24-Hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years

By Heather Cowie, The City of Calgary Recreation

It goes without saying that we want the best for our kids! As parents and caregivers, we try to do our best to navigate the messages, images, pressures, and expectations that come along with caring for a child, but it is not an easy task. As a long-time recreation professional and parent of a 19-year-old, I know how hard parenting is, and I am lucky enough to have help along the way!

These days, one of the messages we often hear is our kids are more sedentary than ever before. What does that mean? Well, can you believe that only 9 per cent of Canadian kids between the ages of 5 to 17 get the recommended 60 minutes of heart-pumping activity recommended each day? Think about that: only 9 per cent. That means that in a group of 10 children, only 1 child is getting enough physical activity each day!

Recently, ParticipACTION came out with the “Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years (0 to 4 Years)” and split them into three important categories: Moving, Sleeping, and Sitting. What if we all started thinking about our days using these three categories? As parents and caregivers, we know that little ones need their sleep, and, let’s face it, so do parents! However, the amount of time spent moving versus sitting is a critical factor in growth and development. All people, of any age, cannot function properly without the right combination of sleeping, moving around, and sitting. It’s critical for us to be mindful of how much time is spent on each of these categories daily, and to teach our children healthy habits early on in life.

Although it can seem challenging, breaking up your child’s day to include more movement and active play is easy! Think about getting outside to your local playground or park, play or create movement-based activities at home, or access the many low cost and/or free activities throughout Calgary, many of which are listed in Calgary’s Child Magazine!

We all want the best for our kids, so let’s get them started on the right foot!

Check out this chart to see what guidelines are recommended for your child’s age:

Infants (less than 1 year old)

MOVE SLEEP SIT
Being physically active several times in a variety of ways, particularly through interactive floor-based play; more is better. For those not yet mobile, this includes at least 30 minutes of tummy time spread throughout the day while awake. 14 to 17 hours for 0 to 3 month olds or

12 to 16 hours for 4 to 11 month olds of good quality sleep including naps.

Not being restrained for more than 1 hour at a time (e.g., in a stroller or high chair).

Screen time is not recommended.

When sedentary, engaging in pursuits such as reading and storytelling with a caregiver is encouraged.

Toddlers (1 to 2 years old) 

MOVE SLEEP SIT
At least 180 minutes spent in a variety of physical activities at any intensity, including energetic play, spread throughout the day – more is better! 11 to 14 hours of good quality sleep, including naps, with consistent bedtimes and wake-up times. Not being restrained for more than 1 hour at a time (e.g., in a stroller or high chair) or sitting 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 and storytelling with a caregiver is encouraged.

Preschoolers (3 to 4 years old)

MOVE SLEEP SIT
At least 180 minutes spent in a variety of physical activities at any intensity, including energetic play, spread throughout the day – more is better! 10 to 13 hours of good-quality sleep, including naps, with consistent bedtimes and wake-up times.

 

Not being restrained for more than 1 hour at a time (e.g., in a stroller or car seat) or sitting for extended periods.

Sedentary screen time should be no more than 1 hour less is better.

When sedentary, engaging in pursuits such as reading and storytelling with a caregiver is encouraged.

Heather proudly works for The City of Calgary Recreation Department and believes that together, we can impact activity levels of kids in this country.