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Guidelines

children bowling

National guidelines

The National Physical Activity Recommendations listed below outline how much physical activity is recommended for children under 5 years of age.

Infants

  • For healthy development in infants (birth to 1 year), physical activity – particularly supervised floor-based play in safe environments – should be encouraged from birth.

Toddlers and preschoolers

  • Toddlers (1 to 3 years of age) and pre-schoolers (3 to 5 years of age) should be physically active every day for at least three hours, spread throughout the day.
  • Children aged 2 to 5 years should spend less than 1 hour per day sitting and watching television and using other electronic media (DVDs, computers and other electronic games).
  • Children younger than 2 years should not spend any time watching television or using other electronic media (DVDs, computers and other electronic games).

All children

  • Infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers should not be sedentary, restrained, or kept inactive, for more than one hour at a time, with the exception of sleeping.

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.