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PLAYING: Physical Activities for Infants – What you need to know

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Physical Activities for Infants – What you need to know

Did you know? Spending time playing with your baby at this age can lead to them being more active when they are a toddler.

3 mins to read Feb 23, 2021

Why your baby needs to be active

Your baby needs to be more active than you might think. Studies show that 9 month old babies who actively play with their parents have increased physical activity when they’re close to two years of age. It’s certainly never too early to get into the habit of incorporating active playtime into their everyday routine to help them develop habits that will last a lifetime.  Active play can start from birth with floor-based activities including tummy-time, reaching, pushing, pulling and crawling. Babies should get at least 30 minutes of tummy time throughout the day.

Surprisingly, many parents think their children are naturally active and don’t need any extra encouragement. However, research reveals the opposite to be true, and many toddlers aren’t active for the recommended amount of time for their age. The Canadian Pediatric Society recommends that toddlers have 180 minutes of physical activity through the day as both planned and organized and unstructured physical activity or free play. Now that your baby is 10 to 12 months old, you can be aiming towards these levels of active time as they approach toddlerhood.Experts advise that babies engage in physical activities that explore movement and their environment for several short periods of time each day. Babies should, of course, always be in a safe environment and supervised when playing.

Let these five principles guide how your baby plays, to start him on the path toward an active and healthy life.

Get moving. Encourage your baby to be physically active several times a day in a variety of ways. You don’t need lots of equipment—simply playing together on the floor will get them moving.

Spend less time sitting still. Try not to let your baby sit in the same position, for example in a stroller, car seat, or highchair, for more than one hour at a time.

Avoid screen time. Screen time is not recommended for babies or children under 2 years old. Instead, enjoy limited quiet time by reading together or telling them a story.

Stay hydrated. As your baby may get thirsty during a play session, take a break and offer him a cup of water, and offer another one at the end of the activity. Be sure to let him see you enjoying a refreshing glass of water, too.

Sleep well. For this age group, 12 to 16 hours of good quality sleep everyday (including naps) is recommended.


  • Canadian Paediatric Society. Caring for Kids. Physical activity for children and youth Accessed December 2020.

  • Tremblay MS, Chaput J, Adamo KB, et al. Canadian 24-hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years (0-4 years): An integration of physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and sleep. BMC Public Health 2017; 17(Suppl 5):874 doi 10.1186/s12889-017-4859-6.


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