Few WHO guidelines for children under 5 years

Main points

  • Sedentary screen time and restrained periods for kids can be replaced with various effective activities bringing additional health benefits.

Physical activities, sleeping for health and well-being and controlled screen-based sedentary activities are very much beneficial for a growing child under age 5. WHO specified the amount of time period that a child should occupy with the above-mentioned activities.

So, we believe that parents should be aware of these specific time allocations for physical activities, sleep, and sedentary time.

Physical activities for your child

For infants

According to the WHO recommendation, Infants ( Less than one year ) should be physically active several times a day. They use a variety of ways for this.

You can engage your infant with floor-based therapy a few times a day which is very much beneficial for their development. Try to engage in more and more play activities on floor mats with prone positions for at least 30 minutes a day.

These prone positions ( tummy time activities ) activities can perform while the child is awake in the daytime and can be spread throughout the day.

Floor based therapy

This term originates because the parent gets down on the floor with the child to play and perform various interactive activities with the child. The goal of floor time is very important.

The parents can help children to expand their nonverbal communication circles. Therapists and parents enjoy playtime with child preferred activities.

The floortime approach should be carried out in a  calm environment in a home or in a professional setting. Therapy sessions can be 15 minutes to 30 minutes and more per day is recommended.

For toddlers ( 1-3 Years )

WHO  recommends children 1-2 years of age should spend at least 180 minutes with various physical activities at any intensity and physical activities with moderate to vigorous intensity throughout the day. So we can recommend more physical activities because of this evidence.

For preschoolers ( 3-6 years )

WHO recommends children 3-4years of age should spend at least 180 minutes a day at any intensity of a variety of physical activities and 60-80 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activities are recommended.

Sedentary time for your child

What is sedentary time?

Nonscreen-based sedentary time

This is the time that the child is spending his/her time in a sitting position and he is not using the screen-based activities. For young children this sedentary means lying on a mat, sitting on a high chair, pram, or a stroller with very little movement or reading, or doing some activity in a sitting position.

Sedentary screen time 

This is the Time spent passively watching screen-based entertainment (TV, computer, mobile devices) and this does not include active screen-based games where physical activity or movement is required

Secondary time for infants

Less than one year babies should not be restrained for more than 1 hour at a time on a stroller, pram, or high chair or strapped in somebody’s back. This odd posture leads to minimizing the movements of the infants and cutting off their opportunities to mobilize.

When sedentary situations, screen time is not recommended for infants. Storytelling and related reading activities with a caregiver or parents are highly recommended.  Researchers found that a favorable response is associated with storytelling and the cognitive development of the kids.

Sedentary time for toddlers ( 1-3 years )

Toddlers should not be restrained for more than one hour at a time. It means they should not be kept in prams, strollers, or high chairs. They are not strapped on a parent’s back for more than one hour. For one-year-olds sedentary screen time such as watching tv, playing games, etc. is not recommended.

When sedentary they can read, they can listen to a story, or such activities can be applied for more benefits in cognitive development.

edantary time for preschoolers( 3-6 years )

These totally mobile children should not be restrained for more than 1 hour at a time. Prams and strollers are not very much suitable for them to rest or spend extended periods of time.

The sedentary screen time should not be more than one hour. Engaging in reading and storytelling and manual activities are best for these kids.

Sleep time for your child

For infants

Infants should have 14-17 hours of sleep time according to WHO recommendations. These sleep are included with naps they are taking during the daytime.

A shorter sleep duration causes a higher rate of fat deposition in the infant’s body. Their emotional regulation becomes very poor with the retardation of their growth. There were no clear associations between sleep duration and cognitive and motor development or physical activity.

Sleep time for toddlers ( 1-3 years )

Toddlers should have a quality sleep of 11-14 hours. This includes daytime naps. Shorter sleep duration is associated with more TV viewing and time spent playing computer games and with an increased risk of injury mostly with toddlers. These reasons may cause them to limit their activity levels.

So parents should facilitate a good sleep time without interruptions.

Sleep time for preschoolers (3-6 years)

WHO recommends these kids should have 10–13 hours of good quality sleep, which may include a nap, with regular sleep and wake-up times. 


The early childhood period is a time of rapid physical and cognitive development of kids. Family lifestyle routines and habits bring added benefits to the child’s development.

Lack of physical activity creates a leading risk factor for global mortality. So laying the foundation since early childhood takes vital importance.

The sedentary screen time and the time spent restrained  ( when children are not able to move ) should be highly observed and assessed according to the child’s age limit.

The benefits of less screen-based sedentary behavior (TV viewing, watching videos, playing computer games) include reduced fat deposition of the body, improved motor and cognitive development, and psychosocial health.

Shorter sleep time was associated with higher fat deposition, poor emotional health, and impaired growth. There were no clear associations between sleep duration and cognitive and motor development or physical activity

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