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During the early years, young children undergo rapid and wide-ranging physical and psychological developments that lay the foundation for their future health and well-being. It is therefore a key public health responsibility to provide the best possible conditions for under 5s to develop.  

The new guidelines for early years are aimed at the following groups:
These guidlines reflect a growing awareness that early life experiences impact upon future health outcomes, and draw on notable recent advances in the science of physical activity and health.

  1. Physical activity should be encouraged from birth, particularly through floor-based play and water-based activities in safe environments.
  2. 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.
  3. All under 5's should minimise the amount of time spent being sedentary (being restrained or sitting, for example in push chairs or baby bouncers) for extended periods (except time spent sleeping).

Information leaflets for parents are also available. These provide tips on how parents can incorporate physical activity into daily activities as well as the types of activity their child needs. There is a leaflet with ideas for activities with babies who cannot yet walk and one for young children who can.

Download: Help your baby move and play every day

Download: Help your child move and play every day


    If you would like further information, please consult the 'helpful links' section on this page.

    Fact Zone

    You burn 50 more calories an hour when standing than when sitting
    Spending too much time sitting puts your health at risk


    Helpful Links