Skip to content
Skip to navigation

Active Play

Being physically active every day is important for healthy growth and development of babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers, whatever their level of ability. All forms of play are really important for young children, however active play is the most appropriate form of physical activity.  Active play describes most forms of physical activity that young children can do including:

  • Everyday tasks: climbing steps, helping tidy up, gardening or unpacking the shopping.
  • Unstructured activity: lying and rolling on the floor, dancing to music, chasing or climbing.
  • Structured activity: specific games such as Incy Wincy Spider, kicking a ball, hide and seek or games played in pre-school.
  • Active travel: walking, pedalling or using a scooter to get from place to place.

Daily unrestricted active play is important to help young children:

  • Develop their senses.
  • Develop good strength, balance and posture.
  • Learn about how their bodies work.
  • Build social and emotional bonds.

Physically active play also helps them:

  • Develop essential movement skills.
  • Develop strong bones.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight.

Doing any physical activity is better than doing none. Look for ways to add physical activity and to limit sedentary behaviour in your day and be a good role model for your children.

What about screens?

TVs, DVDs and computer games may be popular with children, but usually involve sitting for long periods of time. Regardless of how active your children may be at other times, it is still important to limit screen time.

For further information

There are lots of tips and ideas to help you include more activity in your child’s day. For more information see the Healthy Kids website.  For specific child health advice, please contact the Central Intake Service on 1800 999 880 or

Last updated: 28 June 2018