How To Use This Booklet
For young children, physical activity is natural. Kids in Action is
based on the premise that children love to move. Little ones are delighted to
have your company and your undivided attention. Playing actively with them will
give pleasure to both of you. You do not need to be an expert on movement to
promote a child's daily physical activity, and no special equipment is
necessary to make meaningful activity part of children's lives.
Being active from an early age will help children become physically fit later
in life. Health-related fitness involves cardiovascular endurance, muscular
strength and endurance, flexibility, and body composition. This booklet
incorporates these elements into activities for children in three age groups:
infants (birth to 18 months), toddlers (18 to 36 months), and preschoolers (3
to 5 years).
Small children need several hours of unstructured movement every day. They
should never be inactive for more than 60 minutes. Toddlers need at least 30
minutes of structured activities, such as those presented in this booklet, and
preschoolers need at least 60 minutes of structured activities. You can break
all activity periods into smaller units of ten or fifteen minutes.
To help your child reach individual activity goals, choose several of the
activities in Kids in Action each day. Play at each one for 10 or 15
minutes. Ideally, you would have at least two or three activity sessions a day.
When playing with your child, choose only activities for which he is
developmentally ready. For example, don't play Creepy/Crawly until your baby is
able to crawl and creep successfully. For activities that call for your infant
to be seated before she can sit up unassisted, prop her up against a stable
object such as the front of a sofa, or surround her with firm pillows. Most
babies can sit assisted by 4 months of age and unassisted by age 9
As you perform activities in Kids in Action with your child, remember
that the most important thing you can do to promote an active lifestyle is to
be a role model. So have fun, and let the suggestions here inspire your own
creative movement ideas.
Remember, in addition to structured movements such as those shown here, young
children should also participate in at least 60 minutes a day of unstructured
physical activity. The more the better! So be sure they have the time, space,
and opportunity to crawl, walk, run, jump, climb and play actively!
A Few Basic Tips on Healthy Eating
activity is only one part of the equation for optimal health and well-being for
both you and your children. It must be coupled with healthful eating. This
important food-fitness connection is what it's all about. By adopting an active
lifestyle and choosing to eat healthful foods, you encourage children to follow
your good example.
The first step toward helping your child eat a healthier diet is making a
variety of nutritious foods readily available for snacks and at mealtime,
including plenty of fruits and vegetables. Follow the Dietary Guidelines for
Americans recommended by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and
Human Services. Then your child can choose what he or she likes best.
Make family meals a priority beginning with the first meal of the day. Research
shows that children who eat breakfast are better nourished than
breakfast-skippers and are more likely to meet their daily need for certain
essential vitamins and minerals. Eating breakfast improves alertness and helps
children feel like getting up and moving. To help make breakfast a daily habit,
keep an assortment of healthy foods available. Good choices include whole grain
cereals, non-fat or low-fat milk, yogurt, and fruit.