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Hastings and Prince Edward Public Health


Kids need the right balance throughout their day to help them to learn, play, and grow. This includes getting enough sleep, having healthy food and drinks, being physically active, and limiting time in front of screens. 10-5-2-1-0 are daily recommendations for children and youth aged 5-17

10 or more hours of sleep

Children aged 5-13 require 9-11 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night and children aged 13-17 require 8-10 hours of sleep per night with consistent bed and wake-up times.

Why sleep is important

Sleep is an essential component of healthy childhood development. In recent decades, children’s sleep duration has decreased by about 30-60 minutes. Short sleep duration is associated with:

  • Poorer emotional regulation and academic achievement.
  • Lower quality of life/well-being.

What families can do

  • Try to keep your child’s bedtime the same every night (even on weekends!).
  • Turn off all screens at least one hour before bedtime and remove screens from children’s bedrooms. The bright lights and stimulation from screens can make it harder for children to fall asleep.
  • Be active for at least 60 minutes every day.
  • Avoid foods and drinks with caffeine (pop, chocolate, coffee, tea).
  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine.
5 or more servings of vegetables and fruit

Vegetables and fruit have important nutrients that help kids to learn, play, and grow. Canada’s Food Guide recommends that children aged 2-13 have around 5 servings of vegetables and fruit each day. Youth (age 14-17) need even more – up to 8 servings per day.

What’s a serving?

  • Each of these counts as one food guide serving of vegetables and fruit:
    • Fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables or berries –1/2 cup (the size of a hockey puck).
    • Uncooked leafy vegetables (like lettuce) – 1 cup (the size of a baseball).
    • Fresh fruit (like an apple or orange) – 1 medium fruit.

What families can do

  • Offer vegetables and fruit at every meal or snack.
  • Be a role model – when kids see you enjoying vegetables and fruit, they are more likely to eat them.
  • Eat the rainbow! Offer a variety of vegetables and fruit in as many colours as possible.
  • Try canned or frozen veggies and fruit with no added salt, sugar, or fat. These are budget-friendly and can be as nutritious as fresh.
  • Make it easy to choose veggies and fruit by having grab and go choices where kids can see them. Good options include veggies and dip, fresh fruit, or unsweetened fruit.
  • Encourage kids to help choose and prepare vegetables and fruit. They’re more likely to eat something that they helped to make.
  • Offer vegetables and fruit without pressure, even if a child has refused them before. It can take 10 tries or more before a child learns to like a new food!
  • Choose whole vegetables and fruit instead of juice, which is high in sugar.
  • Consider signing up for a Good Food Box, which includes a variety of fresh veggies and fruit at a lower cost than grocery stores.
  • If you have questions about healthy eating, you can speak to a Registered Dietitian by calling Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000. This free service is available Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
2 hours or less of screen time

Screen time is the time spent using a screen-based device, such as a smartphone, tablet, computer or television. Health experts in Canada recommend limiting children’s time spent on screens. For children aged 5-17, no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time per day is recommended.

Why screen time matters

Screen time affects many aspects of children’s health, including:

  • Early development: Higher screen time is linked to poor brain development, language development and attention skills in the early years.
  • Physical health: Higher screen time is linked to lower levels of physical fitness, unhealthy weights and higher risks of cardio-metabolic disease (eg. blood pressure, cholesterol).
  • Psychosocial health: Higher screen time is linked to behavioural issues, lower self-esteem and lower psychological well-being.

What families can do

  • Put screens away at least one hour before bedtime.
  • Remove screens from children’s bedrooms.
  • Eat meals away from screens and as a family.
  • Keep non-screen activities ready to occupy your children during times when you are busy.
  • Declare family screen-free days or even a screen-free part of your day.
  • Rearrange your home to reduce access to screens, especially in spaces where your family eats meals and snacks or where your children sleep.
  • Develop a family screen time plan to set family screen time limits.
  • Choose media that is appropriate to your child’s age and developmental stage.
1 or more hours of physical activity

Children aged 5-17 should spend one hour or more every day participating in heart-pumping activities that get kids breathing harder and starting to sweat. Several hours every day should be spent in light physical activity; activities like mild stretching, playing with pets or going for a walk.

Why physical activity is important

Being active every day is essential for raising healthy children. Active kids are happier, they sleep better and they do better in school. Unfortunately, only 35% of children aged 5-17 are active for at least one hour per day.

What families can do

  • Go for walks around the neighbourhood to discover new places to play.
  • Walk or ride bikes to school, to the store or the park.
  • Provide plenty of unstructured play time.
  • Parents should be active role models. Show them you like to move too!
  • Practice movement skills like running, jumping and throwing.
  • Spend time outside every day. When kids are outside, they move more and sit less.
0 sugar sweetened drinks on most days

Many popular drinks have a lot of added sugar. Too much sugar is not good for kids’ health – it can increase their risk of disease and cause cavities. These drinks are also often low in nutrition. When kids drink sugar-sweetened beverages, they have less room for the food and drinks that help them to learn, grow, and stay healthy.

STOP, SLOW, GO Drinks:

  • STOP drinks (limit as much as possible): These include sugar-sweetened beverages like pop, iced tea, fruit drinks, sports and energy drinks, and specialty coffee drinks. Even though diet pop does not have added sugar, the acids in it can be harmful to a child’s teeth.
  • SLOW drinks (choose less often): Chocolate milk and other sweetened milk or plant-based drinks have some nutrition benefits, but are high in added sugar. 100% juice does not have any added sugar but is high in natural sugar, which our bodies digest the same way.
  • GO drinks (choose every day): Water is free, natural, and has zero sugar. Kids should be drinking water regularly throughout the day. White milk and unsweetened fortified soy milk are other good choices – they have key nutrients kids need and are low in sugar.

What families can do

  • Serve water at every meal and snack.
  • Between meals and snacks, offer only water to drink. This will keep kids hydrated without filling up their stomachs.
  • Be a role model by making water your drink of choice. Kids are more likely to drink water if they see you drinking it.
  • Limit sugar-sweetened drinks as much as possible.
  • Offer lower sugar options like white milk or unsweetened fortified soy beverage (up to 2 cups per day) to help kids get enough vitamin D.
  • Encourage kids to reach for whole fruit instead of juice.
  • Make water the drink of choice during sports. Sugary sport drinks are not needed for most activities.

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Appointments for individuals 5+ can be booked through the provincial vaccine booking site, or by calling 1-833-943-3900 from 8 am to 8 pm, 7 days a week.  

Due to limited supply, HPEPH will initially be prioritizing available bivalent vaccine for residents and workers at identified highest-risk facilities.  Some HPEPH vaccination clinics MAY offer the bivalent vaccine, as availability allows. Vaccine clinics in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties will continue to offer monovalent vaccines (the same mRNA vaccines given as the primary series) for all eligible individuals until a steady supply of the bivalent vaccine is available.

Visit the HPEPH vaccine booking web page for details.


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The Ministry of Health has launched a new toll-free line as an additional resource to help answer questions from the public regarding evolving COVID-19 testing and isolation guidance. The line can be reached at 1-888-777-0730, and is available from 8 am to 6 pm, 7 days a week.