Move and play every day in early years

Move and play every day in early years

The new 24 Hour Movement Guidelines are a guide for parents and carers to create healthy and safe daily routines for children under five, to support growth and development.

We know the right mix of physical activity, enough sleep and less time sitting (particularly in front of screens) is good for learning, thinking, the growth of strong bones and muscles, and has many other health benefits.

Below are the recommended times parents and carer’s can consider for their child’s physical activity, sedentary behaviour (activities involving sitting) and sleep in any 24 hour period.

Moving more

  • Babies under one year: Get babies active in different ways several times a day. This can include supervised floor-based play like tummy time with reaching and grasping for objects, pushing and pulling toys, and crawling for babies on the move!
  • Toddlers one to two years: Get toddlers active for three hours or more over the day. Give them plenty of energetic play activities like jumping, running and twirling.
  • Pre-schoolers three to five: Get toddlers active for three hours or more over the day. Spend an hour in energetic play like running, jumping, throwing and kicking a ball.

Too much sitting

  • Babies under one year: Avoid using screens for this age group. Minimise the time babies spend in a pram, car seat or high chair – no more than one hour at a time is best.
  • Toddlers one to two years: Screen time is not recommended. Minimise the time toddlers spend in a pram, car seat or high chair – no more than one hour at a time is best. Breakup play involving sitting, like reading and puzzles, with active play.
  • Pre-schoolers three to five years: Keep screen time involving sitting to no more than one hour. Minimise time in a pram or car seat – no more than one hour at a time is best. Breakup activities like reading, puzzles and craft involving sitting with active play.

Sleeping

  • Babies under one: Plan for 14 to 17 hours (birth to three months) or 12 to 16 hours (four to 11 months) of good quality sleep, including naps.
  • Toddlers one to two years: Plan for 11 to 14 hours of good quality sleep, including naps, with a regular sleep and wake-up routine.
  • Pre-schoolers three to five years: Plan for 10 to 13 hours of good quality sleep, which may include a nap, with a regular sleep and wake-up routine.

Changing children’s daily routines can be challenging, so start by making small changes to get the right balance of physical activity, sitting time and sleep for your child’s growth and development.

For more under-fives physical activity ideas see Being Active Matters on the the Healthy kids home page. For a full copy of the 24 Hour Movement Guidelines for the early years

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