Free online advent calendar to keep your toddler active this Christmas

Infant & Toddler Forum launches “make mine active” Activity Advent Calendar for a healthy, happy toddler Christmas.

Christmas is a hugely exciting time for toddlers, in anticipation of the big day. To help keep them occupied and active during the festive season, The Infant & Toddler Forum (ITF) has launched a free online advent calendar which gives parents a daily activity to do with their toddler throughout December. The ITF has also launched a factsheet – Physical Activity and Play for Toddlers – which gives practical advice for parents and carers about exercise and active play.

Christmas is a time for families to be together, to relax, and celebrate the season. But festive parties and extra food can mean that families lose sight of everyday routines. Nap times are essential but may be late or cut short, and toddlers may be travelling at unfamiliar times, which means meals and snacks may be rushed and regular activity may get forgotten. This can be detrimental to a toddler’s mood.

Help is at hand – the interactive online advent calendar allows parents and toddlers to open a different door in the calendar every day by visiting the ITF website. Behind each door is an activity to do together such as having a Christmas dance-a-thon or making a welcome sign for Santa Claus.

The ITF Activity Factsheet provides easy-to-follow tips to help families and carers of children under-5 to encourage physical activity and play as part of everyday life.

The UK is currently facing a health time bomb, with only 32% of boys and 24% of girls in England between the ages of two and 15 getting the recommended amount of exercise.[i] Given that over 20% of children entering school (age 4+ years) are already overweight or obese,[ii] there is growing concern that a sedentary lifestyle with too much time in front of screens, or being strapped in car seats and push chairs, will take its toll on children’s future health and wellbeing.

This sort of lifestyle can not only lead to a higher likelihood of later health problems such as being overweight or obese, it can also impact on children’s cognitive development.

Judy More, Paediatric Dietitian, and member of the Infant & Toddler Forum, said: “It’s so important we keep toddlers active for good health and wellbeing both now and in the future. It doesn’t have to be complicated – just taking your toddler out walking somewhere everyday even if it is raining – they like jumping in puddles.20 minutes or so at a playground on the way home might be even more popular. For this Christmas we’ve created an Advent Activity Calendar to inspire mums with different activity ideas for toddlers while having some family fun at the same time.”

Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said: “The Government is encouraging parents to get their young children physically active for at least 180 minutes a day in order to give them the best chance of a healthy start in life.”

This Activity Calendar and Factsheet have lots of fun and festive ideas for keeping your child active over Christmas.

So to keep the toddler tantrums at bay this Christmas and have some fun, access the Activity Advent Calendar and the Activity Factsheet at www.infantandtoddlerforum.org and keep the whole family active.

The Infant & Toddler Forum is a partner of the Department of Health’s Public Health Responsibility Deal, with a pledge to take action to improve health.

These resources and more can be downloadedfor free from www.infantandtoddlerforum.org

Notes to editors

1. The Infant & Toddler Forum brings together an independent, multi-disciplinary team of experts and practitioners from paediatrics, neonatology, health visiting, dietetics, and child psychology, to share new ideas and to debate the latest thinking in infant and toddler nutrition. Best practice guidance on food and feeding for all young families is paramount for children’s health and wellbeing now and in the future. For more than nine years the Forum and its partners have strived to raise awareness and promote positive change in the field of toddler nutrition and feeding behaviour, with all guidance being in alignment with DH increased emphasis on early years intervention

2. The Infant & Toddler Forum is supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Danone Baby Nutrition. The views and outputs of the group, however, remain independent of Danone Baby Nutrition and its commercial interests

[i] Physical activity statistics 2012. British Heart Foundation Health Promotion Research Group Department of Public Health, University of Oxford

[ii] http://bma.org.uk/working-for-change/improving-and-protecting-health/child-health/growing-up-in-the-uk

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Further Reading

  • Atul Singhal, Professor of Paediatric Nutrition and Chair of the Infant & Toddler Forum   At the Infant & Toddler Forum (ITF), we are committed to giving every child the healthiest start in life. As an expert-led, not-for-profit organisation we have dedicated our work to early life nutrition, from pregnancy to pre-school, because we know that healthy eating habits established in childhood are more likely to last a lifetime.
  • Judy More, Paediatric Dietitian and Registered Nutritionist   As Christmas approaches it can be difficult to plan activities for toddlers! Between decorating, shopping and cooking it may be a challenge to find time to include fun active play with your little one. The Infant & Toddler Forum is here to help with our top tips for maintaining healthy, fun activities for your toddlers during the festive season!
  • Lucy Upton, Specialist Paediatric Dietitian and Nutritionist   Christmas is a joyful time of year, however as a parent it can also be busy and sometimes stressful. Between planning festive gatherings, shopping for the perfect gifts, and decorating your home, thinking about the perfectly portioned festive meal for your toddler can be an added challenge. The Infant & Toddler Forum is here to help you create an easy and delicious Christmas plate that will save you time but more importantly, that your toddler will enjoy!