Getting back into an exercise groove after having a baby can take some time. And if you’re a runner, you’ll need a few extra months — at least 6, to be exact — before you can lace up your shoes and take your little one on a jog.
Here’s everything you need to know about jogging with your newest addition.
You can keep your running gear packed away for several months after bringing baby home. Most experts say running with your baby in a jogging stroller isn’t recommended until they’re at least 6 months old.
Since most jogging strollers don’t offer a fully reclining seat, Florencia Segura, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician in Vienna, Virginia, says jogging strollers are safe for babies at 6 to 8 months.
“At 6 to 8 months, babies will have the necessary neck and head control in the sitting position to withstand fast movements and sharp turns safely to avoid a possible whiplash or head injury,” says Segura.
In addition to getting the green light from your pediatrician, she also encourages families to follow the specific stroller manufacturer’s guidelines and check for recalls.
Even when your baby reaches the safe age to take a stroll in the jogging stroller, consider walking or jogging slowly with them in it first. This will help you get used to the stroller and see how your little one reacts to this new adventure.
And before you head out the door, make sure you have the right equipment and a thumbs-up from your doctor.
Shopping for a jogging stroller can feel overwhelming — to say the least. With top-of-the-line features and the latest and greatest in steering technology, drink holders, and sun visors, deciding on the right stroller sometimes comes down to two basic factors: cost and safety.
On the safety side, Rebecca Kordecki, AFAA, ACE-certified personal trainer, says the first thing to check for is a manufacturer recall. “Be sure to check the make and model for any recalls — especially if you buy your stroller secondhand,” she says.
Checking for recalls
You can search the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website for stroller recalls.
You’ll also want to check for a wide base on the stroller to ensure a better foundation, which decreases the likelihood of tipping over.
Kordecki also says a safe jogging stroller must have a 5-point harness system to fully protect your baby while moving. “Just one bump or a quick stop can jolt your baby, and if not properly restrained, this could be dangerous,” she explains.
And finally, don’t rely on age limits to determine the safety and usability of a stroller. Always check the weight and height requirements since every child grows differently for their age.
Lauren Floris, USA Track and Field (USATF) certified running coach and BOB Gear ambassador, says the wheels are a key thing to consider when looking for a jogging stroller. “Some jogging strollers have a fixed front wheel, while others have a switch on the front wheel that allows runners to lock for run-mode and unlock for walk-mode,” she explains.
Floris says it’s safest to lock the front wheel into place when the jogging stroller is being used for running or jogging to prevent the stroller from tipping. Rugged, air-filled tires also make it easier to jog on various surfaces like sidewalks and gravel.
Another thing to look for in a safe jogging stroller, says Floris, is a wrist strap. “Parents should wear their jogging stroller’s wrist strap while doing any type of exercise, as it provides added security by keeping the stroller near the parent during their routine,” she explains.
Finally, check for a parking brake, which you can use when resting.
Any parent can tell you that all the baby gear you need to buy adds up quickly. And while you may find ways to cut costs and eliminate duplicates, minimizing costs by using your 3-in-1 stroller for jogging isn’t the answer.
“Parents should avoid jogging or running with a traditional stroller because the lack of a fixed-front wheel could make it difficult to control at a quickened pace,” explains Floris. Having a fixed wheel provides stability to help prevent the stroller from tipping over while running.
A jogging stroller is also a lot comfier for your little one since they have a suspension system with adjustable shocks that are built specifically for a higher level of impact. The wheels on jogging strollers are also larger than traditional strollers, and the tires are inflatable, unlike most regular strollers.
Floris says these features make jogging strollers superior for running and ensure a smooth ride for parents and kids.
Getting outdoors with your baby is good for both your physical and mental health. It’s also a great way to introduce your little one to the sounds and sights in nature. They get to breathe fresh air and check out the birds while watching you take care of yourself.
Exercise, in general, is an excellent way for new parents to:
- manage stress
- boost mood and energy
- burn calories
- strengthen and tone muscles
- get better sleep
- lose extra weight gained during pregnancy
Plus, did we mention the fantastic upper body and core workout you get when pushing a jogging stroller uphill? Since you’re pushing against resistance (your baby!), you’re also recruiting the muscles in your arms, shoulders, upper back, and core to generate power to propel you up the hill.
Now that you have the stroller picked out and your baby has the head and neck strength to go for a run safely, it’s time to consider any extra precautions you should take before pounding the pavement.
The first thing to do is to get comfortable pushing the stroller without your baby in it. Kordecki recommends placing a heavy object in the stroller to mimic your baby’s weight. This will help you to test stopping and starting the stroller, as well as get comfortable using your dominant and/or non-dominant arm while pushing.
Since this isn’t a normal feeling, Kordecki says it may take some time for your walking or running gait and balance to get in sync.
Once you’ve gotten comfortable with the stroller, checked the weather forecast, applied sunscreen, and packed snacks and water, Kordecki tells parents it’s time for a quick “mommy and baby check” before heading outdoors.
“I encourage doing a personal body check, baby check, and stroller check prior to every outing,” she says. With that in mind, here’s her checklist for safety:
- Mommy/daddy check. Check for things like your shoes being tied snug and secure.
- Baby check. Check that your baby is securely settled into the 5-point harness.
- Stroller check. Be sure nothing is hanging off the sides that could get tangled while running. Do a pre-run check for the proper tire pressure, and test the brakes on the stroller to ensure they’re working.
Kordecki also reminds new parents that since you’re adding a challenge by pushing and adjusting your body in motion, it’s a good idea to allow for a slower pace. In other words, don’t use these workouts to crush your mile time.
And finally, make sure to be mindful of your surroundings and look down periodically to check your running surface. “As an avid runner myself, even without having a stroller in front of me while running, I often miss my footing due to unstable surfaces — so being extra mindful while running with a stroller is critical,” she adds.
Deciding when your baby is developmentally ready to join you on a jog in your jogging stroller is an exciting step and necessary for their safety. Although the minimum age to run with your baby in a jogging stroller is 6 months, your baby may not be ready until they’re closer to the 8-month mark.
When in doubt, ask your doctor whether your little one is ready. They can assess your baby’s head and neck strength and help you choose an appropriate jogging stroller.