Physical Development of Children Ages 3-5

By Amy Sutton
A woman in the park watching her children play with balloons.
A woman in the park watching her children play with balloons.

Between the ages of 3 and 5, your child will go through many physical changes. While no two children are alike, there are some milestones to watch for as your preschooler grows and continues to amaze you. These include increases in height and weight, as well as the development of gross and fine motor skills.

Physical Growth

During the preschool years of 2 to 5, your child will start gaining strength and will begin to look more lean and long. In her third year, she will likely grow approximately 2 to 3 inches and gain around 4 more pounds, notes KidsHealth. Between the ages of 4 and 5, your little one will grow approximately 2 to 3 inches more and gain 4 to 5 pounds more. On average, a 4-year-old will be around 40 inches tall and weigh about 40 pounds.

Gross Motor Skills

Gross motor skills are bigger movements of the body that occur when muscles, the brain and nervous system all work together. Typically these involve larger muscles in the body, including the feet, legs, arms and torso. At 3 years old, your child's gross motor skills are improving and may include climbing stairs, throwing a ball overhand, playing catch and kicking a large ball, according to the University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development. By age 4, your child can likely hop, swing, skip and stand on one foot. Typically, a 5-year-old will be able to catch a ball easily, walk backward and tumble.

Fine Motor Skills

Fine motor skills are the smaller movements of your body, such as those made by the tongue, lips, toes, fingers and wrists. Your 3-year-old's fine motor skills may include drawing squares and circles, using scissors and copying capital letters, according to HealthyChildren.org. When she reaches the age of 4, your child may be able to hold a pencil correctly, thread beads onto a string and make shapes using modeling clay. Fine motor skills at age 5 include getting dressed and undressed without help, using silverware correctly and copying geometric patterns.

Potential Concerns

Your pediatrician will document your child's development on a growth chart. If your child fails to grow at a normal pace, the chart will reflect this. If growth seems notably slow, your physician will try to pinpoint the cause. If you are concerned about your child's growth or you feel that he is not reaching milestones, it's important to speak with his pediatrician. Keep in mind that milestones should be used as a general guide and that not all children reach them at the same time, according to the University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development.

Supporting Healthy Growth

As a parent, there are some things you can do to help your child grow up healthy. Be a good role model by eating and serving healthy meals, suggests the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Limit foods with added salt, fat and sugar. Encourage an active lifestyle by limiting TV time, and playing ball or other games with your preschooler to keep her moving.