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Guidelines

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National Physical Activity Guidelines

The Australian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years (birth to 5 years) listed below outline how much physical activity is recommended for healthy growth and development in children aged birth to 5 years.

Infants (under 1 year of age)

  • Physical activity, particularly through supervised interactive floor-based play in safe environments, should be encouraged from birth. For those not yet mobile, this should include 30 minutes of tummy time (including reaching and grasping, pushing and pulling, and crawling) spread throughout the day during awake periods.
  • Infants should not being restrained for more than 1 hour at a time (e.g. in a stroller, car seat or high chair).
  • Screen time is not recommended.
  • When sedentary, engaging in pursuits such as reading, singing, puzzles and storytelling with a caregiver is encouraged.

Toddlers (1-2 years)

  • Toddlers should spend at least 180 minutes in a variety of physical activities, including energetic play, spread throughout the day; more is better.
  • Toddlers should not be restrained for more than 1 hour at a time (e.g. in a stroller, car seat or high chair) or sit for extended periods.
  • For those younger than 2 years, sedentary screen time is not recommended.
  • For those aged 2 years, sedentary screen time should be no more than 1 hour; less is better.
  • When sedentary, engaging in pursuits such as reading, singing, puzzles and storytelling with a caregiver is encouraged

Preschoolers (3-5 years)

  • Pre-schoolers should spend at least 180 minutes in a variety of physical activities, of which at least 60 minutes is energetic play, spread throughout the day; more is better.
  • Pre-schoolers should not be restrained for more than 1 hour at a time (e.g. in a stroller or car seat) or sit for extended periods.
  • Sedentary screen time should be no more than 1 hour in total throughout the 24-hour period; less is better.
  • When pre-schoolers are sedentary, caregivers are encouraged to engage with them through activities such as reading, singing, puzzles and storytelling.

Early childhood services have a responsibility to promote the health of the children in their care, including adequate physical activity. This is reinforced under the National Quality Framework for Early Education and Care. Early childhood service practices and policies should address issues of safety, fundamental movement skills, active play and sedentary behaviour.

Safety

Safety is paramount. Early childhood services must provide an environment that supports safe, active play, minimising the risk of injury or accident to children, staff and visitors. Ways that early childhood services can keep children safe during physical activity include:

  • Implementation of policies that promote safe learning environments.
  • Close supervision of all activities.
  • Developmentally appropriate experiences.
  • Sufficient safe space for all physical activities.
  • Well maintained safe equipment and developmentally appropriate resources that do not present a hazard. 
  • Guidance on appropriate clothing and footwear that allows mobility.
  • Consideration of children with health issues that may impact on their ability to participate in physical activity. 
  • Promotion of sun safety by following the Cancer Council’s SunSmart Guidelines when children are playing outdoors.
  • Compliance with licensing and accreditation requirements with risks managed or avoided as appropriate.
  • Play surfacing and equipment that meets the current Australian Standards and Guidelines and are appropriate
  • Encouragement of adequate hydration before, during and after physical activity.