Being active should be encouraged from birth. Before your baby begins to crawl, encourage them to be physically active by reaching and grasping, pulling and pushing, and moving their head, body and limbs during daily routines, and during supervised floor play, including tummy time.

Children who can walk on their own should be physically active every day for at least 180 minutes (3 hours), spread throughout the day, indoors or out.

Children love using their bodies to crawl, walk, run, jump and climb. The more opportunities you give them to burn off energy, the happier they’ll be.

You’ll probably find they sleep better and are more easygoing. By giving them the chance to exercise, you’ll be helping their muscle development and general fitness. It also starts habits that will help them grow into fit, healthy adults.

Child activity tips

Here are some ways to keep your child active:

  • Lay your baby down so that they can kick their legs.
  • Once your baby has started crawling, let them crawl around the floor.First, make sure it’s safe (see Home safety checklist).
  • Let your toddler walk with you rather than always using the buggy.
  • Toddlers and young children love going to the park, where they can climb and swing or just run around.
  • Toys that your child can pick up and move around will help improve their co-ordination and develop the muscles in their arms and hands.
  • There may be activities for parents and children at your local leisure centre and Sure Start Children’s Centre.
  • You can take your baby swimming from a very young age. There’s no need to wait until they’ve been immunised.

Further information

Physical activity guidelines for children (under 5)

Get active your way: ideas and advice