Early childhood is a period of rapid physical and cognitive development during which habits are formed and family lifestyle routines are adaptable, said the World Health Organization guidelines, drawn from evidence in hundreds of studies, many from Australia, Canada, South Africa and the United States.
Notable in the guidelines, is the amount of screen time toddlers should get, which the United Nations agency said should not be more than one hour for those under 5 and none at all for those under 1. The WHO didn't outline negative side effects associated with screen time, but noted that more physical activity (and thereby less screen time) is necessary for the overall well-being of kids.
Young children should not spend more than an hour a day watching television and videos or playing computer games and infants less than one year old should not be exposed to electronic screens at all, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday.
Willumsen said the screen time guidelines do not pertain to "an interactive tablet based game or a TV programme where children are encouraged to move, to copy movements to dance to interact with the media".
"Our research has shown that now there is not strong enough evidence to support the setting of screen time limits, and that screen use should be considered alongside a range of activities to assess its impact", he said.
Even at 1-2 years, though, screen time remains anathema.
Children between one and four should spend at least three hours in a variety of physical activities spread across the day, with no more than an hour of screen time.
Babies under one should also not be restrained in a pram, highchair or strapped to someone's back for more than an hour at a time, and should sleep between 12 and 17 hours per day, it said.
"Improving the physical activity, sedentary and sleep time behaviors of young children will contribute to their physical health, reduce the risk of developing obesity in childhood and the associated non-communicable diseases in later life and improve mental health and well-being", the WHO said.
Have 11-14 hours of good quality sleep, including naps, with regular sleep and wake-up times.
"Estimates from 2012 indicate that not meeting current physical activity recommendations are responsible for more than 5 million deaths globally each year". Kids this age should participate in about three hours worth of physical activity per day.