If you’ve been lucky enough to welcome a little bundle of joy into the world recently, congratulations! We know how life changes (for the better) when a little one comes along, and new experiences and adventures are always just around the corner!
But it’s likely that your running has taken a back seat since your little person arrived. If you’ve been longing to get back into it, the good news is that with the right stroller, you can take your baby along for the ride!
Running with a stroller is the norm for moms and dads these days. You love running, and you love your baby, so why not combine the two into a bonding exercise experience?
If you’re nervous about moving more than a relaxed pace with your little one in a stroller, we get it! But jogging strollers are created to provide the safest possible experience, for parents and baby.
Today we’re sharing some tips and tricks for running with a stroller so you can introduce your baby to running early!
Why is Running With Your Baby/Kid So Great?
If you’re a new parent, you may be wondering why running with your kiddie is a good idea. Perhaps you’re nervous about going that fast. Maybe you’d rather stay home as much as possible when bonding.
But running together (even before he/she can actually run) is a super way to bond! Here are some of the benefits of running with your baby:
- Multitasking: exercising and spending time together
- Fresh Air: Be outside in nature – it’s good for the soul!
- Exploration: Discover places in your own neighborhood you never knew about.
- Energize: Bring back some of that athletic energy.
- Tired Toddler: A run in the stroller can be a great way to rock a crabby toddler to sleep!
First Things First…
Before heading out on a run with your little darling, make sure that you tick these boxes in order to have the safest and funnest run possible.
Get The Right Stroller
If running with your baby sounds appealing to you, don’t just stick the baby in whatever stroller you already have and head out with gusto!
Although enthusiasm is awesome, you need to make sure you’re using the right kind of stroller. Not all of them are created for running, and using the wrong one can put your baby at risk of discomfort and injury.
Strollers specifically made for running will have features like:
- A suspension system.
- Larger wheels than average.
- A locking front wheel.
- Hand brakes or foot brakes.
- A 3- or 5-point harness.
They also need to be fairly lightweight and easy to maneuver. Other useful things are being car seat compatible and being easy to fold up.
Some strollers are made specifically for off-road running, while others are created for the best running experience on the road.
Make Sure Your Baby Is the Right Age
You can’t really take your baby for a run right after you get home from the hospital. You’ll need to wait until they’re old enough to support their own body.
For your average stroller, 6 to 8 months is the appropriate age to start running with your child.
Some sources may suggest that you can start within a couple of weeks, as long as your baby has the necessary neck and head support.
But while car seat-like strollers offer better support, we recommend waiting until they have good neck control before hitting the road.
Run At the Right Time
Remember that your little one is much less in control of their body than we adults are. If you’re used to running by yourself, it may be as simple as deciding that you want to run at a certain time, or deciding on the spot to head out for a run.
It’s not as easy with a baby. Make sure they haven’t eaten very recently before you run with them. The last thing any parent wants is to cut their run short because baby lost their lunch on some bumpy terrain!
Bouncing around in the stroller could also cause stomach ache for a little guy or girl if they’ve eaten shortly before.
Plan Your Run
Once you’ve made sure your stroller is an appropriate one for running, we strongly advise planning your first run in advance.
Choose a Distance Range
You may have been training for a half-marathon before baby arrived, but it’s probably not a good idea to attempt that distance for the first time with your little one.
It’s a good idea to choose a route that you can get a variety of distances on. For example, don’t head off on a 10-mile hike with no way of turning around. Rather, choose a route where you could turn around after 2 miles, or keep going for 5 if all is going well.
It all depends on whether you’ve been running since delivering. If it’s your first time out running since being pregnant, take i slow and go easy on the distance. If you have been able to get some of your running form back, you might be up for a longer run, but the baby might need some time to get used to the motion.
Pick a Comfortable Route
In addition to being careful with distance, be thoughtful about where you run! It’s best to keep it on a smooth, level surface at the start. What you certainly can run on trails with the right stroller, save that for a later adventure.
Choose a route that’s fairly flat, has plenty of space, and if possible, avoids traffic. Neither you nor your kiddie should be breathing in fumes! Also, sidewalks can be crowded, and crossing the road can take some time (and make you nervous if you’re with your little one).
If you can find a beautiful nature-oriented walk, it’s a super choice for getting your baby used to this experience. The air will be fresher, there’s likely to be more space, and beautiful scenery is always a plus!
Add a Kid-Stop
To stop your kiddie from getting bored, we recommend adding a quick kid-friendly stop halfway through your run.
Spend a few minutes at a playground, or stop by to visit a friend. That way, your kiddie gets a bit of excitement in his or her day too instead of just sitting waiting patiently for you to finish this run thing.
Going alone is ambitious. Your first few times running with a stroller will be a learning curve, and it can help immensely to have a friend or partner with you.
If you have friends who already run with their kids, why not go on a run together? They could offer some valuable advice and tips and tricks that will make your experience easier from the start.
Time It Carefully
Before naptime is always a great time to run. That way, the soothing motion of the stroller may put the baby right to sleep.
Just make sure he or she hasn’t just eaten. Give them some time to digest their latest meal and start to get sleepy and then head off for a run.
Don’t go out unprepared! Most strollers have more than enough space for you to carry whatever you need (way better than any running shorts or jackets in terms of storage!).
Be sure to take:
- Extra diapers
- Bug repellant
- Change of clothes
- Toys/books for baby
You won’t necessarily use all of these things, but rather have it all and not need it than find yourself without.
During The Run
Keep the following things in mind while out and about:
Many strollers come with wrist straps, and we advise using them for hilly or bumpy terrain. If your stroller doesn’t have them, make your own!
Make use of the locking front wheel to prevent sudden, unexpected twists and turns of the stroller if the wheel hits a rock or dip. You could also lift the front wheel up when turning, to prevent possible wobbles.
Make sure you’ve strapped your kiddie in securely! Don’t leave the harness too loose – they’re padded specifically so you can tighten them without hurting your little one and keep them secure in their seat. Approach the straps on your jogging stroller the same way you would putting your kid into a car seat.
If you have to answer a phone call or check a message while you’re out, stop running! There’s nothing wrong with taking a minute to stop and check or talk, but you really don’t want to take your eye off the road and take a tumble, especially with your little one.
Usually, running is wild and free, with just the wind pushing against us. Now, you’ve got a monster of a stroller you need to maneuver around. It can be easy to lose your form without even realizing you’re doing so.
But, it’s essential to focus on proper running form with the stroller, to reduce chances of injury. Here are some tips!
- Place the handlebars in a position where you can still run as upright as possible, without bending or hunching over.
- Keep both hands on the handlebars in tricky terrain areas.
- Form is easier to maintain holding the handlebars with one hand and letting the other swing. Choose which hand is more comfortable, and switch whenever you need to.
- Keep your elbows bent while pushing.
- Engage your core to reduce tension in the lower back.
- Worry less about speed and more about form
If you are a data-freak and love tracking stats when you run, be aware that having your hands on the stroller might interfere with some metrics. For example, most watches use your arm movements to measure cadence, stride length, and step count. If you have your watch hand motionless on the stroller, these will not be measured. Your run still counts, of course, but if a loss of data makes you sad, then you’ll need to be very deliberate in keeping your watch hand off the stroller.
Racing With a Jogging Stroller
If you’re itching to get back to racing but either can’t leave your baby with anyone, or just want to run with them, you’ll have to ask race organizers for the rules regarding running with a stroller.
If they give you the go-ahead, you’ll need to be extra careful when running the race, for your own and your baby’s safety.
- If you can, start in the right wave so you get a good rhythm from the start.
- But be respectful of other runners – don’t start too close to the front and make faster runners have to get around you.
- For the first mile or so, try to stick to the sides.
- When you’re passing other runners or turning, give clear signals.
- Try to keep a steady pace.
- Stay focused!
Your first race with your baby may be nerve-wracking. But once you’ve survived one, you’ll find each one after that much easier and more enjoyable!