Healthy kids: keeping 0-5-year-olds active
Small children, even babies, need to be active in order to develop. Here are some helpful guidelines for developing healthy habits early in life.
Being active every day is essential to the healthy growth and development of infants, toddlers and preschoolers, the Department of Health (DoH) advises. This can include both structured activities and unstructured free play, indoors or outside.
- achieving and maintaining healthy weight
- building strong bones and muscles
- improving balance and coordination
- promoting social skills through interaction with others
- supporting brain development
- encouraging confidence and independence.
Keep your baby as active as possible by:
- superivising floor-based play every day, especially tummy time
- encouraging them to stretch and grasp by placing toys just out of reach
- playing push and pull games with balls and soft toys
- playing music to encourage movement
- playing during bath time.
Toddlers and preschoolers
Children under five should be physically active for three hours daily, spread over the day. Some ideas for activities include:
- playing with balls
- games such as hide and seek, follow the leader or tag
- moving to music
- riding tricycles
- pretending to be different animals
- dressing up and play acting.
Choose active toys like boxes, pots and pans, streamers, and hula hoops that promote reaching, stretching, crawling and moving.
The DoH doesn't recommend competitive sports for this age group, and also advises – even though it may be tough to implement at first – limiting sedentary screen-time including watching TV and using tech devices such as tablets.
Encourage your children to play outside independently and explore the world as much as possible, and let them direct their own play. Developing the imagination is important too.