As young children grow and develop, they need more time in active play, less time sitting and enough sleep each day to be healthy. Time away from screens is time they can be active and make friends.

Small changes to how much sleep and screen time your kids have can improve their overall health.

Sleep is important

Getting enough sleep is essential for your child’s health and wellbeing.

By establishing healthy sleep habits from an early age you can promote growth, good concentration, and reduce the risk of illness for your child.

How much sleep do kids need?

  • Children 5–13 years need an uninterrupted 9–11 hours a night.
  • Children 14–17 years need 8–10 hours a night.

For younger children:

  • Infants need 14–17 hours of good quality sleep for those aged 0–3 months, and 12–16 hours for those aged 4–11 months. This includes naps throughout the day.
  • Toddlers (1–2 years old) need 11–14 hours of good quality sleep, including naps during the day. It is important to start establishing consistent habits for when you put them to sleep and wake them up each day.
  • Pre-schoolers (3–5 years) need 10–13 hours of good quality sleep. This can include a nap, with consistent sleep and wake-up times.

Screen time for kids

Screen time can have a bigger impact on a child’s health and social skills than you might expect.

While computers and TV can be valuable for education and learning, they can’t replace the health benefits and social skills learned while being active. In fact, sitting or lying down for long periods of time is associated with poorer health outcomes, including an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

Every hour your kids spend away from a screen is an hour they can be active, playing with friends and having quality time with family.

How much screen time is too much?

Kids aged 5–17 years should spend no more than 2 hours each day watching TV or on a computer.

It is recommended that children less than 1 year have no screen time at all and children 1–4 years have no more than 1 hour of screen time a day; less is better.

3 tips for reducing screen time

  • Start small. If the task seems too big, make a start by replacing just one half hour of screen time this week. Use this time to have a family dinner together, take your kids to the park or go for a walk on the weekend. Take a look at our tips for healthy activities you can do with your family.

  • Establish good habits early. The earlier get your kids into the habit of spending their time playing instead of watching a screen, the easier it will be for them to stick to these habits.
  • Act as a role model. Our kids learn a lot from watching us. By giving up some of your own screen time and spending it getting the family active you can help your kids stay healthy.

The above recommendations for sleep and screen time are drawn from the Australian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Young People (5–17 years) and the World Health Organisation guidelines on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep for children under 5 years of age.