physical activity for
Babies (under 1)
Babies should be encouraged to be active throughout the day, every day, in a variety of ways, including crawling. If they’re not yet crawling, encourage them to be physically active by reaching and grasping, pulling and pushing, moving their head, body and limbs during daily routines, and during supervised floor play.
Try to include at least 30 minutes of tummy time spread throughout the day when they’re awake. Once babies can move around, encourage them to be as active as possible in a safe and supervised play environment.
- Lay your baby down on their back so they can kick their legs.
- Pulling, pushing, grasping and playing with other people are great ways to practise different kinds of movements.
- Once your baby has started crawling, let them crawl around the floor, but make sure it’s safe first – see our crawling safety checklist.
- Playing outdoors helps your baby learn about their surroundings.
- You can take your baby swimming from a very young age – there’s no need to wait until they’ve been vaccinated.
Tummy time is time your baby spends on their tummy when they are awake.
Tummy time is important for your baby’s development as it helps to build the muscles your baby needs for sitting and crawling. You can start doing tummy time from birth by lying your baby on your chest – but only do this when you’re wide awake and unlikely to fall asleep.
Little and often is best to begin with. Gradually increase the amount of time you do this day by day. Then, when your baby is ready, try doing tummy time on the floor. If your baby has difficulty lifting their head, you can roll up a towel and put it under their armpits. Put some toys nearby for them to reach out to.
Only do tummy time when your baby is awake and alert, and you’re there to keep an eye on them.
It’s important that your baby does not spend too much time in:
- baby walkers or bouncers – these encourage babies to stand on their tiptoes and can delay walking if your baby uses them a lot
- baby carriers and seats – long periods in reclining carriers or seats, or seats that prop your baby in a sitting position, can delay your baby’s ability to sit up on their own
If you do use a baby walker, bouncer or seat, it’s best to use them for no more than 20 minutes at a time.