The Running Mama Series: Jogging Stroller Safety Tips
I don’t know about you, but my jogging stroller is magical (on most occasions) to help me get my littles to nap and/or me to get some of my own time to just get in my fitness. When my daughter was a baby, she was very colic and screamed relentlessly multiple hours a day no matter how much I tried feeding her, changing her, rocking her, etc. My go to, if it was during the day and the weather was nice outside was to sit her in the jogging stroller and we would walk or run for miles. It was my saving grace. I would put in my ear buds or play some fun kid friendly music on the speaker and away we went. Most times she fell asleep and not only was I able to get some rest from the screaming that sounded like alarm bells to me in my head, but both of us were able to get some fresh air. For myself, I was able to escape the chaos and get some good exercise induced endorphins flowing through my veins. After having 3 babies now and hundreds of miles logged together with them in tow, I have learned quite a few things about stroller safety!
ALWAYS buckle in your child. No matter what age, but as long as they are able to safely fit into the harness straps, please buckle in your child. I am raising the white flag here because I am totally guilty of not strapping my 4 year old in as much anymore. But strapping them in is recommended by the manufacturer and it's not necessarily so they don’t climb out. This warning is given in case you run into something, hit a curb, hole, branch, or any debris in your path. Another reason is incase something runs into you and the stroller falls over or flips! Just like a car seat, you do not want the babies to go flying out of the stroller. The structure of most jogging strollers are designed to protect or lessen the blow of injuries, especially to the head, as long as they are properly strapped in.
If you have a little Houdini, Zip-Ties will be your best friend. If you have a toddler Houdini who has figured out how to unbuckle him or herself from the stroller in order to climb out and about, try using zip ties. You can zip tie them right down over the buckle to avoid a choking hazard and those Houdini's are not able to get the buckle loose. And if they do manage to get the buckle un done, the harness will still be tight enough from the zip ties that your little one cannot escape! **REMINDER: Don’t forget to bring scissors or nail clippers to be able to get them undone at any point in case of an emergency or the need to get them out.
Your infant must have proper head control before running (or even walking) without using the infant car seat and proper car seat-stroller adapter. Most jogging stroller manufactures recommend that you wait until the infant is 6 months before transitioning from the car seat and proper adapter to the actual stroller seat. All three of my kiddos had great head control by 5 months, so with the clearance from my pediatrician I was able to move them a little bit early from the car seat attachment to the regular stroller seat while walking only. I did continue using the car seat and adapter as I ran until each of them reached 6 months while using a double jogging stroller. The jostling of the jogging stroller as you run can injure their little head, neck, and back without you even realizing it. Make sure you reach out to your pediatrician to get the clearance before transitioning them to the big kid stroller seat and straps.
Do NOT run with your single jogging stroller with infant car seat attachment. Having the infant car seat attachment is amazing especially for when they are so little, but PLEASE stick to just walking. Most manufacturers recommend no running until the baby has great neck and head control or the baby's neck can be supported either in a car seat or laying back as flat as possible in the stroller, however when attaching the car seat adapter to a SINGLE jogging stroller, the stroller then becomes very top heavy. Therefore the ease and likelihood of the stroller tipping over is high and dangerous for your baby. With a double jogging stroller and a car seat adapter this is a different story however because on a double, the base of the stroller is much wider and supportive, so this would be your call and of course make sure to check with your manufacturers recommendations.
Pump up your tires. What I always seem to forget to do lot is to pump up my tires! Running with low pressure in your jogging stroller tires can actually make you feel like you are pushing an elephant. There are some great handheld pumps on the market that you can just stick in your stroller pockets to pump up those tires if you remember from the start or even on the go!
Lock those wheels. If you’re running and you have a swivel wheel jogging stroller, make sure it is locked in the non-swivel position before taking off. Not only is this recommended by the manufacturer, but the faster the wheel spins, the less stable it will be and could result in a stroller crash or a very annoying bumpy ride. In addition, if you keep the setting on swivel mode while running you can damage the wheel casing overtime leading to the actual ball bearings falling out and requiring replacement of the part. In addition to the swivel wheel lock, be mindful of the stroller brake. If you happen to stop at an intersection or at any time in your journey make sure to lock your wheel stroller in brake mode! Sometimes our mom brains are on autopilot and we forget to do the little things, and then we may randomly let go of that handle bar for something as little as to sneeze and the stroller may roll right into traffic. It may seem like such a little thing, but as I have learned especially after having kids, you never know what could happen. Better safe than sorry!
STROLLER CHECK! If you are like many busy moms, your brain is spinning of all the things as you leave the house for a workout or long walk/run. "Do I have enough diapers? Did I remember wipes? Did I pack enough snacks to last? Did I remember some H20 for myself AND for the kids?" Try and make it a habit to do a quick stroller check before taking off and you can hit a few of the safety tips mentioned above! It will ensure that you and your kiddos have a FUN, but SAFE adventure together!
I hope you enjoy these safety tricks and tips for when you're out and about on the road or jogging trails getting in your fitness with your little ones!