Group of children running in field

The Department of Health has released new movement guidelines to help parents and carers create healthy daily practices for babies and young children. The Guidelines outline what a typical day for a baby, toddler or pre-schooler would look like, including advice on screen time, active play, time spent sitting and lying down, and the ideal amount of sleep.

They aim to provide parents with useful information to consider in developing routines for their kids.

Following the Guidelines is associated with better growth, stronger muscles and bones, better learning and thinking, better mental, emotional and social well-being, better motor skills, healthier weight, as well as reduced injuries.

Any new parent knows that sleep is essential for a healthy child. The guidelines recommend that within a 24 hour period, babies get between 12 and 17 hours of good quality sleep, toddlers 11 to 14 hours and pre-schoolers 10 to 13 hours.

The time spent in active play will vary, depending on a child’s age. Experts suggest encouraging children to try a range of activities suited to their age such as obstacle courses, hide and seek, dancing and skipping.

And quieter, slower paced activities such as puzzles, painting, water play, singing and craft are also important, particularly when a parent or carer shares the activity with the child.

While changing a routine may seem difficult, experts suggest parents can gradually make positive changes to help their child be healthier, happier, smarter and stronger.

You don’t have to change everything within a day and can start by adding more movement, engaging quiet play and sleep over time.

The research has been led by Professor Tony Okely from the University of Wollongong.

The evidence supporting the 24-Hour Movement Guidelines is so strong the approach is being considered by the World Health Organization for the development of global guidelines for children under the age of 5 years.

Find out more

Download the guidelines