How Much Should Your Child Move, Sleep and Sit During the Day?

A 2017 study conducted by the University of Hong Kong revealed that the rate of screen use in Hong Kong kids is “alarming”, particularly in preschool age children. They spend more time in front of screens, less time being physically active, and go to bed later than their counterparts around the world. Overuse of digital devices in preschoolers can lead to increased risks of obesity, behavioral problems, and poor academic performance when they begin primary school.

 

We at Healthy Matters found some credible and easy-to-digest recommendations on how much your little one should move, sleep and sit throughout the day. The Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years that were published in November 2017 are the world’s first evidence-based guidelines to address your infant, toddler or preschooler’s day.

 

So what should your child’s sleep and movement behavior look like during the day? Read and get moving! Setting good habits and routines early helps kids to grow, develop and thrive.

 

Infants (0-1 year)

Move

Infants need active time in order to build their strength, literally from the ground up! Infants who are less than a year should be active multiple times throughout the day, particularly with floor-based play. Non-mobile infants should spend at least 30 minutes doing tummy time across the 24-hour period. For children under one year, active play includes reaching, grasping, pushing, pulling, and crawling.

 

Sleep

Total hours of sleep in 24 hours should be 14-17 hours for infants under 3 months old and 12-16 hours in infants between 4 and 11 months. This includes daytime naps.

 

Sit

Infants should not be restrained for more than one hour at a time in a highchair, car seat, stroller or bouncy seat. When they are sedentary, the Guidelines recommend caregivers to engage with interactions such as reading, storytelling, singing and puzzles. Screen time is not recommended.

 

Toddlers (1-2 years)

Move

Toddlers are active, curious and thrive on movement. They need 3 hours of physical activity throughout the day, including energetic play. This can include dancing, running, jumping, playing in the playground, catching, kicking, or anything else that gets them moving.

 

Sleep

All that movement necessitates a lot of sleep! Toddlers require regular nap schedules, bedtimes and wake-up times with a total of 11-14 hours of sleep over the 24-hour period.

 

Sit

As with infants, toddlers should not be restrained for more than one hour at a time in a highchair, car seat, stroller or bouncy seat. When they are sedentary, the Guidelines recommend caregivers to engage with interactions such as reading, storytelling, singing and puzzles. Screen time is not recommended for children under 2; for 2-year-old toddlers, screen time should not exceed 1 hour – less is better.

 

Preschoolers (3-4 years)

Move

Preschoolers should spend at least 3 hours, spread throughout the day doing physical activities, of which at least 60 minutes should be energetic play. You guessed it, more movement is better for preschoolers too. Like toddlers, preschoolers should spend time dancing, running, jumping, playing in the playground, catching, kicking, or anything else that gets them moving.

 

Sleep

Like toddlers, preschoolers require consistent nap, bed and wake-times. Children at preschool age require 10-13 hours of sleep across the 24-hour period.

 

Sit

Like younger children, preschoolers should not be restrained for more than one hour at a time in a highchair, car seat, stroller or bouncy seat. When they are sedentary, the Guidelines recommend caregivers to engage with interactions such as reading, storytelling, singing and puzzles. Screen time should not exceed 1 hour – less is better.

 

This article was independently written by Healthy Matters and not sponsored. It is informative only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.