Sit Less, Move More, Sleep Well: Active play guidelines for under-fives

These Guidelines provide population health advice to support health practitioners, early childhood educators, regional sports trusts and others who provide advice to parents, caregivers and whānau or families on physical activity for children under five years of age.

Published online: 
31 May 2017
Cover of publication.


Regular active play, limited sitting and enough good-quality sleep are important for a child’s healthy growth and development.

Sit Less, Move More, Sleep Well: Active play guidelines for under-fives (the Guidelines) has been prepared as part of the Eating and Activity Guidelines series.

From birth to five years of age, children experience a significant amount of physical, cognitive and socio-emotional development. Movement, through play, encourages this development. Play is an important way for a child to grow physically, socially, emotionally and spiritually, all of which are vital for their future health and wellbeing.

The Guidelines:

  • include new sleep recommendations, which are integrated with the updated physical activity and sedentary behaviour recommendations for all under-fives
  • are based on current international evidence for under-fives
  • outline the benefits of playing in the natural environment, an important cultural concept in New Zealand
  • suggest practical, low-cost activities that parents, caregivers and whānau or families can do with under-fives to assist the children’s development
  • are consistent with the Ministry’s Clinical Weight Management Guidelines for Children and Young People, Sport New Zealand’s Physical Literacy Approach and Principles of Play, and the Ministry of Education’s Te Whāriki: Early childhood education curriculum
  • are accompanied by an infographic poster, which can be downloaded and printed from the Ministry’s website
  • will be accompanied by easy to understand health education resources for the general public.

Publishing information

  • Date of publication:
    31 May 2017
  • ISBN:
    Print: 978-1-98-850249-6, Online: 978-1-98-850250-2
  • HP number:
  • Citation:
    Ministry of Health. 2017. Sit Less, Move More, Sleep Well: Active play guidelines for under-fives. Wellington: Ministry of Health.
  • Ordering information:
    Only soft copy available to download
  • Copyright status:

    Owned by the Ministry of Health and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence.

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