The WHO encourages parents to allow their children ample time to exercise and sleep. Picture: FAMVELDMAN/123RF
The WHO encourages parents to allow their children ample time to exercise and sleep. Picture: FAMVELDMAN/123RF

Attention mom and dad: more physical activity, less sedentary screen time and sufficient sleep are the recommendations of new World Health Organisation guidelines for healthy infants and toddlers.

The UN-backed agency’s guidance to caregivers covers infants (less than 1 year); children 1–2 years; and children 3–4 years. Prior WHO recommendations covered ages 5-17, 18-64 and over 65 years.

Guidelines

Infants (less than 1 year) should:

  • Spend at least 30 minutes in prone position (tummy time) spread throughout the day while awake;
  • Not be restrained for more than an hour at a time (in eg prams, strollers or high chairs, or strapped on a caregiver’s back);
  • Not look at screens;
  • Have 14–17 hours (0–3 months of age) or 12–16 hours (4–11 months of age) of good-quality sleep, including naps.

Children 1–2 years of age should:

  • Spend at least 180 minutes in a variety of types of physical activities at any intensity, including moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity, spread throughout the day;
  • Not be restrained for more than an hour at a time or sit for extended periods;
  • Not sit looking at screens;
  • Have 11–14 hours of good-quality sleep, including naps, with regular sleep and wake-up times.

Children 3–4 years of age should:

 

  • Spend at least 180 minutes in a variety of types of physical activities at any intensity, of which at least 60 minutes is moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity, spread throughout the day;
  • Not be restrained for more than an hour at a time or sit for extended periods.
  • Be restricted to sedentary screen time of no more than onehour;
  • Have 10–13 hours of good-quality sleep, which may include a nap, with regular sleep and wake-up times.