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Stroller Safety 101

By Donna July 5, 2017 Blog Articles

Why stroller safety is important

If you are a runner or not, you will need to know all there is about stroller safety. Our little kids are the most precious little beings we want to protect from any harm. When using a stroller for either jogging or just casual walks there are safety measures that must be considered at all times.

Have you watched or seen the news lately? More and more horror stories are getting out with strollers that were not secured properly, running off and falling onto train tracks or busy streets. This is a terrifying thing to imagine as a fresh parent. We want to avoid this from happening at all cost! Hence this is why safety is so important.

Below I have compiled an article with the most important aspects with regards to keeping your kid safe in any kind of stroller. Please feel free to add any comment below this article if you have anything to add. We all share a common goal here. Keeping our kids out of harm’s way.

Stroller safety tips

Making your jogging stroller safe for infants is priority number one. My personal tips for you in order to put safety first. These points are not in order of priority. I consider them all more or less equally important.

your Mindset

You are the parent. You are responsible for not only yourself but also of your infant. In early their years they just don’t know any better and will try all sorts of stuff such as jumping out of the stroller or chariot. You will need to try to anticipate possible scenarios and, ideally, prepare for them. In reality, you will never be able to think about everything. The little ones are usually also particularly creative. They will find ways to put themselves in harm’s way you would never have thought possible.

Be alert and aware

One of my all-time favorite TV quotes from Friends has got to be Ross. He refers to the state of total awareness as “Unagi.” The Japanese word means eel. Yummy! But jokes aside I hope you know where I’m getting at. Be aware of where you are and what moving objects could cross your path when out and about.

Sidewalks

A significant difficulty is navigating sidewalks in urban or suburban areas, mainly when the sidewalk is busy. Other fellow people tend to be oblivious to the fact that you are pushing around more than 50 or more pounds and can’t evade as quickly as they can. Being considerate is even less frequent especially the more you go to urban areas. Everybody is preoccupied with their phones and don’t also pay attention to whats going on in front of their faces. I call them Phone Zombies. You need to think of them. Look how they walk and anticipate where they are going. I can’t recall how many times a Zombie walked into my stroller and in worst case waking up my sleeping boy.

Street crossings

If you cross the street, do it safely and watch the pavement for cracks and debris obstructing your path. You can buy strollers with adjustable suspensions. These shock absorbers give you with a much smoother ride and lower vibration and tremors on the stroller. Having pneumatic air-filled wheels is an additional suspension that will improve your experience for the better.
Learn how to operate your stroller.

Every stroller or chariot is different. Learn how yours moves, turns and brakes. You will want to get a feeling for your stroller. Once you are familiar with how you can handle the stroller, you will be maneuvering much faster and more comfortable. Like everything in life the more practice, you have the better you get. Moreover, learning how much the brakes can handle is very important. Your weight and load will vary, and you want to be sure that you can steer safely.

Mind the strap

One safety guard I continuously preach is the use of a wrist-strap. I strongly advise you either purchase a stroller with a built-in strap or DIY one yourself. Everyone has random strings or braids lying around at home. Ty a loop around your wrist and attach the other end to the stroller. The advantage of the DIY version is it almost costs nothing since you already have the material lying around, and you can adjust the length as per your desire. Having a longer strap will give you the ability to steer with one hand and alternate the arms. The little downside is you have to pay attention to not get the cord or string tangled up in your rear wheels.

Why is it so important to have a wrist strap? If you plan to go for jogging with your stroller which I assume you do if you are browsing this blog. You most certainly will need a safety strap. You will probably go off track or off-road and downhill. This is where the strap is invaluable. You could trip and accidentally lose grip of the stroller. It can be wet because it recently rained and you could lose your footing and trip. The dangers are endless. I can only repeat, always wear a wrist-strap!

off track? No problem, if you have a handbrake

As I just mentioned above a handbrake will be invaluable if you want to go off track or off-road jogging with your stroller. Think about running a steep slope downhill and holding onto the stroller weighing more than 60 pounds or more. Now imagine you weigh 130 pounds or less. You will most definitely have a hard time grasping the stroller while running downhill. This is the reason why you need a handbrake. You can do without, but your experience will be much more pleasant with one.

Parking your stroller right and activate the rear wheel brake

Adding to the importance of using a wrist-strap comes the rear wheel brake. I strongly advise securing your brakes every time you park your stroller. Be it even just for standing a minute. Make a habit out of it. You want to avoid having the stroller running off especially if you are not wearing a wrist-strap. This is a crucial point.

Stroller maintenance

Keep your stroller well maintained. The everyday use of your stroller will put a serious strain on the materials and frame. Keeping it in shape is very important for all safety aspects. You will want to regularly check your wheels for air pressure in case of pneumatic tires. If you are running low on air pressure, you will have a hard time maneuvering the stroller. Gas stations usually provide free portable devices with compressed air that fit the valves on pneumatic wheels (there the same as bicycles).

Wheels and frame

Most probably your wheels and or the frame can start squeaking or squealing over time. This is normal as every material will start “working” when exposed to the elements. Keep the bearings and joints lubricated if you need to. You don’t have to take special lubricant any regular household general lubricant (WD40) will do just fine.

Brakes

Regularly check all brake systems you may have on your stroller. If you have a handbrake, test for functionality. If you only have rear wheel brakes check if they still latch correctly.

Seams

Check the seams on your stroller every few weeks. If the fabric is a carrying element for the seat, you want to know that it will hold. You want to avoid going for a run and having the material fail while in full motion.
Your stroller, in general, can be compared to a bicycle and needs to be maintained similarly. It’s not hard, but you need to do it to keep it functioning correctly and also keep the value of your stroller higher than compared to a neglected one. If you depend on every dollar, you may want to sell it later second-hand. What buyers are looking for is a well-maintained stroller. Just think what you would pay attention to if you were buying a used stroller.

Neck support, wait for your kid to be older than 6 months

Please don’t start jogging with your baby before the minimum age of 6 Months. Chances are your infant doesn’t yet have the neck stability to support the head movement. Jogging with a stroller will put pressing force on your baby’s neck, and you could cause severe damage. Just treat it the same as if you hold your baby. Until your child can support its head, you also carry it with supporting the head. Now, no science dictates when exactly your kid will be ready. But as a general rule of thumb children, age 6-8 months start have developed enough muscles to support the head. Listen to your gut feeling. If you can hold your kid in your arms and it keeps its head upright by himself? Your good to go. If not, instead wait a bit. Every kid is different and needs more or less time to develop. Your child will get there, don’t worry. You can also always ask your kids physician on their opinion.

Newborn bassinet may provide a solution

The exception to the rule above is a stroller that fully reclines or one with a newborn bassinet instead of a seat. However, I still would not recommend going earlier due to possible shocks and hits due to debris and other obstructions. Regular walks and strolls yes but not running. If you insist on trying it before your infant is 6-8 months old, you can ask your physician for his opinion.

Headphones are no Bueno

I said it in another blog post. Please don’t wear headphones when running. You will become one of the zombies oblivious to their surroundings. When running with an infant, you will need to be fully attentive and aware in case your child needs you. Moreover, your ability to react quickly to environmental situations drastically declines. Enjoy the sounds of your surroundings. I can only recommend going for a run in the woods. There is nothing more soothing and stress relaxing than gliding through the forest for a good hour or two fully absorbing the fresh air, the various sounds, and the peaceful view.

Don’t hang any bags from the handlebar

Use the strollers intended storage compartment for bringing along supplies and items. Dangling strings can get tangled in the wheels and cause abrupt stops or that you even trip and fall. If you ever rode a bike and got a stick in your wheel will know what I mean. Additionally, the added weight of the bag could lead to the stroller to tip over backward. According to a study in Academic Pediatrics, this is a significant source of stroller injuries.

Conclusion

Don’t get discouraged from all of the above. Go out and have fun! But do it safely. I have very fond memories of the first few running sessions I had with my baby boy. Man, was I out of shape after giving birth, but it felt so rewarding when I started jogging again. The physical exhaustion was there but the released endorphins gave me a great sense of accomplishment. Everybody who works out regularly knows this feeling. Plus I enjoy the bonding with my Boy when we are out together.

5 fun activities for your kids including your stroller

By Donna June 5, 2017 Blog Articles

In the following article, I want to equip you with the tools to provide something for yourself and your local community. Personally, I have done all of the activities and the friendship and gratefulness I got in return have been really great. You will meet other parents that you can share your struggles and stories with. I know for anybody without a kid it can be annoying talking to fresh parents. Everything revolves around bowel movements and eating or sleeping habits. So meet up with like-minded and share your life. They will have the same struggles as you believe me. It just helps to know that you’re not the only one struggling with some of the issues. It’s not easy, but if you get through the growing pains the rewards in form of love you get are simply worth it.

Create activities and adventures for your little ones

Stuck at home and your kid is pushing your buttons? Screaming toddlers driving you crazy? Your kids not sleeping through the night waking up multiple times? Welcome to the madhouse called parenthood! 

Your kids most likely are either just bored and seeking attention or they’re just being normal kids. In my experience, kids need constant occupation or they will create it for themselves. Everything is new to them. They are like little high-octane reactors constantly drawing energy from god knows where. I guess I was the same as a kid *grin.

Create adventures for them! Invite them to discover the outdoors. Try to be clever and provide them with great activities that will drain their energy. Heck, you could even get them to sleep through the night. How awesome would that be?

1) Bicycle ride to the park

Baby Strollers

Pack your bags and get ready to take your kids to the park! If you can and have a chariot stroller get your supplies ready and strap that chariot to your bike. Strap your little buggers in and off you go.

  1. You will get exercise while traveling to the park
  2. Your kids will most likely keep quiet as the motion tends to soothe them. If not just drain their energy with fun games or a long walk. I promise they will calm down.

When you’re at the park you can do various things.

  • Go for a run.
  • Casual strolls around the pavements or pathways
  • Have a picnic
  • Bug hunt or bird watching
  • Play hide and seek

ProTip -> Make friends with other parents that are also visiting the park with their kids. Ideally, both of your kids will get along and they can play together and be occupied. This will give you and the other parents some breathing room to either catch a break or have a chat with them.

2) Scavenger Hunt

Baby Strollers

One of the most fun activities outside is a scavenger hunt! I have planned and organized one so far, and it was a blast! The more time you put into it, the more fun it will be for everyone.

If you already go out on regular runs maybe to the forest or nearby parks, this will be significantly easier. Just plan your route or stops somewhere along the way. Don’t make it too long as everybody has different fitness levels and may find it physically challenging.

You will need helpers. Recruit friends and family or other parents from your neighborhood that want to participate.

Structure your Hunt! There is a good site that provides free great information on how to create a Scavenger Hunt in detail. Don’t forget to think about prizes. A lot of the excitement the kids get is from friendly competition. You can even teach your kids the first lesson on how to deal with competition from peers. Don’t go overboard in promoting competitiveness too strong, but let them be their personalities. This is the approach I am taking.

Ideally, you want to design the hunt with the kids in mind. Do the riddles easy that the kids can figure out the solutions and answers themselves. The parents should only be supervisors and “staff” in the hunt.

At the end of the hunt form an awards ceremony and celebrate the winners. Why not combine with a barbecue or outdoor picnic at the end? A great way to end a fun and exciting day.

3) Stroller Race

Baby Strollers

If you’re really into serious running and jogging with your stroller check for various local races. There are regular races that have terms that allow running with a stroller and kid. Just manage your expectations – you probably won’t be the leader of the pack.

Something I would rather recommend is dedicated stroller races. So everybody will be like-minded and understanding. There is a good website that lists races that are organized across the United States (RunStrollerRun). You can search for pre-organized races through location and find other various interesting articles and posts. The authority site to check if you are into stroller racing or want to start.

Prepare yourself appropriately for the race and train with your kids. This can be a very fun and exciting experience for everybody involved. Try not to be too competitive but show your kids that motivation and following through is important, regardless of the outcome.

4) Playground meetup with friends

Baby Strollers

This one is hands down my favorite outdoor kid activity. I do this every other day. Find friends at your local park or meet up with existing friends and family. If you are a stay at home mom or dad and have lots of free time to fill out ideally, you want to go out with your toddlers as much as possible. The fresh air has a very positive effect on your kids. My boy usually sleeps better if we spend a part of the day outside.

Refer to possibilities in the first activity for more to do’s in a park. My favorite aspect of this is when meeting up with others the kids usually take care of themselves apart from drinking and feeding or changing diapers.

The best part is the social forum. With being a full-time stay at home mom, I sometimes miss social interaction with other adults. You will have lots of time to socialize and get some moral support from like-minded parents. We all are going through our struggles, but sharing can provide significant relief. Sometimes just getting troubles off your chest can make your day. I enjoy the days where I go out to the playground for meetups.

5) Camping trips with cycle or running routes

Baby Strollers

The last recommendation I can give is to plan a camping trip with your family. Man, they are so much fun! Bring your bicycles along if you can and have the cargo space on the car. Or even go with your bikes?

There are so many possibilities. Sleeping in a tent and cooking on an open fire really is something special. Family bonding time is so important. You can teach your kids a lot and you spend all time in beautiful mother nature.

I recently made a camping trip with my husband and son. Our first but I will never forget it. We stayed for 2 nights at a lake with a managed camping area. It had basic amenities such as a local small shop for supplies, a shower area with hot and cold water, private toilet stalls and a camp guide. If need be they can assist you in putting up a tent or any other help you may need. We received a designated little lot with lots of room on both sides. The woods to the back and the lake in front. What a view!

Some of the activities we did

  • Sing songs together
  • Built a campfire
  • Cooked lunch and dinner on the campfire
  • Went on long walks through the forest
  • Swimming in the lake (the water was cold!)
  • Bike tours
  • Running routes with the jogger

We had a ton of fun. Even though my boy doesn’t speak well I could tell he had a blast! We will be doing this every year at least once from now on. We did a few miles jogging both days so we got our workout in there a well.

Jogging with your kid – What you need to know

By Donna March 5, 2017 Blog Articles

Safety first

Before you even start to think about going on a longer tour with your kid you need to think about the safety of your little passenger. There is a lot of things to consider and safety always comes first.

Maintenance

First and foremost check if your stroller is jogging worthy and can take the shocks. What will help are different features such as front wheel lock, pneumatic air-filled tires and rear wheel suspension. A regular stroller without air-filled wheels and no shock absorbing suspension will be very unpleasant for you and your kid. It will not be a satisfactory experience. Also, you have stability issues, and you could trip easily tilting the stroller to the side and endangering your little one.

Equipment

Very very important is the harness system. Most modern strollers (models 2016 and onwards) feature 5 point harnesses, preferably you want it padded as well. The padding will provide additional comfort to your kid and in case of an emergency stop absorb some of the force.

If you are a serious runner and go on long off-road trails, you will want a handbrake attached to the handlebar. In case you will reduce your speed if you pick up too much which can happen very quickly. Sometimes you can’t predict the slope or track because of various factors such as low light or other obstructing environments. If your stroller doesn’t have a handbrake, you will have a hard time controlling your stroller and could eventually trip and fall.

stroller running tips

One of the most important features is the wrist-strap. You will want one in most cases. I would even advise having one attached to you at all times. Who hasn’t seen the shocking videos online where absent-minded parents let the stroller unattended, and it rolled away? I’ve seen some disturbing videos of strollers falling on train tracks or moving onto busy roads. I don’t want to imagine this happening to my child! I either have strollers with wrist-straps, or I DIY them with random strings or braids I have lying around at home. It doesn’t have to be flashy, but It will do the job.

Just as crucial to the handbrake are the rear wheel brakes. They are the second most vital feature every stroller has nowadays. If you let go of your stroller for just even a second be sure to lock the stroller in place. You can activate the brakes with the foot either in the middle or on both sides of each wheel individually. Even the slightest slope or uneven surface will lead the stroller to run away fast if you don’t activate the locks or brakes.

Be a responsible parent

You are the parent. The most important thing of all is to remember you have the responsibility of more than yourself. Your kid depends on you making sound decisions when concerned with jogging and stroller safety. Always be aware of your surroundings. Check for road or path quality and obstructing debris. Know your stroller. Can it handle slight cracks and bumps or should you instead slow down and pass safely. When crossing a road always calculate for additional crossing time. You will not be as fast as when running solo. You need to get used to the new circumstances especially if you run on familiar routes.

Ok now that we got that out-of-the-way let’s get to the tips. Some of the suggestions go into the safety realm, but they are worth to be mentioned again!

 
baby stroller

1) Find and plan a course

If you are already a runner before getting your first or subsequent kid you will have your familiar courses and tours. You can probably ditch them as the will not be suitable for jogging with your kid and your jogging stroller. An exact and deliberately planned route will provide you and your kid with comfort and give you a great running experience. Consider the time needed to complete the course and pack necessary supplies. You will need diapers for example. I promise! You never know when your little can start screaming from the top of their lungs because they want a change. If you or your partner breastfeed, consider feeding before the run. Again to avoid having a screaming baby in the middle of the route.

2) Avoid urban routes with traffic

Choose your route wisely. Think about your passenger and yourself. If you have the option to plan a course in a nearby park or have a way with minimal traffic to a park, I would prefer this over a road in the suburbs or even the city. First, you will have a much smoother ride thus your kid will be much more comfortable. They will complain less believe me. Also, consider the toxic CO2 emissions. Give yourself and your kid the fresh air you deserve. You will feel energized and revitalized after a tour. Depending on the age of your kid they do still have somewhat fragile lungs, and you don’t want to load them with toxins this early. They will breathe enough of that during their lifetime. Also, you won’t have to pay that much attention to traffic and be more relaxed.

3) Neck and Head stability

Consider your baby’s physique before going on a jogging tour or trail. Tiny babies (under six months) usually are not that sturdy yet and can’t support the impact forces on head and neck. You will need a car seat adapter and even then listen to your gut feeling. You will know when he or she is ready. Usually, you will start noticing when your kid is beginning to support his head by himself when you hold them. Also, consider padding in-car seat adapters and maybe getting a neck pillow for additional support.

4) Stroller maintenance is important

Just like a bike your stroller needs some tender loving care. After all, you are entrusting it with your most precious little kid and expect it to do the job you bought it to do. Carry your child and safeguard it while providing you with a great strolling or jogging experience. You will keep the stroller functional this way and prevent wear and tear on the parts. If money is tight, you will need to hold on to that stroller for a while, and your kid will grow and become heavier.

  • Check the functionality of the brakes
  • Check for squeaking or squealing at the wheels (bearings)

If you need to you can lubricate with multipurpose lubricant (WD40 is a Pro-tip of my husband, you can use it to grease just about anything mechanical).

  • Check your tires for a flat. Do they still have enough pressure to provide maneuverability and suspension? If you’re running low on air most gas stations, have portable units with pressurized compressed air that fit the valves. That’s where I go to top them up.

5) Lock or fix your front wheel in place

Dedicated jogging strollers either come with a fixed front wheel (attachment) or with a swivel that can be locked in place. I suggest you always close it when going on a run, to prevent the front wheel from “wobbling” and creating unstable handling. Also, this will stop the stroller from doing sudden turns and possibly cause you to crash an object or fall.

6) Protect your kid from Weather

Consider how you adapt to the outside conditions. For running, you are usually advised to dress a tad lighter due to the exercise heating you up. But your kid is not exercising. Possibly being subject to drafts or winds that can cool it down considerably. Check for airflow and get to know your stroller. Always dress your kid warmer than yourself. Think about what clothes you would wear and how you would feel in current conditions if you were to sit in a chair and being pushed around at higher speeds.

On warmer days be sure not to overdress your child as that could cause heat strokes and dehydrate your kid very quickly, which is very dangerous. Also, check sun protection options such as various canopy positions. You don’t want to have your kid having a constant glare at his or her head. Add sunscreen even if you can completely shade your kid. UV light also can reflect on your surroundings. Kids have very fragile skin and need that extra protection to avoid severe long-term damage already in these early years!

7) Bring supplies (as if the world will end…)

Almost every stroller features some basket or baggage compartment for personal belongings. I would strongly advise bringing diapers, wipes, water, and snacks. Consider even bringing back up clothes for your child as there can be diaper accidents. I always pack backup clothes and was more than once happy to have brought it with me. Also, bring a thin jacket or a sweater for yourself. If you take a break in between, you want to avoid exposing yourself to draft or cold air when your sweating. A toy or a book for your kid can also be essential to having a peaceful and quiet tour. And did I say snacks? Bring plenty. My son eats a ton of his favorite puffed corn chips (unsalted), and it keeps him happy.

8) Secure your kid with the harness

It’s essential to secure your kid safely with the harness. You have to adjust the length of the straps correctly so that it still provides comfort while holding your passenger in place. Check for additional padding on the harness. Some jogging stroller models offer added padding. Always assure that the buckle is safely closed and fully connected (listen for the click). I remember more than once how the fastener opened because I locked it in a hurry. I was quite shocked when I discovered it.Also, your kid will try to escape the stroller at some point. A tightly secured harness will prevent your kid from dropping out of the seat and injuring himself.

9) Mind the weight

When planning your route keep in mind, you will have added weight to push. Don’t dismiss this. Preferably start doing courses and laps that are mainly flat. See your times and how you are coping. If you can, take it up it a notch (but only a notch at a time). The added lbs will wear you down! Don’t go all out on your first tour. Slowly add distance as you progress. My average added weight including my boy and stroller with supplies easily reaches 65 lbs depending on which stroller I am using.

10) Be in control of your stroller

When running alone you use a lot of momentum on climbs and slopes. This is much more difficult to accomplish when jogging with a stroller and it’s added weight. Always use the wrist-strap safety attachment or tie one yourself, in case you lose control or grip on downhill slopes. Be wary of your surroundings so that you can correct your speed or course in time.

11) Time your runs to your advantage

I would give you the advice to instead run before nap time than after. The motion of the jogging and stroller movement usually helps your kid to fall asleep. This can be a big help especially with kids that have difficulty falling asleep. I remember my boy had troubles when he was approximately nine months old. He would not fall asleep in his crib and was screaming for extended periods of time. What helped was to pack him in the stroller an either go for a walk or a jog. After 5 minutes he fell asleep and was relaxed all the way until home again.

12) Your posture and arms

When running with a stroller automatically, your body will try to adjust to the added resistance and weight. This happens automatically, and you need to be aware of it. Rather than hunching over the stroller with your upper body try to push the stroller with force coming from your legs and use the momentum. But always keep control over the stroller!

When running solo your arms and the motion create added momentum. You will not have this when jogging with a stroller. You can push with one hand though and alternate the arms. This way you do get some of the momentum back. But be wary of the wrist-strap that it’s long enough to support the switch but remain attached.

13) Plan and prepare for breaks

Your kid will not always be calm and quiet for the entire route or trip. Most likely you will have to stop to check on your kid multiple times. Maybe a diaper change is needed. Perhaps they are hungry or thirsty. Or sometimes you don’t know what is bothering them or they are just restless. Plan for this. In tip seven we talked about the supplies. Crack out something to eat or drink. Give them a toy. If nothing helps let them out of the stroller for a few minutes.

14) Your own gear matters too

Just as regular running you need to be aware of your gear. Good fitting running shoes will provide excellent support and traction. You don’t want to slip and fall. Running clothes for yourself is also very important. You will get a sweat going if you go on two or more mile routes. Dedicated running attire has breathing functions and will balance the heat on your skin. It also absorbs the sweat. Plus you can buy beautiful clothes – who doesn’t love that! There’s  plenty of brands and gear shops out there. I do however recommend to purchase the shoes in a specialized retail store that can give dedicated buying advice. By far the most critical part are appropriate running shoes. You want to avoid causing harm to your feet when running incorrectly.

15) Don’t use earbuds

Let’s keep the mantra going. Always be aware of your surroundings. Including audio signals. It’s proven that if you wear earbuds while out, you lose focus and attention. Don’t be one of these oblivious people getting yourself and your kid in harm’s way! Stay alert and keep your ears free. You will also be able to pay attention to your kid and pick up on their signals.

Afterthought

Running with your kid can be extremely rewarding. I have bonded very much with my boy while working out! The added weight definitely provided me with a strength boost after I got used to it. Also, my kid gets outside to breathe fresh air. Being outside with your kid can be such big joy and give you lots of memorable moments. After all, they grow up very fast. Make the most out of these moments and enjoy every one of them.

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