Being active every day is important for the healthy growth and development of babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers.
For this age group, physical activity of all intensities should be encouraged, including both light moving around and more energetic activity.
How to keep your baby active
Before your baby begins to crawl, you can keep them physically active by:
- encouraging them to grasp and reach for toys
- getting them to move their limbs, head and body around throughout the day
- supervised floor play, including tummy time
How to keep your infant or toddler active
Once your baby can move around themselves, encourage them to be as active as possible in a safe, supervised and nurturing play environment.
When your child can walk on their own, they should be physically active for at least 3 hours every day. You can spread this throughout the day, indoors or outdoors. This can include light activity and play like:
- getting up and walking around
Ensure some of this time includes more active play, like:
- riding a bike
- going swimming
- using a climbing frame
- ball games
These are all great ways of getting you toddler active.
Read more about activities you can do together.
Why it's important to keep all children under 5 active
Children under 5 should not be inactive for long periods, except of course when they're asleep. Watching TV, travelling by car, bus or train, or being strapped into a buggy for long periods of time are not good for a child's growth and development. There's an increasing amount of evidence that such behaviour can increase their risk of poor health.
Children under 5 who are overweight can improve their health by meeting the activity guidelines, even if their weight doesn't change. To achieve and maintain a healthy weight, they may need to do additional activity and make dietary changes.
If you think your child may be overweight and would like more advice, speak to your GP, midwife or health visitor.