Babies 0-1 years

Tummy Time baby

It is just as important for newborn babies to be active as it is for toddlers and older children. Babies need lots of opportunities for free movement in a safe, supervised and nurturing play environment. Before your baby begins to crawl, encourage your baby to be physically active by reaching, rolling, pulling, pushing and learning to move their head, arms, legs and body.

Babies need to be active several times a day, especially through interactive floor-based play, including tummy time. Play on a floor mat with your baby - it's a good excuse to have a lie down and a little relax while you are at it! It's also recommended to place your baby on his or her tummy for a short time every day too. This will help to stretch and develop your baby's muscles. Try putting a toy just outside their reach, so they have to make an extra effort to stretch and reach for it. Always supervise your baby when playing on their tummy. Never let your baby fall asleep on their tummy.

It is also important that the amount of time your baby is not active is limited to no more than an hour at a time, except when they are sleeping. This includes time spent in restricted positions in cars seats, bouncers and walkers.

Time watching television is not recommended at all for children under two years of age.

  Toddler 1-3 years

Dad and girl in pool

Toddlers who are walking, need to be active every day for at least three hours spread throughout the day.

This includes light activities, such as building blocks or playing on the floor and more vigorous activities such as running and jumping. Three hours might seem like a lot, but young children are naturally active and as you probably know already are always ‘on the go’.

It is also important that the amount of time your young child is not active is limited to no more than an hour at a time except when they are sleeping. Time watching television or other screen-related activities should be limited to a maximum of one hour per day for children over two years of age. Rest in between active play is important too, napping and activities such as drawing, listening to stories and making puzzles all contribute to your child’s overall health and development.

 

Children 3 - 6 years

Boys on scooters

All children aged over 3, who are capable of walking unaided, should be physically active every day for at least three hours spread throughout the day.

Of this, at least one hour (60 minutes) should consist of structured energetic activity such as swimming or playing a game of chase. It does not all need to take place at once - short sessions of 10-15 minutes can be built up over the day.It is also important that the amount of time your young child is not active is limited to no more than an hour at a time except when they are sleeping.

  • Time watching television or other screen related activities should be limited to a maximum of one hour per day.
  • Children need daily opportunities to play outdoors as well as indoors.
  • Children need daily opportunities to develop a wide range of movement skills such as using a climbing frame, riding a bike, playing in water, chasing games and ball games.

Get creative as you search for activities your child enjoys. If your child is artistically inclined, take a nature hike to collect leaves and rocks for use in a collage. If your child likes to climb, head for the nearest indoor play area. If your child likes to read, walk or bike to a local library for a book. Or simply turn on your child's favourite music and dance in the living room.

I remember taking a photograph the first time my son discovered he could put his toes in his mouth and the look of pure amazement on his face. I was lying beside him on the bed while he was lying on his back touching and grabbing his feet. Then he brought up his tiny, little foot further towards his mouth and suddenly hey presto, he popped his toes into his mouth. His gummy smile spread across his face and his eyes lit up in sheer delight.

Peter, Donegal