3 Years

Feeding and Nutrition

  • Despite your preschooler’s general enthusiasm towards eating, your child may have very specific preferences for food, some of which may vary from day to day. As long as your child chooses foods that aren’t overly sugary, fatty, or salty, don’t object. However, encourage new foods by offering very small amounts to taste, not by insisting they eat a full portion of an unfamiliar food.
  • As a parent, your job is to make sure that your preschooler has nutritious food choices at every meal. If there are healthy options on the dining room table, let your three-year-old make the decision of what (and how much) to eat. If you have a picky eater – resisting eating vegetables, for example – don’t get discouraged or frustrated. Keep offering foods even if initially disliked.
  • Obesity is a growing problem among children in America. For this reason, you need to be aware of your youngster’s eating habits, at home and away, and monitor them to make sure they’re eating as healthy as possible.

Family Support

  • Handle anger constructively in your family by settling disputes with respectful discussion, exercise, or time alone to cool down.
  • Don’t allow your child to hit, bite, or use other violent behavior. Stop the behavior immediately and explain how it makes the other person feel. Help your child apologize.
  • Reinforce limits and appropriate behavior. Enlist all caregivers in efforts to be consistent in expectations and discipline.
  • Use time-outs or remove the source of conflict.
  • Give your child opportunities to make limited choices such as what clothes to wear, books to read, and places to go (give 2 options).
  • Help your children develop good relationships with each other. Acknowledge conflicts between siblings and, whenever possible, try to resolve them without taking sides.
  • Spend some individual time with each child in your family.

Literacy Activities

  • Encourage your child’s language development and awareness of sounds by reading books, singing songs, and playing rhyming games. Look for ways to practice reading wherever you go (eg, STOP signs or boxes at the supermarket).
  • Ask your child questions about the story or pictures. Let him “tell” part of the story.
  • Let your child talk with you about his preschool, friends, experiences, and observations.

Playing with Peers

  • Encourage your child to play with their favorite toys. Toys should be appropriate for their age.
  • Expect for your child to engage in increasingly elaborate fantasy play using dolls, toy animals, and other toys on her own and with others.
  • Spend time alone with your child doing something you both enjoy.
  • Provide opportunities for your child to safely explore the world around them.
  • If your child is not in child care or preschool, make sure he or she has opportunities to play with other children.
  • Encourage interactive games with peers and help them understand the importance of taking turns.

Physical Activity

  • Create opportunities for your family to share time and exercise together.
  • Promote physical activity in a safe environment at home and in preschool.
  • Limit all forms of screen time to no more than 1 to 2 hours per day. Do not put a TV or DVD player in your child’s bedroom.
  • Monitor the TV programs your child watches. Be aware that commercials strongly influence even young children to want things that are not healthy for them.

Safety

  • Continue to use size-appropriate forward-facing safety seat that is properly installed in the back seat according to the manufacturer’s instructions and the vehicle owner’s manual.
  • When your child reaches the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer, shoulders are above the top harness slots, or the ears come to the top of the car safety seat, consider whether you child is mature enough for the greater flexibility of movement allowed by a belt-positioning booster seat. If not, use a forward-facing seat with a harness with a higher weight limit or a travel vest.
  • The back seat is the safest place for children to ride.
  • Never leave your child alone in the car, house, or yard.
  • Do not expect young brothers or sisters to watch over your child.
  • Supervise all play near streets or driveways. Your child is not ready to cross the street alone.
  • Remember that many young children are excellent climbers. To prevent children from falling out of windows, keep furniture away from windows and install operable window guards on second- and higher-story windows.
  • Guns should be stored unloaded and locked with the ammunition locked separately from the gun.
  • Keep medications, cleaning solutions, and insecticides out of children’s reach.

Dentist

  • 3-year-olds should be brushing their teeth at least twice a day with a soft bristle brush and a small amount of fluoridated toothpaste. Follow up with your pediatric dentist every six months.