Active Play

Active play gets your child moving and it’s fun. Not sure how much or what kind of physical activities are good for your baby or toddler? Check out the Canadian 24 hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years.   

Birth to 1 year

Babies need bouts of physical activity throughout the day. Playing with your baby on the floor is a great way to do this. You are your baby's best playmate. Bond with your baby through active play! 

Active babies:   

  • Play on their tummies for tummy time 
  • Reach for or grasp toys
  • Play and roll on the floor
  • Crawl around the home

Tips to get your infant moving:

  • Create safe play spaces
  • Play music and move to it
  • Put toys where they can reach them
  • Encourage them
Physical literacy for infants

Babies develop physical literacy through early movement. Grasping, rolling over, crawling and walking are the beginnings of physical literacy. Encourage your baby to move in age appropriate ways from birth. 

Need ideas to help your infant develop motor skills? Visit Active for Life 

Toddlers and Preschoolers (1-3 years)

Your child needs at least 180 minutes of physical activity each day. Play with your child. You are their role model. Make physical activity a part of everyday. 

Active toddlers & preschoolers: 

  • Move around their home
  • Play outside and explore
  • Crawl, walk, run, and dance
  • Hop and jump
  • Play with balls, bubbles, or ride-on toys
  • Like activities that get them moving

Tips to get your child moving:

  • Create safe play spaces
  • Play music and move to it
  • Dress for the weather and go outside
  • Play with other children
  • Get where you're going by walking

Follow this link from Active for Life to learn more about how active play supports your child brain development, physical development, language development and mental health. 

Physical literacy for toddlers and preschoolers

Toddlers and preschoolers continue to develop their physical literacy through movement. Practicing crawling, walking and running supports physical literacy development. Encourage your child to practice these skills often.   

Need ideas to help your child practice their motor skills? Visit Active for Life

Sedentary Activities and Screen Time (birth to 3 years old)

Sedentary activities involve very little movement. Screen time is a common sedentary activity. Using tablets, playing on phones, and watching TV are examples of screen time. Monitor your child’s screen time. Less is best. 

How much screen time should I let my child have? 

  • Children 2 years old and under should not have screen time.
  • Children between 2 and 4 years old should have less than 1 hour of screen time each day. 

When your little one needs some down time, activities like reading with a parent and craft activities are good choices. 

 Tips to reduce sedentary behaviour:

  • Limit the use of playpens, infant seats and strollers
  • Set rules about screen time
  • Keep electronic devices out of bedrooms
  • Encourage outdoor play
  • Play with your child

For more information about managing your child’s screen time, visit the Caring for Kids website. 

Do you have more questions about parenting?

  • Connect with a registered nurse from Health811 for free, secure, and confidential health advice. Service is available 24/7 in English and French, with translation support also offered in other languages. Call 8-1-1 or visit
  • Connect with a Community Navigator from 2-1-1 for information about community programs and resources across Eastern Ontario. Helpline service is available 24/7 and in many different languages. Call 2-1-1 or visit
  • Connect with other parents on the Parenting in Ottawa Facebook page.
  • There are a variety of services to make it easier for your child to grow up healthy in Ottawa.
  • You can update your child's immunization record using either the CANImmunize App or the Immunization Connect Ontario (ICON) Tool
  • If you have received a message from Ottawa Public Health such as a letter or a call regarding immunization, an infectious disease, or infection control lapse, please call 613-580-6744 and listen to the menu options carefully.

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