National guidelines on childhood physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep

The Federal Department of Health produces national guidelines on childhood physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep with the aim of promoting healthier and more active kids.

The Australian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines provide recommendations on the right balance of physical activity, inactivity and sleep for children and young people from birth to 17 years.

Birth to 5 years 

The Australian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years (Birth to 5 Years) recommend the following:

Sleep
• Newborns 0-3 months need 14-17 hours of good quality sleep (including naps)
• Babies 4-11 months need 12-16 hours of good quality sleep (including naps)
• Toddlers 1-2 years need 11-14 hours of good quality sleep (including naps)
• Pre-schoolers 3-5 years need 10-13 hours of good quality sleep (including naps).

Physical activity
• Babies under 1 year:  Physical activity several times a day in a variety of ways eg crawling, tummy time (at least 30 minutes a day), reaching and grasping, pushing and pulling
• Toddlers 1-2 years: At least 180 minutes spent in a variety of physical activities, including energetic play, spread throughout the day; more is better
• Pre-schoolers 3-5 years: At least 180 minutes spent in a variety of physical activities, of which at least 60 minutes is energetic play, spread throughout the day; more is better.

Inactivity
• Babies under 1 year: Not being restrained for more than 1 hour at a time (e.g. in a stroller, car seat or high chair)
• Screen time is not recommended 
• When sedentary, engaging in pursuits such as reading, singing, puzzles and storytelling with a caregiver is encouraged.

Toddlers 1-2 years: 
• Not being restrained for more than 1 hour at a time (e.g., in a stroller, car seat or high chair) or sitting for extended periods. 
• For those younger than 2 years, sedentary screen time is not recommended. 
• For those aged 2 years, sedentary screen time should be no more than 1 hour; less is better. 
• When sedentary, engaging in pursuits such as reading, singing, puzzles and storytelling with a caregiver is encouraged.

Pre-schoolers 3-5 years: 
• Not being restrained for more than 1 hour at a time (e.g., in a stroller or car seat) or sitting for extended periods. 
• Sedentary screen time should be no more than 1 hour; less is better. 
• When sedentary, engaging in pursuits such as reading, singing, puzzles and storytelling with a caregiver is encouraged.

5 to 17 years 

The Australian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Young People (5-17 years) recommend the following:

Sleep
• Younger children (5–13 years) need 9–11 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night
• Teens (14–17 years) need 8–10 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night
• Consistent bed and wake-up times.

Physical activity
• Aim for 60 minutes or more per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity. The more huff and puff the better
• Several hours of a variety of light physical activities (including play)
• Activities that  strengthen muscle and bone should be incorporated at least three days per week.

Inactivity
• Break up long periods of sitting as often as possible
• Limiting sedentary recreational screen time to no more than two hours per day. 

Other guidelines provide recommendations for other age groups.

See the Federal Department of Health (external site) for more information.