Fact sheet: Movement and exercise: 0-5 years

From the Centre for Community Child Health

You can help to give your child a lifelong love of exercise and movement by being active yourself, and by cheering them along as they discover physical activity.

Laughing young girl sitting next to pool and kicking water up.

Birth to 1 year

It might seem funny to think of movement for little babies, but supervised floor-based play is a great way to get started:

  • Tummy time helps babies develop their neck muscles, an essential early movement skill.
  • Soft toys encourage touching, holding, reaching, pushing and pulling.

Once infants are mobile, you can:

  • Encourage movement by playing music and making noise with objects.
  • Create tunnels out of chairs or boxes to make moving even more of an adventure.

Tip: Try to avoid television, especially fast-paced shows. If your child does watch TV, share the songs and actions together!

1 to 5 years

Your toddler or preschooler needs to aim to be physically active every day for at least three hours! That sounds like a lot, but every little bit adds up and most toddlers and preschoolers will naturally want to move this much and more.

Fun ways to encourage your child to move:

  • visit playgrounds
  • play games like obstacle courses, follow the leader or tip/tag

On rainy days, try:

  • playing dress ups
  • yoga and stretching
  • moving like different animals - gallop like horses!

More information

You can find more helpful information on the Raising Children Network. If more help is needed please consult your family doctor or paediatrician.

Illustrated guides

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