Your child's developmental checks 3¼ to 3½ years

This check will happen between 3-and-a-quarter and 3-and-a-half years of age.

Posture and large movements

Posture is how your child holds their body.

Large movements (also called 'gross motor skills') are the movement and coordination of the arms, legs and other large body parts. Examples include sitting, crawling and walking.

The public health nurse will check or ask if your child:

  • jumps
  • climbs well
  • pedals a tricycle
  • turns around corners
  • walks forward, backwards and sideways
  • balances on 1 foot
  • sits with legs in front


If your child is a boy, the nurse will check their testicles (testes) to make sure they have moved down into the scrotum (this is called testicular descent).


The nurse will ask you about your child’s eyesight (vision).

They will check to see if your child’s eyes look in the same direction.

Fine movements

Fine movements (also called 'fine motor skills') are the use of smaller muscles like the muscles in hands, fingers and wrists.

The nurse will check if your child can:

  • pick up pins and threads
  • hold a pencil
  • copy a circle

Hearing and speech

The nurse will ask if your child passed the universal newborn hearing screening (UNHS) test shortly after birth.

They will ask if your child can hear:

  • you when you call from another room
  • television, radio and other devices at the same loudness level as other family members

The nurse will ask about your child’s speech.

They will check if your child can:

  • answer simple questions like “who?”, “what?”, “where?” and “why?”
  • talk about activities at play school or a friend’s home
  • usually be understood by people outside of the family
  • uses a lot of sentences that have 2 or more words - for example "mammy get in car" or "daddy eating dinner"
  • usually talk easily without repeating syllables or words

You will also be asked about your child’s interaction skills, for example if they can:

  • name familiar things
  • say their own first name, age and gender
  • use words like “I”, “me”, “we”, “you”
  • use some plural words like “cars”, “dogs”
  • understand words like “in”, “on” and “under”


The cognitive check looks at learning, thinking and problem-solving.

The nurse will ask if your child:

  • does puzzles with 3 to 4 pieces
  • turns one page at a time when looking at a book
  • builds a tower with 6 or more blocks
  • can work toys with buttons, levers and moving parts
  • screws and unscrews jar lids or turns door handles

Social, emotional, play and behaviour

The nurse will ask if your child:

  • uses imaginative play
  • takes turns
  • copies adults and friends [and siblings?]
  • shows affection to friends without being prompted or asked to do so
  • separates easily from their parents but may get upset with any major changes in their routine
  • holds eye contact
  • understands commands or instructions
  • is toilet trained
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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.

Page last reviewed: 20 November 2018
Next review due: 20 November 2021