Children love to play and be active! Being physically active every day is important for the healthy growth and development of infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers. Physical activity for children includes both structured activities and unstructured free play, and can be done indoors or out.
Being physically active every day is fun and can:
- Help achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
- Build strong bones and muscles.
- Improve balance, movement and co-ordination skills.
- Promote social skills through interactions with people.
- Support brain development.
- Encourage self-confidence and independence.
Whatever their level of ability, children need to be active.
What physical activity does my child need?
Infants (Birth to 1 year)
Physical activity particularly through supervised interactive floor-based play in safe environments should be encouraged from birth. For those not yet mobile, 30 minutes of tummy time including reaching and grasping, pushing and pulling, and crawling spread throughout the day during awake periods is encouraged.
Toddlers (1 to 2 years)
Should spend at least 180 minutes a day doing a variety of physical activities including energetic play such as running, jumping and twirling spread throughout the day- noting more is better.
Pre-schoolers (3 to 5 years)
Should spend at least 180 minutes a day in a variety of physical activities, of which 60 minutes is energetic play such as running, jumping and kicking and throwing, spread throughout the day – noting more is better.
What about time spent sitting or being inactive?
Infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers should not be sedentary, restrained, or kept inactive, for more than one hour at a time, with the exception of sleeping.
Tips for active play:
Choose ‘active’ toys. For infants, choose boxes, pots, pans, streamers, hoops and toys that encourage reaching, stretching, crawling and moving. Play materials don’t need to be expensive and can be found around the house.
For toddlers and pre-schoolers, choose toys and play materials that encourage movement and help develop skills like running, kicking, throwing and catching, such as balls, bats, tricycles and kites.
When you can, involve all of the family – try walking to the park, a visit to the zoo for a special treat, or playing soccer in the backyard.
Being outdoors is best – just make sure kids have sun protection, such as sunscreen, hats and shade. If the weather is no good, head indoors and build cubby houses or play hide and seek.
Encourage children to be independent and to explore the world around them. Allow them the freedom to create, imagine and direct their own play, while maintaining a safe environment. This will help your child’s confidence grow!
Source: Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. (2018, April 22). New Physical Activity Recommendations for Children 0- 5 Years.
Retrieved from Move and play every day
Australian Government Department of Health. (2018, April 22). Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines. Retrieved from https://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines