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Child's Routine Checkup, 3 Years: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

Three-year-olds can have a range of feelings, such as being excited one minute to having a temper tantrum the next. Your child may try to push, hit, or bite other children. It may be hard for your child to understand how he or she feels and to listen to you.

At this age, your child may be ready to jump, hop, or ride a tricycle. Your child likely knows his or her name, age, and whether he or she is a boy or girl. He or she can copy easy shapes, like circles and crosses. Your child probably likes to dress and feed himself or herself.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?


  • Make meals a family time. Have nice conversations at mealtime and turn the TV off.
  • Do not give your child foods that may cause choking, such as nuts, whole grapes, hard or sticky candy, or popcorn.
  • Give your child healthy foods. Even if your child does not seem to like them at first, keep trying. Offer a variety of foods from each of the food groups every day.
  • Offer your child a variety of vegetables and fruits including broccoli, carrots, green beans, pears, apples, and berries.
  • Choose whole grain foods including bread, whole grain pasta, brown rice, and oatmeal. Look for snacks made from whole grains such as cereals, crackers, and tortillas.
  • Have your child try protein foods like eggs, beans, fish, poultry, lean meats, milk, fortified soy beverages, yogurt, and cheese.
  • Do not eat much fast food. Choose healthy snacks that are low in sugar, fat, and salt instead of candy, chips, and other junk foods.
  • Offer water when your child is thirsty. Juice is not necessary for a healthy diet. Juice does not have the valuable fibre that whole fruit has. Many fruit drinks are just water, a little juice flavouring, and a lot of added sugar. Do not give your child soda.
  • Do not use food as a reward or punishment for your child's behaviour.

Healthy habits

  • Help your child brush his or her teeth every day using a "pea-size" amount of toothpaste with fluoride.
  • Limit your child's TV or video time to less than 1 hour per day. Check for TV programs that are good for 3 year olds.
  • Do not smoke or allow others to smoke around your child. Smoking around your child increases the child's risk for ear infections, asthma, colds, and pneumonia. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.


  • For every ride in a car, secure your child into a properly installed car seat or booster seat that meets all current safety standards. Use a car seat or booster seat that is made for their weight and height. For questions about car seats and booster seats, call Transport Canada at 1-800-333-0371 or visit, the Government of Canada's Child Safety webpage.
  • Keep cleaning products and medicines in locked cabinets out of your child's reach. Keep the number for your local or provincial poison control centre on or near your phone.
  • Put locks or guards on all windows above the first floor. Watch your child at all times near play equipment and stairs.
  • Watch your child at all times when he or she is near water, including pools, hot tubs, and bathtubs.


  • Read stories to your child every day. One way children learn to read is by hearing the same story over and over.
  • Play games, talk, and sing to your child every day. Give them love and attention.
  • Give your child simple chores to do. Children usually like to help.

Potty training

  • Let your child decide when to potty train. Your child will decide to use the potty when there is no reason to resist. Tell your child that the body makes "pee" and "poop" every day, and that those things want to go in the toilet. Ask your child to "help the poop get into the toilet." Then help your child use the potty as much as he or she needs help.
  • Give praise and rewards. Give praise, smiles, hugs, and kisses for any success. Rewards can include toys, stickers, or a trip to the park. Sometimes it helps to have one big reward, such as a doll or a fire truck, that must be earned by using the toilet every day. Keep this toy in a place that can be easily seen. Try sticking stars on a calendar to keep track of your child's success.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You are concerned that your child is not growing or developing normally.
  • You are worried about your child's behaviour.
  • You need more information about how to care for your child, or you have questions or concerns.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.