First-ever physical activity guidelines for under 5's released

31 May 2017
Girl running

The government has released the first-ever physical activity guidelines for under 5s: ‘Sit Less, Move More, Sleep Well: Active play guidelines for under-fives’.

The Health Minister, Dr Jonathan Coleman says regular active play and good quality sleep are important to every child’s health and development, but are particularly important for our young children.

“These are the first activity guidelines that support families to raise healthy under-fives by providing comprehensive advice on physical activity, active play, sleep and screen time for under-fives.

“New Zealand is the first country to integrate sleep with its advice for parents and caregivers of children under five years, which shows a more holistic approach to children’s health and development.”

The new guidelines, published by the Ministry of Health together with Sport New Zealand complement the physical activity guidelines for 5 – 17 year olds which were recently released.

The advice in the guidelines includes:

  • Discouraging screen time for children under two and limiting screen time to less than one hour every day for children aged two and over
  • Providing regular activity breaks to limit the amount of time a child spends sitting
  • Plenty of opportunities for active play (at least three hours per day for toddlers and pre-schoolers)
  • Good-quality sleep of 14 to 17 hours every day (for babies), 12 to 15 hours every day (for infants), 11 to 14 hours every day (for toddlers), and 10 to 13 hours every day (for pre-schoolers), with consistent bed and wake-up times.

The guidelines are part of a  22-pronged approach to address childhood obesity through the government's Childhood Obesity Plan.

The guidelines were developed by the Ministry of Health, working with Sport New Zealand, the Health Promotion Agency and an advisory group of experts on physical activity and child health and wellbeing. The Ministry also consulted with a wide range of stakeholders.

The Sit Less, Move More, Sleep Well – Active play guidelines for under-fives are available here.