Those first few months (or years, let’s be honest) after you bring a baby home have a way of throwing any sense of normalcy out the window. It isn’t unusual for new parents to find themselves tethered the house more than they like. And like any other part of your life, a big transition can throw your exercise habits into disarray.
If you’re longing for vistas beyond the four walls of your living room, walking and running with a stroller are great options. If you’re new to stroller running and the whole endeavor feels a little overwhelming, we get it. But with a little preparation and flexibility, stroller jogs can be a fantastic way to get you and your baby out into the world.
1. Preparation is everything
Babies are predictably unpredictable. You can count on them to get hungry or messy or frustrated at the least convenient moment and that won’t change just because you’re in running shoes. The last thing you want is to be halfway through a run, a few miles or more away from home, and realize you’ve forgotten a critical item.
The usual supplies like diapers, wipes, and snacks or bottles are no-brainers, but those are also the things it’s easiest to forget. It won’t hurt to keep a small bag with your running shoes and make re-stocking it part of your post-run ritual.
You’ll also want to consider the weather more than you would for just yourself. Will your baby be too hot or too cold? Can your stroller be adjusted to block harsh light? Do you need to bring an alternate outfit or an extra blanket? What about sunscreen? Balancing everything you need while still keeping the cargo light enough to push around can take some practice, but you’ll find the right balance just in time for the season to change.
Embrace the chaos and don’t be hard on yourself if you have to head back to the house early the first few times.
2. Choose the right stroller for your plans
You don’t need to go out and spend a lot of money just to get you and your baby out of the house. But if you want to run, a jogging stroller is the safest bet because they’re designed to operate at higher speeds an on a wider variety of terrains while keeping the ride smooth and your baby happy.
The New York Times tested dozens of jogging strollers and picked out their favorites, and Good Housekeeping has a list of recommendations, as well. Each stroller has its own benefits and disadvantages including weight, features, and cost. Finding the right jogging stroller for you will be a matter of bumping those benefits and costs against your own needs and resources.
3. Learn the core stroller features
Strollers come with a lot of bells and whistles, but these are the features that can make or break your happiness with your choice:
- Safety: Look for a stroller with a five-point harness, a handbrake, and a wrist strap. The five-point harness will keep your child secure in the stroller, while the handbrake will allow you to quickly slow down or stop the stroller. The wrist strap will prevent the stroller from getting away from you if you lose your grip.
- Size and weight: Jogging strollers are typically larger and heavier than traditional strollers. Make sure to consider the size and weight of the stroller, as well as how easy it is to fold, store, and lift into your vehicle.
- Wheel type: Jogging strollers typically have three wheels, with either a fixed or swivel front wheel. A fixed wheel is better for running on straight paths, while a swivel wheel is better for maneuvering through tight spaces. Consider the type of terrain you’ll be running on, or look for a stroller with a lockable wheel.
- Suspension: Good suspension equals a smoother ride for your little one. This is especially important if you plan to run on rough terrain or have a light sleeper.
- Adjustability: Look for a stroller with an adjustable handlebar and reclining seat to accommodate your height and your child’s comfort.
- Storage: Consider the amount of storage space available on the stroller. Water, snacks, and extra clothes can add up fast.
- Price: Jogging strollers can be expensive, but there are many options and great used options in most areas.
4. Don’t forget your own comfort
Your baby will be riding in comfort like the precious cargo they are, but you’ll be taking the brunt of every single step.
Shoes: Good, supportive shoes are important for any type of jogging, and that’s especially true in the months following one of the most significant physical challenges a human body can experience.
Clothes: Look for something with solid support and good traction, and opt for a high-quality legging with firmer compression than you might wear around the house.
Sports Bra: Whether you’re nursing or not, a supportive running bra is a non-negotiable. Look for lined options with adjustable closures and sweat-wicking fabrics.
5. Go easy on yourself
You’re dealing with a lot right now. Whether this is your first baby or you’re a seasoned parenting pro, you’re dealing with diapers and feeding, crying and bathing, cleaning and soothing—all the wonderful and difficult parts of parenthood.
There can be a lot of pressure to jump right back into the fray and that pressure can become a feeling of shame or failure when and if you stumble. It’s okay to take breaks and ease into your fitness routine. Let stroller running be a source of joy and fulfillment for you and your baby, instead of another demand upon your resources. One foot in front of the other, that’s the trick.