One of the things I was most looking forward to when I was pregnant was running with our baby. I ran all throughout my pregnancy, and I even ran the day I went to the hospital to have him. And now that I’m a mom of a 10 month old, my new favorite thing in the world is running with him in the stroller.
But, getting out the house to run is much more of an ordeal now that I’m a mom, especially if Thomas is coming along. I have to consider all sorts of things like what time is best for us to run around his eating and sleeping schedules; the weather (too hot? too cold? rainy? windy?); if I need water or snacks for me and/or him; I have to think about my running mechanics; and, most importantly, I have to make sure Thomas is safe and happy.
Running, whether solo or with Thomas in the stroller, is great for my mental health, especially now that I’m able to run again postpartum. Plus, it really is so efficient to get a workout in and get us both some time outside by taking him in the stroller. So it’s worth sorting through all the logistics. So, today, I’m sharing my tips for how to run with a baby because as you can imagine or already know, running with a baby and a stroller is very different. It’s challenging but it can also be a lot of fun!
Remember, this post is not intended to serve as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. I’m just sharing my experience for helpful purposes only. (Always check with YOUR doctor!)
How to Run with a Baby
1. Check with your pediatrician
First, make sure you check with your pediatrician before you start running with your baby. Most doctors will tell you to wait until at least 6 months and your little one has good head control. I think Thomas was around 7 months before I took him out for his first stroller run. And I kept it nice and short just so he could get used to it. Thankfully, he loved it! And so did I!
2. Check with your pelvic floor specialist
I would really encourage you to check with a pelvic floor specialist to see if it’s okay to start running, especially if you’re running within a year of giving birth, and especially if you plan to run with a stroller. It’s one thing to get cleared for running, but it’s another thing to be cleared to run while pushing a stroller. Some PTs will say that running with a stroller is great since it will help stabilize your core, while others will say it can create more problems. It really depends on your personal situation and health. But the bottom line is to make sure you work with a pelvic floor PT.
3. Use a running-specific stroller
When we were doing research on running strollers, we landed on the Thule Urban Glide. A jogging stroller — vs. your everyday stroller – is much easier to push and typically has better suspension to create a comfortable ride for you and your little one.
Jogging strollers are also the safest option for your baby. Our Thule has a padded 5-point harness and reflective rims on the canopy and on all the wheels. It also has an integrated hand brake to provide speed control when running downhill. And a wrist strap so I never lose control of the stroller. And, it’s simply more comfortable to run with given the suspension and ergonomic handlebar. As much as we love our regular stroller, it is NOT the best option for running.
Quick note on the Thule: I rented a different, more well-known brand of jogging strollers — a BOB –from BabyQuip when I flew to Utah with Thomas and the Thule was MUCH better. Read my full review of the Thule here.
4. Be intentional with your route
I can’t run my usual running route if I’m taking Thomas along. There is way too much traffic and a few sections where there isn’t a sidewalk and the road is too busy. So, I have specific routes I run with him or I drive to run with the stroller to a flat trail or a quieter spot. Plus, my neighborhood is HILLY and a break from that can be nice, especially if I’m pushing the stroller. If you are stuck with hills, just know that you will likely run a slower pace and may need to walk more when you’re running with the stroller. Heck, that’s true even if it’s a flat route. And that’s okay!
5. Experiment with different hand placement
Running with a jogging stroller is no joke. My most comfortable hand placement is to hold the stroller with one arm (usually my right) and swing my left arm, but I try to switch which hand is on the stroller every so often since it does cause some strain and I want to minimize muscle imbalances as much as possible. Switching arms helps a TON. If I’m going downhill, I ALWAYS loop my hand through the wrist strap (which is positioned on the left side) so I don’t ever lose control of the stroller. I also keep my hand on the brake (which is integrated into the handlebar on the Thule) when running downhill.
When I’m running up hill, I like to put both hands on the stroller, since I seem to get more power this way. Some of my friends disagree and use one hand so they get power from swinging their other arm, so try it out and see which works best for you. There’s no right or wrong way. Be sure to engage your glutes to help you up hills!
6. Lock the front wheel
Most jogging strollers will have the option to lock the front wheel in place or they have a fixed front wheel. If you’re running a straight route (e.g. a greenway), this can be a great option for easier maneuverability. Since most my routes have lots of turns, I almost never have mine locked in place since it’s too difficult to maneuver it with it locked. But, if you are running a route with lots of bumps, always lock the front wheel since it will prevent the stroller from turning suddenly, causing you and your little one to crash or fall.
7. Be flexible with your training plan
If you can only fit in runs when you’re running with a stroller, it may not be the time to try to PR in the marathon. Trying to hit specific paces or do a nuanced workout with lots of repeats can be difficult, if not impossible, with the stroller. If you have big running goals but aren’t sure how to fit stroller runs into your training, consider working to a professional run coach, ideally a USATF certified running coach who has experience working with postpartum runners.
Remember that you will be slower with the stroller and it will most likely feel harder. But hey, think how easy it will feel on the days you don’t have the stroller! I don’t worry about my pace at all on stroller run days. I just enjoy the miles listening to Thomas babble. He’s certainly the cutest running buddy I’ve ever had!
8. Prepare for the weather
Make sure to prepare for the weather depending on if it’s hot or cold outside. If you’re running in the cold, make sure to think through keeping your baby warm. Babies aren’t warming up like we are on runs. So they need to be tucked in with extra clothing/cozy layers – think a hat, jacket, booties and a blanket (on top of their regular outfit!). On hot days, make sure to check on your baby to make sure he or she isn’t overheating. Try to run early to avoid the highest temperatures of the day and pick a shady route. Pack water for you and your child. And if you’ll be gone for a while, pack snacks, diapers/wipes, a change of clothes and toys.
It’s always a good idea to check the radar before hitting the road too, since my worst fear is getting caught in a thunderstorm with Thomas!
9. Factor in the time of day
Some people try to run during naptime so their baby sleeps in the stroller. Thomas does NOT sleep in strollers — never has — so I run right after he eats in the morning so he’s full and happy and alert. But not too close to his first nap where he starts to get fussy. It all depends on your baby and what works best!
In the summer, try to run before 11 or after 3 to avoid the highest temperatures of the day and pick a shady route. In the winter, try to run a little later to give it time to warm up so your little one can be comfortable.
If your route has a lot of cars, try to run during off times. Running with a stroller during rush hour may not only be frustrating, but it can also be dangerous with more car encounters.
If you typically run in the dark, really think through a safe route for you and your kiddo — or avoid running in the dark with the stroller entirely. If it’s your only option, avoid highly trafficked roads. Make sure the route is VERY well lit so you don’t trip or run the stroller over something. And make sure both you and the stroller have plenty of visibility. I shared my favorite reflective and lighting gear in this post.
And remember, safety trumps all. If you need to skip a run due to the weather or time of day, you’ll be fine! Just run another day when things will work out better.
10. Be safe
On the safety note…. remember to follow the regular safety precautions you would if you’re running alone. But use even more precautions when you’re taking along such precious cargo. Tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back. Run with your phone in case of an emergency (or in case of super cute kiddo pics that need to happen 😉 ). And if it makes you feel more comfortable, run with mace (I do). The stroller makes it easy to take all of that along!
The bottom line: Have fun and be safe!
Don’t worry about your pace, and have a great time. I stop every 5 minutes or so to check on Thomas to make sure he’s okay. And I always love hearing him babbling while we run. Like I said at the beginning of this post, running with Thomas has become one of my favorite things ever. I’m so thankful that something I loved so much before having Thomas has become even more special to me.
If you’ve been running with a stroller for a while, I’d love to know any other tips you have as a mother runner! Leave a comment below so we can all benefit from your experience!
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