A new app to help parents raise healthier toddlers

IPAN researchers are developing and testing a new app for families to increase physical activity, decrease sedentary behaviour and optimise sleep in their 2-year-old children.

Around 1000 families across Australia are involved in the project, funded through an NHMRC Project Grant.

The Let’s Grow mHealth intervention will be tested for efficacy, maintenance, cost-effectiveness and translation potential in a randomised controlled trial.

Leading researcher Professor Kylie Hesketh said the project is 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 and her team have now finalised the program’s content and worked with developers to create and test the app.

“This has paved the way for recruitment of families to commence the intervention in 2020. Families randomised to receive the intervention will participate in the program for 12 months, with a follow up one year after they’ve completed the program,” she said.

Key aspects of the program include the focus on all three behaviours together, flexible and tailored parent-led interaction, and consultation with stakeholders in program development to ensure future scalability.

“If the program is successful our ultimate goal is to see translation of the program from research to the practice setting, and scale up of Let’s Grow to benefit all Australian families,” Professor Hesketh said.