The aim of this study was to report patterns of sitting, standing and physical activity (PA) and compliance with Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommendations for sedentary behavior (SB) and PA among children aged 1 to 5 years at childcare, and examine sociodemographic variations. Sitting, standing and PA time was assessed using an activPAL inclinometer over a period of 1 to 5 days in 301 children (49% boys; mean age = 3.7 ± 1.0 years) across 11 childcare services in Illawarra, NSW, Australia. Breaks and bouts of sitting and standing were calculated and categorized. Height and weight were assessed and parents completed a demographic survey. Differences by sex, age category (< 3 vs ≥ 3 years), weight status and SES were examined. Children spent 48.4% of their time at childcare sitting, 32.5% standing, and 19.1% in PA. Boys spent significantly more time in PA compared to girls (20.8% vs 17.7%; P = 0.003). Toddlers (< 3 years) spent significantly more time in PA compared to preschoolers (≥ 3 years) (22.2% vs 18.3%; P < 0.001). Children who were underweight spent significantly more time sitting compared with their overweight peers (52.4% vs 46.8%; P = 0.003). 56% and 16% of children met the IOM SB and PA recommendations, respectively. Girls (odds ratio [OR]; 95%CI = 0.26; 0.13 to 0.55) and preschoolers (0.16; 0.07 to 0.38) were less likely to meet the IOM PA recommendation compared to boys and toddlers. Young children spent ~ 50% of their time at childcare sitting. Girls and preschoolers sit more and are less likely to meet PA recommendations, making them important groups to target in future interventions.