Want to shift some pounds, boost your mood or simply get some fresh air with your baby? Getting outdoors for a run with your little one is an easy way to get active.
But before you start, it’s important you take certain steps to ensure you have the right kit and know how to run safely. Read on to discover our tips.
If you've recently given birth, don’t do any form of exercise until you’ve had the OK from your GP. Your body takes time to recover after having a baby, and it’s important you don’t push yourself too soon.
Normally, this would be six weeks after birth if you’ve had a standard delivery and 12 weeks if you’ve had a C-section, but the most important factor is when you’re ready.
If you want to run with your baby, the general advice is that you should wait until they’re at least six months old, but we’d suggest waiting until around eight or nine months to be safe.
This is because your baby’s neck muscles need to develop until they’re strong enough to sit up in a pushchair, and be able to handle the speed and slightly rougher ride they may experience while you’re running.
Don't run with your baby in the pushchair carrycot, or with the child car seat attached as a travel system. You should avoid carrycots because they're almost always only suitable up to the age of six months, so your baby is still too young.
Meanwhile, car seats aren’t suitable because they usually hold your baby quite high on the chassis, which can change the pushchair's centre of gravity. In fact, the British standard for pushchairs requires manufacturers to include a warning stating that you shouldn't run or jog with an infant in a car seat or carrycot.
You may be working up a sweat but your child will be sitting still, so be sure to dress them in layers. Standard guidance when not exercising is that your baby should wear one more clothing layer than you would if you were out walking as normal. Don’t forget a blanket or footmuff and a rain cover if the weather turns.
If your pushchair can recline back, make sure that it’s set in an upright position when you start running. This is the safest position for your toddler and the most stable position for the buggy when you’re pushing it.
Pushchairs designed for running will often have these features, and may be marketed as ‘all terrain’, so look out for them.
If you spot these features on a standard pushchair, it means it could also be a good option if you do a lot of walking with your pushchair.
Being outside can have real benefits for your mental health, so if you’re looking for a way to boost your mood, then lacing up your trainers and heading out with your baby in their buggy is a good place to start.
However, the added benefit of running (or power walking) with your child is that you’re killing two birds with one stone. You’re getting your child out for some fresh air and you’re doing something for yourself. You could sandwich a playground session with a run around the park before and after. No more worrying about leaving your child in the gym crèche while you do a gym workout, or leaving your partner to manage alone if you’ve got more than one child.
Plus, an added bonus of going for a run with your little one is that you don’t have to carry your keys, wallet or phone stuffed into your pockets. You can just pop them into the buggy's basket while you exercise.
If you’ve ever tried to get your child to sleep by putting them into a car seat and going for a 20-minute drive, hoping the gentle rocking and hum of the engine will send them off, then you may get the same effects while running with your child. It could be useful if your toddler has suddenly decided that they want to give up daytime naps.
While the occasional dash to catch a bus while you’re pushing your pushchair should be fine, we don’t recommend using a standard pushchair or stroller for regular running.
Running and all-terrain exercise buggies are properly designed so that they’re easier to run with (as mentioned in the key features earlier in this article).
If you don’t want to fork out for a proper running buggy, you can still exercise with a regular one, but switch to a brisk power walk (where you’re walking at a speed that makes it difficult to hold a conversation). This can be just as effective as running, but it’s easier to control your speed.
Plus, you can still use a standard buggy as a balance bar to hold on to while doing squats, lunges or stretches. Just make sure it has a strong brake that holds well.