Get Up & Grow: Healthy Eating and Physical Activity for Early Childhood - Family Book

Times when children are not active

Page last updated: 06 June 2011

There will always be times when children are not active. Every child needs time for activities like listening to stories, reading, drawing and puzzles, or simply time to sit quietly. These kinds of activities are also important for learning and development.

Other types of non-active activities are not essential, such as screen-based activities like watching television. As previously state, screen-time is not recommended at all for children under two years. It is recommended that for children two to five years of age, screen-time is limited to less than one hour per day. This includes television, watching DVDs and playing video or computer games.

Regardless of the activity, it is recommended that children are not kept restrained or inactive for more than one hour at a time during waking hours. Children who spend long periods of time sitting or being inactive are more likely to have poorer physical, social and intellectual development. For young children, this includes long periods of time in high chairs, car seats or strollers.

Providing a number of opportunities for physical activity during the day is an important part of promoting a healthy lifestyle. It is equally as important to reduce the total amount of time that your child is inactive, no matter how active they may be at other times.

Why limit screen-time for two-to five-year-olds?

For toddlers and pre-schoolers, long periods of screen-time mean less opportunity for active, outdoor and creative play, and fewer of the associated benefits. It also leads to less healthy eating habits, and slower development of language, memory and thinking skills.

Some early childhood settings may decide not to offer screen-time as part of their program. You may also want to make a plan for reducing screen-time at home - think about incorporating some of the suggested play ideas included in this book.

Recommendations summary for birth to five years Birth - 1 year 1 - 2 years 2 - 3 years 3 - 5 years
Physical activity recommendation Physical activity should be encouraged from birth. Should be physically active every day for at least three hours, spread throughout the day. Should be physically active every day for at lease three hours, spread throughout the day. Should be physically active every day for at least three hours, spread throughout the day.
Sedentary recommendation - scree-time Should not spend any time watching television or using other electronic media (DVDs, computer and other electronic games). Should not spend any time watching television or using other electronic media (DVDs, computer and other electronic games). Sitting and watching television and the use of other electronic media (DVDs, computer and other electronic games) should be limited to less than one hour per day. Sitting and watching television and the use of other electronic media (DVDs, computer and other electronic games) should be limited to less than one hour per day.
Sedentary recommendation - prolonged inactivity Should not be sedentary, restrained or kept inactive for more than one hour at a time, with the exception of sleeping. Should not be sedentary, restrained or kept inactive for more than one hour at a time, with the exception of sleeping. Should not be sedentary, restrained or kept inactive for more than one hour at a time, with the exception of sleeping. Should not be sedentary, restrained or kept inactive for more than one hour at a time, with the exception of sleeping.