This module looks at how sedentary behaviour impacts children’s health and development.
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Being sedentary is when someone is sitting or lying down doing something that uses very little energy.
Children are considered to be sedentary when they are:
watching television or on a computer/device,
Sitting doing nothing
In a highchair, in a car or pushchair
Playing while being seated
It is important to encourage physical activity in early years and equally as important to ensure that the amount of time young children spend being sedentary is minimised.
Children are spending more time watching television and videos, playing computer games and spending time on the internet and less time being active. Babies are also spending more time being restrained (in buggies and car seats, etc.).
It is important that children and babies have opportunities to rest, but these occasions should be kept short and be split up with more active opportunities.
We now know that we need to move more and eat less to maintain a healthy lifestyle and healthy weight, however sedentary behaviour has been considered as the “new smoking” as it has a similar impact on our health as smoking has had.
Research has also shown that the number of hours spent in front of the television impacts young children’s school readiness, particularly with regards mathematics and executive functioning. It is recommended that children between the ages of 2 years and 5 years do not watch television for more than one hour per day. Children under 2 years do not need to watch television.
(Researchers from Concordia’s PERFORM Centre and New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development)
Container Baby Syndrome
Container Baby Syndrome is when babies spending too much time in “containers” such as car seats, push-chairs, etc. that are small spaces that restrict movement.
It is not natural for babies to be placed in these containers and they need to be moving most of their waking time in order to develop and grow. Container Baby Syndrome not only impacts children’s physical development but can also impact their cognitive and sensory function as well as have an impact on their behaviour.
It is therefore important for babies to only be in the containers for as short a time as possible, adults should carry babies whenever they can, they should spend time on their tummies and should be allowed to move freely.