Healthy Early Years
A parent’s guide from birth to five
Healthy weight and exercise

Healthy weight and exercise

Promoting good health and a healthy weight

With healthy habits from birth, you can give your baby a good start for a healthy and happy future. Breast milk is ideal for your baby’s growing needs. Talk to your health visitor if you have any questions about how and when is best to wean your baby.

It is easier to develop healthy eating habits in children at an early stage in their lives. Babies like the foods they get used to. If you give them lots of different, healthy foods to try when they are babies and toddlers, they are more likely to eat a variety of healthy foods as they grow up. Avoid salt, sugar, honey, nuts, saturated fats, low-fat foods, raw shellfish or eggs for babies.

Being physically active takes brain and muscle power so it plays an important part in your baby's development. As they grow, you can help them by playing with them and helping them make new movements and explore their surroundings. Physical exercise helps with all aspects of physical and mental wellbeing and it helps avoid becoming overweight or obese.

Physical activity guidelines

Being physically active every day is important for healthy growth and development.

Babies - Before your baby begins to crawl, encourage them to be physically active by reaching and grasping, pulling and pushing, moving their head, body and limbs during supervised floor play, including tummy time.

Toddlers - Should be physically active every day for at least 180 minutes (three hours), spread throughout the day, indoors or outside. This can include a mixture of light activity such as standing up, moving around, rolling and playing, as well as more energetic activity like skipping, running and jumping.

All children aged under five - Children under five should not be inactive for long periods, except when they're asleep. Watching TV, travelling or being strapped into a buggy for long periods are not good for a child's health and development.

A healthy weight

Many parents are unaware of the dangers of their child being overweight or obese but by following the top tips below you can make a difference to your child’s health.

  1. Meal time - It’s important for kids to have regular, proper meals as growing bodies respond better to routine.

  2. 5 a day - Include 5 portions of fruit and/or vegetables a day.

  3. Sugar swaps - Avoid sugary drinks particularly between meals - water or milk are the best option.

  4. Snack check - Many snacks are full of the things that are bad for us - sugar, salt, fat and calories. So try fruit (avoid dried fruit which can damage teeth when given as a snack), cut vegetables or breadsticks as an alternative.

  5. Me size meals - It’s important to make sure kids get just the right amount for their age.

  6. Up and about - Children are naturally active. Limit the amount of time they spend watching TV or playing computer games.


Visit your local leisure centre to find out about activities including swimming sessions for babies and toddlers.

Passport to Leisure is a discount card scheme, run by Calderdale Council, which enables qualifying groups of people to enjoy fantastic discounts on sport, recreation, leisure and cultural facilities provided by the Council and other participating organisations.

Playing outside is a big part of helping children learn new skills, explore and develop new experiences to learn and grow from. Local parks are an excellent place for children to run around and be active. Many have play areas with swings and slides. Find a park near you.


How active should my child be?
(6 to 30 months)


My child is a fussy eater and I worry that they are not getting enough food.


If your child is active, gaining weight and it's obvious they're not ill, then they’re getting enough to eat.


As long as your child eats some food from the four main food groups (milk and dairy products, starchy foods, fruit and vegetables, protein), you don't need to worry.

Source: NHS Choices Fussy Eaters/Department of Health