Dear Parents: Did You Know There Are Guidelines?

Dear Parents,

I’m sure you’ve already read this in the morning newspaper, but let me catch you up.

A series of trusted and reliable organizations, including the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research (HALO) at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, and the University of Alberta released guidelines today giving official recommendations of how much activity children should get, how much screen time they should have, and how much sleep they should get, in order to promote healthy growth and development.

I’ll summarize for you:

  • Children under 1 should be physically active several times a day, including 30 minutes of tummy time spread throughout the day.
  • Children under 1 should not be restrained for more than an hour.
  • And, children under 1 should sleep lots–between 12-17 hours, including naps.
  • Kids aged 1-4 should move for 180 minutes a day, including high-energy, heart-pumping, play.
  • Toddlers and preschoolers should be getting between 10-14 hours of good quality sleep with consistent bedtimes and wake-up times.
  • 2-4 year olds should not have more than 1 hour of screen time per day.
  • Kids under 2? No screen time.*

*A more detailed breakdown can be found in the study report [Google Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years].

Currently, only 13% of preschoolers meet these guidelines. From my own experience, I would wholeheartedly agree that most children are not successful in meeting these guidelines.

More than that, I think these guidelines are crucial. As fully developed adults, we know we should limit screen time, get exercise, and have a good night’s sleep to maintain our best mental and physical health. So, of course children need this too! And, I would argue that is is MORE important for them, as they are still learning and developing.

Will your family meet these guidelines every single day? Likely not. But if you try, and meet them as often as you can, you will be doing your best to give your child good health and an optimal environment for development.





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