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Younger Kids

Active Younger Kids (Babies and toddlers)

We know how hard it can be to keep up with the little’uns, particularly on cold or rainy days!

With younger kids aged 0-5 being among those impacted most by lockdowns, it’s crucial to ensure we keep them active. This is not only to help their growth and muscle development, but to assist early brain development.

Check out our ideas for ways to keep our under 5’s physically active below. If your kids are aged over 5, check out our activities tailored to slightly older children here.

Young girl stretching
Boy playing in leaves
Girl on swing

How can I keep my younger kids active?

Many parents wonder how to keep their kids active as they grow, and just how active they should be.

Being active doesn’t necessarily mean leaping around or dancing. It can mean anything that gets them moving,

To keep younger kids aged 0-5 active at home, make sure they have plenty of enriching activities and exercises. These should be done for at least 180 minutes each day. This could be colouring, reading a story together, or working out some basic puzzle activities to keep their brains active.

Activities to try indoors

If it’s cold and wet outside, why not find something fun to do indoors? The resources listed will not only get the kids moving, but will get them thinking too, providing opportunities to learn!

Whether you’re joining in or working from home, these games should be safe for kids to do by themselves with your supervision. There are also designated activities for kids to do whilst parents are working from home here.

There’s a selection of activities to get you started – some can be done online whilst others with some basic equipment.

  • 10 Minute Shake Ups: Keep up with Dory, or freeze things with Elsa! Choose from activities themed around your kids’ favourite Disney characters to keep them entertained and active.
  • Cbeebies Join In: Cbeebies have worked hard to bring you a full suite of resources for pre-school aged children. From creative activities such as colouring and storytelling, to physical activities and games, there’s enough to keep them going all day.
  • Tiny Happy People: This BBC resource is aimed at 3-4 year olds. Whilst there are fun games and dances to try, there are also sleepy time games, and ways of encouraging your child to talk imaginatively so they can wind down after a day of fun.
Child making playdough
Boy trying new things on a walk

Activities to try outdoors

There are plenty of things you can do outdoors with the kids.

Try going for a walk together, and making a game out of it. You could tell a story about your walk and encourage kids to use their imagination. As well as this, you could use it as a chance to practise counting and see how many dog walkers you spot.

Here are some other ideas to get you started:

  • Whitlingham Spring Activities: The team at Whitlingham Adventure have been hard at work creating a spring bumper resource pack. There are also several suggestions which you could try with the kids.
  • The Early Years (0-4) | ParticipACTION: From those not yet mobile, up to pre-schoolers, there are resources to help you guide your child through their early years. This includes useful tips on how much they should be moving, to healthy sleep levels.
  • On The Move Outdoors: A series of accessible walks around Norfolk. Designed to make the routes accessible for all, they’re perfect for knowing if there’s a toilet nearby, or knowing if there’s a clear route for those with pushchairs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • Babies (Under 1 year): Try to encourage babies to be active for at least 30 minutes spread throughout the day. This could be tummy time if they’ve reached that stage, or encouraging them to reach, grasp, and move around.
  • Toddlers (Aged 1-2): Try to aim for at least 180 minutes (3 hours) of activity per day. This sounds like a lot, but can be spread out throughout the day, whether it’s running, playing, jumping, skipping or riding a bike.
  • Pre-schoolers (Aged 3-5): Aim for 180 minutes, or 3 hours of active play each day. This should include at least 60 minutes (1 hour) of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Try to avoid long periods of inactivity in children of this age where possible.

There is no ‘formula’ for how much young children should be sleeping. It depends on their age, and general sleep pattern outside nap time. However, as a rough guide on how much your child might nap, see below:

  • Baby (0-6 months): Young babies tend to sleep throughout the day, so don’t be concerned if you have a sleepy little one! It is estimated that infants need between 14-18 hours of sleep each day.
  • Baby (6-12 months): Babies of this age still need around 14 hours of sleep a day. A good schedule to try and stick by is two naps per day, which will encourage babies to sleep throughout the night.
  • Toddlers (1-3 years): Toddlers need 12-14 hours of sleep, and a recommended afternoon nap of between 1 and 3 hours. Some toddlers will happily nap for this long whilst others will resist; this may be because they’ve not been active enough throughout the day, in which case you might try one of the activities above to burn off some extra energy!
  • Pre-schoolers (3-5 years): With an average of around 11-12 hours sleep required, many children this age will still require a short afternoon nap of between 20 minutes to an hour. At this age, naps should be a little shorter but are still fine if required! Most young children give up regular napping by the age of 5.

More resources for younger kids

Below are some factsheets on how active younger kids should be at each age. There are also some tailored suggestions on how to keep them moving.

Thanks to the members of the Greater Manchester School Readiness Physical Development Task and Finish group with leadership from Stockport Council for their contributions.