Nutrition and Wellness Tips for Young Children

Nutrition and Wellness Tips for Young Children
Large group of children running in the dandelion spring field

Provider Handbook for the Child and Adult Care Food Program



  • Provide Opportunities
  • Participate With Children
  • Promote Through Policies and Practices
  • Limit Screen Time
  • Active Play Tip Sheets

Provide Opportunities for Active Play Every day

Active play and movement are important for every child’s growth, health, development, and learning. Although they may seem to be active and energetic, most children do not get the amount of physical activity they need. Research shows that young children in child care still spend a lot of their time sitting or lying down. Children should not be seated or still for more than 15 minutes at a time, except during meals or naps.

Children need a healthy balance of high-energy active play like running and climbing, as well as passive play like sitting in the sandbox. Children spend many hours each day in your child care program, so providing the recommended amount of active play is important in helping children establish healthy habits.

How much time should be planned for active play every day?

Every child care program should promote children’s active play every day. Time planned for outdoor play and physical activity depends on the age group and weather conditions. Vary activities between structured play (led by the adult caregiver) and free play (not led by an adult).

► Toddlers (12 months to 3 years old) Provide 60 to 90 minutes per day for moderate to vigorous physical activity.

► Preschoolers (3 to 6 years old) Provide 90 to 120 minutes per day for moderate to vigorous physical activity.

Moderate and vigorous physical activity will make children breathe harder and make their hearts beat faster than when they are not active.

Moderate Physical Activity

  • Walking
  • Playing on outdoor play equipment, moving

about, swinging, or climbing

  • Playing hopscotch, 4-square, or kickball

Vigorous Physical Activity

  • Running, jogging, skipping, race-walking,

walking quickly up a hill

  • Running games
  • Jumping rope, doing jumping jacks, jumping games.


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