Kids & Family

WHO Doctors Recommend No Screen Time for Infants

Guidelines say children under 5 need more play time, less sitting.

Children under 5 years old should have less screen time, and infants under the age of 1 shouldn't spend any time in front of electronic screens, according to new guidelines from the World Health Organization.

WHO says children need to sit less and play more. Infants under 1 should be physically active several times throughout the day, particularly with floor-based play. For children who aren't yet mobile, 30 minutes of "tummy time" spread throughout the day is recommended. And screen time is discouraged.

For toddlers and children ages 2 to 4, no more than one hour of screen time per day is recommended, and parents are encouraged to make sure their children get at least three hours of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily (more is better). Additionally, children this age should be getting 11 to 14 hours of high quality sleep daily, including naps.

These new guidelines were developed by a WHO panel of experts, who assessed the health effects of inadequate sleep, lack of physical activity, and time spent sitting watching screens.

To read more about the guidelines from doctors, you can click here .

Doctors say children ages 2 to 4 need at least three hours of active play each day. Photo courtesy Bambi Corro.

"Improving physical activity, reducing sedentary time and ensuring quality sleep in young children will improve their physical, mental health and wellbeing, and help prevent childhood obesity and associated diseases later in life," says Dr. Fiona Bull, a program manager at WHO.

Additionally, WHO says children who do not establish healthy habits in their early years have a greater risk of health problems later in life. Currently, more than 23 percent of adults and 80 percent of adolescents do not get enough physical activity daily.

But developing these healthy habits doesn't have to be a struggle for parents and caregivers. Doctors say it is just a matter of making sure kids are getting away from screens and out of a sedentary pattern.

"What we really need to do is bring back play for children," says Dr. Juana Willumsen, WHO focal point for childhood obesity and physical activity.

Feature image courtesy Kelly Sikkema.

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