New guidelines for play

Regular active play and good quality sleep are among new activity guidelines recommended by the Ministry of Health for under-fives.

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

The ‘Sit Less, Move More, Sleep Well: Active play guidelines for under-fives ’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,” says Jonathan.

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 released recently.

They are one of a range of initiatives being undertaken as part of the government’s Childhood Obesity Plan and are part of a wider work plan to ensure that New Zealanders live active, healthy lives.

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 14-17 hours every day (for babies), 12-15 hours every day (for infants), 11-14 hours every day (for toddlers), and 10-13 hours every day (for pre-schoolers), with consistent bed and wake-up times.