Milestones - By three years

Child colouring Use of words and sentences
By the age of three children will usually speak in sentences, joining four or five words together to communicate simple ideas, events or stories to others, e.g. “Me a big girl now.”  They will ask simple questions to get information using questions words like “where?” “why?” “who?”. They use up to 300 words and will refer to something that has happened in the past.
Check it out
  • Has your child stopped relying on pointing to get what they want, or only using single words?
  • Does your three year old ask lots of questions?

Speech sounds: Your child has clearer speech.  You should be able to understand most of what they say, though their speech might not be perfectly clear to everyone.  Errors such as “doap” instead of soap, “boa” instead of boat and “tar” instead of car are still common.  Children of this age use little grammar words like “I, me, a, the,” and put “ed” endings of doing words, such as, “We walked” but will sometimes use immature grammar, e.g. “shutted.” Help your child to learn by saying back “Yes, you shut the door.”

Any concerns?
It is important to remember that all children are different and your child may develop at a faster or slower rate than others. If your child has a nanny, childminder or goes to nursery talk to them. It is always helpful to have information about how your child talks and communicates in other places.

Learning to talk is a complicated process and no children get it right straight away. Young children often stop, pause, start again and stumble over words when they are learning to talk. This is normal. Children will often repeat words and phrases (or say things like ‘um um’) and hesitate whilst they are sorting out what they want to say. This can go on even up until they start school.

If you are at all concerned about your three year old’s language development, for example you think that they speak less than other children their age, or are not talking in four to five word sentences, you should contact your health visitor, children’s centre or local speech and language therapist  and talk to them about your child. You can contact a speech and language therapist yourself; you do not need to go through your GP or health visitor though Speech and Language Therapy services are run differently depending on where you live. You can get free resources and check out your child’s speech, language and communication development at

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Baby to 3 milestones

3 months > 6 months > 1 year > 18 months > 2 years > 3 years

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