Jogging with your kid – What you need to know
By Donna • March 5, 2017 • Blog Articles
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.