Nutrition for a 3-Year Old
Happy Birthday to your three-year-old! Your child is still growing but at a much slower pace than in infancy. Offer a well-balanced diet, and allow your child to choose how much he/she eats. Use 1%, 1/2% or skim milk. Family meals are important. Emphasize being together more than manners and finishing all the food. Your child should be using a spoon and fork to feed him-or herself. Vitamins are not usually necessary but you may want to use a multivitamin. Fluoride is needed if your well water tests negative for fluoride.
Development and Behavior for a 3-Year Old
Most three-year-olds know their full name, age and sex. Language skills are fairly well-developed so that people can understand 50-75% of what your child says. Children at this age are becoming interested in playing with peers and can participate in simple games. By three years of age, most children can walk up stairs, alternating feet, and ride a tricycle; most, but not all, three-year-olds are toilet-trained. Many may still wear diapers or pull-ups at night.
Children at this age have rich imaginations. Much of their day is spent in fantasy. They see the world from their own viewpoint, and their perceptions of events may be creatively processed! You may begin to hear about imaginary friends and “untruths” which are your child’s interpretations of real life events. These “tall tales” are a reflection of your child’s active imagination and may represent a creative coping mechanism. Try to deal with the underlying issue rather than focus on the truthfulness of the story.
With such an active imagination, your child is vulnerable to the effects of television. Limit your child’s TV viewing to less than 2 hrs/day and monitor the programs he/she watches. The negative effects of viewing violence are well-established. Watch TV with your child and discuss his or her perceptions of favorite programs. Read with your child as often as possible.
Discipline at this age is best focused on teaching your child appropriate behavior. The three-year-old cannot yet control impulsiveness. Firm, reasonable, and consistent limits with appropriate consequences should be employed to teach desired behavior. Focus on what your child does well and emphasize his or her strengths.
Safety for a 3-Year Old
Always place your child in the back seat in a forward facing carseat. Be a good role model and wear your seat belt. Never leave your child alone in the car. Never place your child in a seat with an airbag. Supervise all outside play and closely observe water play. Keep all medicines, vitamins, cleaning supplies, poisons and rearms locked away. Keep the poison control center number 1-800-848-6946 next to your phone. Remember, we no longer recommend Syrup of Ipecac or Activated Charcoal for poisoning. Replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors regularly.
Children love to explore the outdoors. Make it safer by fencing the yard and keeping children inside when lawn mowers or other machinery are used. Inside, check the stability of drawers, tall furniture and lamps. Make sure windows are closed or have screens that cannot be pushed out. Motorized vehicles are hazardous. Slow, battery operated cars are fun, but 4-wheelers, mini-bikes and motorcycles often cause serious injuries.
Health Maintenance and Shots for a 3-Year Old
Today, your child will be screened for vision and hearing problems. No immunizations or laboratory studies are scheduled if your child is up-to-date. We recommend your child see a dentist for routine checkups.
At 4 years your child will receive a checkup, and be measured for height, weight and blood pressure. Your child may receive booster immunizations for DTaP, Polio, Chicken Pox and MMR if they will attend school the next year. Notify your provider if your child has ever had an anaphylactic reaction to eggs/neomycin and/or has relatives and/or visitors with poor immunity. Call the office before that time if you have any questions or concerns.