Month 38

Child development and milestones:Your 38-month-old


Let’s take a look at some common 38 month old child developmental milestones your little one is expected to achieve!

Physical Development

Your 38 month old child is now much more well-balanced. She should be able to run and climb well. She can even pedal a tricycle. That trip to the playground or park is now so much more exciting for her! 

She is also becoming more independent. She can feed herself, put on shoes that don’t have laces, undo buttons etc. 

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Here are some of the skills she may have acquired by now:

  • Climbs and runs well
  • Walks up and down stairs using one foot on each step
  • Pedals a tricycle
  • Jumps, and may hop on one foot
  • Can carry drinks without spilling
  • Catches a ball
  • Puts on and takes off jacket with some help
  • Has some finger control in handling small objects (but still needs help with buttons and shoelaces)
  • Copies simple shapes using pens or crayons

Parenting Tips:

  • Allow plenty of play time, including regular trips to parks and playgrounds.
  • The playground will let your child mingle with other kids. She'll start understanding the concept of sharing and taking turns.
  • At this age, the little one loves messy play in the sand or mud, or playing with play dough. 
  • Encourage her cycling skills. Make sure she is safe and well-protected though, by using helmets and elbow and knee pads.
  • Water play is another activity she is bound to enjoy. Watch your child at all times when in or around water. 

When to Talk to Your Doctor:

  • Your child doesn’t look you in the eye.
  • She has trouble seeing or hearing things.
  • She is clumsy. For example, she trips over a lot when walking or running.
  • She finds it difficult to climb stairs.
  • Your child finds it hard to handle small objects like a pencil or crayon.
  • She isn’t able to draw simple shapes.

Cognitive Development

This is the age of questioning and reasoning! Expect your little one to ask questions all the time. There will be lots of "who", "what" and "why" questions.

She is also able to follow directions better. And did we mention she LOVES pretend play?

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Here are some key highlights when comes to cognitive development of a 38 month old child:

  • Your child is now excited, curious and imaginative.
  • Her attention span is around four to eight minutes.
  • Her memory is developing rapidly. She can now identify and name simple colours. She may even identify her friends by name.
  • Your child likes to copy adults.
  • She loves pretend play, and plays make-believe with animals, dolls, and people.
  • She understands two directions given one after the other.
  • Your little one can screw jar lids on and off and turn door knobs.
  • She is able to stack more than six blocks, and can do puzzles with around four pieces.
  • She can copy simple shapes like circles.

Parenting Tips:

  • Read to your child every day and ask questions about the stories.
  • Your little one is experiencing new things every day, some of which may be unnerving for her. Read books about going to school, to the dentist etc to make her feel more relaxed and prepared.
  • She'll love pretending to be mummy and daddy, so how about giving her a pretend kitchen? Pots, pans, and spoons – get ready to dig in to those (pretend) cakes!
  • Encourage her to observe her surroundings, ask her to describe what she sees in the park, for example. Keep talking and listening to her, ask her about what she did during the day, etc.
  • Sing simple songs together.
  • Create and stick to a bedtime routine.
  • Engage the little one in plenty of drawing, colouring and craft activities.
  • Involve her in sorting games and games involving counting. Flash cards of colours, shapes, numbers are great too.

When to Talk to Your Doctor: 

  • Your child avoids making eye contact.
  • If your child doesn’t understand simple instructions – for example, "Please give me the ball."
  • Lacks interest in interactive games and doesn't engage in fantasy play.

Social and Emotional Development

You will notice that your child enjoys her playdates a lot more now. Of course, there will still be moments of frustration and stubbornness when it comes to sharing her toys or taking turns.

She is much more independent, lively and talkative. She is also able to empathise better with others.

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Here are some changes you may have noticed:

  • Your child likes copying what adults and friends do.
  • She likes interacting with other kids, and isn't as clingy as she used to be, when going to daycare or school.
  • By now, she shows a wide range of feelings like jealousy, excitement, fear, happiness and anger. She may even start showing concern for her friends' feelings.
  • The little one is able to understand the concept of taking turns while playing with friends.
  • She shows affection for family and friends.
  • She understands the concept of "mine" and "his/hers".
  • Some children are potty trained during the day by now.
  • She loves helping around the house.
  • She enjoys routines and is likely to get upset when there are big changes.

Parenting Tips:

  • Start letting your child “help” around the house. Ask them to bring you things or put things away. 
  • Encourage play dates and interaction with other children. Play dates are the perfect times to practice positive values, such as empathy and sharing. 
  • In fact, this is the perfect time to enroll her in a group activity which involves sports, or even music and dance.  
  • And if you haven't already started potty training, this is a good time to do so.

When to Talk to Your Doctor:

  • If your child is still inseparable from her primary caregiver, or continues to experience extreme separation anxiety.
  • The child shows little or no interest in interacting with other children.
  • If she resists getting dressed, sleeping, and going to the bathroom.

Speech and Language Development

Your 38 month old child now has an impressive vocabulary of 800 to 900 words! Communication skills vary from child to child, so don't worry yourself sick if your child isn't talking as well as your friend's kid.

The best way to develop your child's language and vocabulary is to keep reading to them.

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Here are some speech and language milestones that can be expected at this age:

  • Talks clearly enough that even strangers can usually understand.
  • Speaks sentences with three to four words.
  • Knows how to use pronouns like “I”, “you”, and “we”, and and prepositions like on, over, in, under.
  • Is able to say first name and age, and can name common objects.
  • May get confused between “w” and “r”, as in wabbit for rabbit.

Parenting Tips:

  • Read as much as you can to your child. Keep her books nearby so she can take a look whenever she wants.
  • Keep talking to her as well, and encourage her to speak by asking questions.
  • Playdates and interacting with other children are also great ways for her to improve her vocabulary and language skills.

When to Talk to Your Doctor: 

  • If your child isn't using three-word sentences.
  • Uses "me" and "you" inappropriately.
  • Shows persistent drooling and has trouble speaking.

Health and Nutrition

Your little bundle of energy needs loads of good food and nutrition at this age!

Depending on his or her age, size, and activity level, a 38 month old child will need about 1,000 to 1,400 calories a day.

Girls at this age range from 89 cm to 102 cm in height and 11.6 kg to 17.5 kg in weight. For boys, the range is 90 cm to 103 cm in height and 12.2 kg to 17.5 kg in weight.

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Your child's daily food intake should ideally consist of:

  • Carbohydrates and Fats

 4-5 ounces, half of which should be from whole-grain sources. 1 ounce equals 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal, or ½ cup of cooked rice, cooked pasta, or cooked cereal.

  • Protein

Your child needs 2 cups of milk every day for calcium. You can also substitute 1 cup of milk with 1 cup of yogurt, 1½ ounces of natural cheese, or 2 ounces of processed cheese.

Meat and beans are great sources of protein for the growing child, and at this age she would need 3-4 ounces of them daily. 1 ounce equals 1 ounce of meat, poultry or fish, ¼ cup cooked dry beans, or 1 egg.

  • Vitamins and Minerals

Fruits and vegetables are the primary sources of vitamins and minerals for your growing child. At this age, she would need 1-1½ cups of fruits and 1½ cups of vegetables every day.

Parenting Tips:

  • Encourage your child to feed herself. Refrain from force-feeding.
  • Make mealtimes fun and easy with finger foods.
  • Serve vegetables that are soft, cut in small pieces, and well cooked, to prevent choking.
  • To help prevent iron deficiency, serve more iron-rich foods like meat, poultry, fish, enriched grains, beans, tofu etc.
  • If you have a picky eater, try disguising fruits and vegetables by mixing them into her favourite food.
  • Make sure that your child drinks lots of water. Also, avoid soft drinks, fruit juices (especially those with added sugar), flavoured milk and water, sports drinks and energy drinks

When to Talk to Your Doctor:

If your child is underweight or small for her age, consult a paediatrician to know if this is a normal phase they will outgrow, or if it’s signalling a deeper issue.