A new app to help parents raise healthier toddlers

Let’s Grow aims to improve child levels of physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep using a newly-developed interactive mobile web app.

Led by Professor Kylie Hesketh and funded through an NHMRC Project Grant, the program provides parenting advice and strategies via app and text messages to parents of 2-year olds.

The program uses short videos, animations and infographics to present information in easy ‘bite-sized’ chunks to help parents build their skills through simple, practical activities such as new play ideas.

It also includes a toolkit with resources on screen time, play and sleep; and a social forum where parents can share ideas anonymously and connect with other parents.

Almost 1400 families across Australia have been recruited for a randomised controlled trial of the Let’s Grow program. The research team will now test the program for its effectiveness and ability to be rolled out on a larger scale.

Professor Hesketh said Let’s Grow was designed to address evidence showing that all three movement behaviours – physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep – are at less than ideal levels from early childhood.

“Let’s Grow aims to equip parents with the skills to support development of healthy movement habits in their children from early life, putting children on a trajectory to improved behaviours and health throughout life,” she said.

“Our immediate goal is to see improvements in the proportion of time children devote to physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep across the day. We’re also aiming for greater confidence in parents to support physical activity and sleep, and to limit sedentary behaviour in their young children.”

Next steps:

Professor Hesketh said families chosen randomly to receive the intervention will participate in the program for 12 months, with a follow up one year after they’ve completed the program.

“If we are successful, ultimately we’d love to see Let’s Grow move from research to a program which can be accessed by all young Australian families,” Professor Hesketh said.

More information:

Protocol for the Let’s Grow randomised controlled trial: examining efficacy, cost-effectiveness and scalability of a m-Health intervention for movement behaviours in toddlers | BMJ Open