Jogging with Your Baby
Keeping fit while also taking care of a baby can be a challenge. Consider jogging with your child safely tucked away in a special jogging stroller.
Keeping active and fit with a newborn baby is a challenge, even for the most athletic among us. The demands of a new baby and changes in daily (and nighttime) routines throw new parents out of whack. It can become difficult to maintain just your own regular self-care, let alone incorporate a new exercise regimen into the mix. If you’re already a runner, you will have an advantage adding in some running with a jogger, but even then it may take a little getting used to.
Your average running stroller weighs between 20 and 25 pounds, so in addition to your little munchkin (babies should be at least six months before you run with them) and whatever gear you are packing, you will have to adjust your running, time and expectations for a bit until you acclimate. Even then, running with your child vs. running alone will always be a different adventure. Start out slow — don’t anticipate getting much speedwork in at first. Just take the time to get your baby and yourself adjusted. Joggers are expensive, so before buying one it may be worth borrowing or renting a jogger to see what brands/styles work best for you. Everyone is different, and your height, running style and overall fitness will play a role in determining what you like best. Like with parenting in general, running with baby will be a practice in patience and trial and error. But forming this healthy habit with your wee one will pay off for years to come.
You will no doubt be putting in a tougher-than-usual workout when you push a jogger and the result will be more calories burned. To get a more accurate check of calories burned, you can use any number of online calculators (like at healthstatus.com) to first determine number of calories burned without a jogger and then an equivalent workout with one.
James Porter recommends a jogger with swivel front wheel for the best performance and the Bob Revolution Flex ($479.99) offers just that, combined with stateof-the-art adjustable suspension and a nine-position adjustablehandlebar. The five-point padded harness and ultra-padded reclining seat keeps baby or toddler comfy the whole distance.
If the weather is cool or rainy, you will need a weather shield. The Comfy Baby! Universal Rain Cover/Wind Shield (21.99) will protect baby or toddler from the elements, featuring heavy-duty,transparent vinyl and air vents for good circulation.
Depending upon the style of your jogger, you may need to add some accessories to make your runs easier for both of you. The BOB Handlebar Console ($20) is a nice addition with two water bottle holders and a zippered compartment for must-haves like keys, phone and a pacifier or two.
For fun on the run, don’t forget to pack some toys. Marina the Mermaid (by Lamaze, $13.99) can easily attach to your jogger and provide entertainment for you little passenger, with plenty of textures, ribbons and a mirror.
Expert Advice with James Porter
James and his wife Mel live in Manchester with their 4½-year-old daughter, Alice. Porter has been running his wholelife, including track in high school and college. He coaches track for Manchester West High School, is the head cross-country coach at the Derryfield School and is an AFAA-certified personal trainer. He also does private coaching and clinics for locals at Runner’s Alley and is a member of Manchester’s Athletic Alliance Running Club. He is a board member at the YMCA Allard Center and helps with fundraising for their Reach Out for Youth program.
Did you know when Alice was born that you would want to run with her?
Oh yeah, definitely. And I had great friends that I knew who had used them with their kids and, even before she was born, a crew of our friends bought us our jogger as a shower gift. Life gets boiled down to the things you love, and I knew if I was going to keep running and make it a positive thing, then I would need to include her. A lot of my friends already had older kids and I was a stay-at-home Dad, aka “Dude Dad,” and so it was harder for me to stay in touch with my friends. The ability to run with Alice was really important so I could meet up for group runs or at track.
Was it an adjustment at first?
Well, Alice was born two months early, so she was behind for a while in different stages and I couldn’t run with her. It was difficult because I was up with her a lot at night, she had a lot of sleep issues, and I would be up at 3:30 in the morning, baking chocolate chip cookies — and then eating them. I had whatever that weight is called that Dads put on when they have a baby. I had to get out with her, so when she got a little older and the weather was nice enough, I would take her out about twice a week. I would make sure to keep her head stable with some padding and not go out for too long at first.
As she grew into a toddler, how did you keep her occupied while in the jogger?
We made it part of our routine and I would even put it on the calendar, so she would know to expect it. And when I would get her set up in there, I would take about five or 10 minutes to make sure she had things to keep her busy — worth it to take the time to do that so it was a space that was hers. I never really had an issue with her not wanting to go and I never had to abort a running mission. It can definitely be an adventure. One time she had crayons in there and drew me a picture, but it came out all crazy because of all the bumping around in the jogger. It was pretty funny. It’s good to have a place to stop too, like a park or somewhere she wants to go.
Did your wife use the jogger?
Most of the time I would push it, but we used it as an opportunity to run together. We used to do yoga dates, rock-climbing dates, so now we had a new tradition. This gave us a chance to talk. While Mel was training for her half-marathon, we would run together with the jogger. It was great.
Any safety tips you want to share?
Just try to keep to streets that aren’t too busy. Even if you have to drive somewhere first to get there. Avoid rush hour traffic. Use reflective gear if it’s dark. You can even just wrap a reflective vest right around the weather shield on the jogger. I have been treated the best by drivers when I have been using the jogger. Just watch out for occasional crazy drivers.
So Alice, tell me, what do you like best about running with your Dad?
(In the cutest, barely audible 4-year-old voice) Just running with him. Because I love getting rides and I love running.