Modern living means that we're not as active as previous generations were. With more time spent sitting still, we're not moving about as much as we used to and bodies are designed to move throughout the day, everyday.
Right from birth, young children need movement through play to build healthy bodies, brains and minds. Active play also helps develop their communication and many other important life skills.
There are now guidelines for parents, carers and those working with babies and toddlers about the benefits of them having enough activity every day.
Move More, Sit Less
Reducing Sedentary Behaviour
Recent evidence shows the harmful risks of children sitting around or being restrained for long periods of time e.g. watching TV, sitting in car seats or pushchairs etc.
For healthy development and to reduce the risks of your child becoming overweight, the recommended amount of physical activity for early years (0-5) is:
- Physical activity should be encouraged from birth, particularly through floor-based play and water-based activities in safe environments ('Child Safety' info below).
- Children of pre-school age who are capable of walking unaided should be physically active daily for at least 180 minutes (3 hours), spread throughout the day.
- All under 5's should minimise the amount of time spent being sedentary (being restrained or sitting still).
These guidelines are part of an evidence-based report called, 'Start Active, Stay Active', published in 2011 by the four Chief Medical Officers of the UK.
Tips for active children
Encouraging your child to find activities they enjoy and building physical activity into family life means the whole family can join in, have fun and spend time together. Most children love running around a park or playing in the garden or front room. Dressing children in clothing that doesn't restrict their movements where ever they are means they can move about more freely. Try not to be put off by bad weather but dress appropriately, or if the weather is really rough, then there are lots of activities that can be done indoors instead.
The Fun Generator from Change 4 Life has over a hundred games and ideas for kids to have fun - indoors or out, rain or shine!
As babies and children develop and begin to move about more minor accidents are an inevitable part of life. These accidents are usually easily treated and learning how to stay safe are essential stages in child development. There are things we can do or equipment we can use to make accidents less likely to happen such as stair gates, cupboard locks, fire guards etc. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents or RoSPA has more information and advice for parents and carers of young children.
If you would like further information, please consult the 'helpful links' section on this page.
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