversations. You may notice them getting a little mixed up over tenses, using phrases like, “Then the boy runned away.” Feel free to correct them, or to just gently repeat back the correct construction, but don’t stress about it. They'll learn best over time just by listening to the way you speak and hearing other people using language.
- Sleep: Many children drop their afternoon nap this year, though their total sleep in a 24-hour period should remain at about 11 hours, whether that’s all nighttime sleep, or still including a nap. You may experience some challenges with bedtime this year, as Baby learns to push the limits, requesting “just one more” story or song.
- Potty training: Most girls potty train just before their third birthdays, with boys training not long after. If Baby still doesn’t seem interested in potty training early in the year, don’t fret. Potty training isn’t considered truly delayed until age 4. You can start to encourage them to use the potty, and take them in to try it a few times during the day, such as once every two hours. If they fight you, take a step back and wait a few more weeks before trying again. Pushing them to train before they are ready won’t help, and may turn potty training into a power struggle between you and Baby.
- Preschool: This year, you will be faced with the decision of whether to start Baby in preschool. Starting school is a major transition for Baby, and it can be helpful to keep as much of the rest of their routine consistent as possible, to help them feel more secure and in control. As with any big change, beginning school can cause regressions in some areas, like sleep or potty training. Be patient, and remember that with consistency from you, they will get back on track once they get used to the new routine.
- Social: Socially, Baby will begin playing with their peers this year, instead of just near them. You can help encourage good social behavior by modeling how to interact with friends, as they learn most by watching you. You will probably find that they begin telling you about new friends they have made at school, so get ready for lots of playdates!
This coming year is a big one for Baby socially, and it’s also a great time for them to get to know themself, so keep an eye out for Baby’s blossoming personality, too!
- “Developmental Milestones: 3 to 4 Year Olds.” HealthyChildren. American Academy of Pediatrics, November 21 2015. Retrieved November 9 2017. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/preschool/Pages/Developmental-Milestones-3-to-4-Year-Olds.aspx.
- “Important Milestones: Your Child By Three Years.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, October 3 2017. Retrieved November 9 2017. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/milestones-3yr.html.