Running with a baby has its own set of challenges and considerations you need to have in mind, but it is very doable… your runs may just look a little different to your pre-baby runs, and that’s ok.
These tips will help you make them happen so that you, and your baby, can enjoy your run together.
In this post I cover:
- Getting the all-clear from your baby’s pediatrician
- What’s special about a jogging stroller
- How to plan your stroller-friendly running route
- How to get timing right when running with your baby
- What gear to bring with you on your run
- Tips for flexing your run training plan
- Alternative at-home workouts for when you can’t run outdoors.
If you’re a new parent who, like me, loves running and values it highly among the things you do for yourself for fitness, mental health and sheer enjoyment, then you’ve probably been longing for the day when you can run again post-baby.
This is something I’ve had to navigate after giving birth to our son, Sebastian.
Gone are the days of just choosing a good moment when you feel like running, and heading out the door by yourself for an hour or two. However, my husband, Alastair and I can still get out for some really enjoyable runs with our baby along for the ride, and so can you!
1. Check with your baby’s pediatrician
In this post I’m assuming that if you’re the birthing parent then you’ve not only had the all clear from your own doctor (and if applicable, a pelvic floor health specialist) to go running postpartum but that you actually FEEL ready to run.
If not then it’s best to hold off running until you’re ready, running can wait a little longer.
Ok so first off, to be able to start running with your baby with you, then it’s essential that you ensure they’re ready to ride in a jogging stroller.
To sit in the stroller the main consideration is that they need to be able to hold their own head up and have good head control.
This is why popular stroller brands such as Thule indicate your child must be at least 6 months old to ride in them… but Thule isn’t your baby’s doctor, so you do need to check with a professional first!
Having the necessary head and neck strength to do so is a developmental milestone their pediatrician should sign off on – and can vary between 4 and 8 months of age.
The doctor can also advise on any other considerations or particular needs your baby has before they clear them to come with you for the ride.
2. What’s special about a jogging stroller
Good jogging strollers have some key features that make them suitable for running with, that regular everyday strollers do not.
Those features are focused on enabling safe jogging, including the ability lock the front wheel straight (so it doesn’t swivel while running), more robust tires, suspension, a wrist strap and a hand brake.
Popular jogging stroller brands to check out include Thule (such as the Thule Urban Glide 2 I’m using in the photos in this post) and BOB Gear. Visit our jogging strollers buyer’s guide for more tips and recommendations.
You may be wondering how you can run with a newborn under 6 months old – I know I was.
Some jogging stroller brands sell adaptors so you can attach an infant carseat to them.
The purpose of this is so you can use the stroller for walking with a newborn. It does make the stroller a little top-heavy, so it’s not a recommended running setup, presumably because it’s not as stable, especially on hills and uneven ground.
I felt good about doing some gentle runs with this setup on the straight, smooth, flat, traffic-free cycle paths near our home, even though that is not what the manufacturer recommends. After all, my early postpartum jogging pace wasn’t much faster than a brisk walk!
Seb was as comfortable on these as he is when walking or riding in the car, and I got to get some fresh air, elevate my heart rate and clear my head with some light jogging.
Parenting is a lot about exercising personal judgement and common sense, and balancing the merits of your choices, and I was comfortable with this one given how fortunate we are to have those ideal smooth and flat traffic-free paths to run on.
You need to make your own judgement call around whether doing something similar is safe for you and your baby.
Until your baby is ready to ride in a jogging stroller, my top tips are:
- Take your baby on plenty of brisk walks with the stroller or in a baby carrier
- Keep working on their head and neck control (lots of ‘tummy time’) so they can safely sit in the stroller seat itself when they’re ready
- Lean on a family member or friend to provide some childcare while you get a 30 minute run in, alone!
- If you’re the one who gave birth, focus on your own postpartum strength building, which may include one of the ‘alternative workouts’ I suggest later in this post.
3. How to plan your stroller-friendly running route
As I already mentioned above, if you’re going to run with a stroller, it’s important to do so in a suitable location.
Your ideal stroller jogging route is probably going to be different from the running routes you choose when you don’t your baby with you (I know I head straight for those hilly trails when I have the opportunity to run alone!).
This likely means you need to research some new areas to run and plan your route in advance.
Here are three considerations for planning your running route assuming you’ll be pushing a jogging stroller:
- Terrain: look for smooth, paved pavements, with minimal hills
- Traffic: Avoid motorized traffic and road crossings if possible
- Distance: plan to start with shorter routes that will take no more than 15-20 minutes
I will often run the same route repeatedly back and forth, in preference over crossing a road or heading too far away from home or my car.
To give yourself flexibility, consider routes that go in a loop you can repeat, or out-and-back paths you can repeat to make longer if needed.
Having a shorter, repeatable running route is great when you run with a jogging stroller because if you need to finish your run earlier than expected then you’ll be relatively close to your home or where your car’s parked, if you have to drive somewhere to go run.
4. How to get the timing right when running with your baby
As a parent you probably already appreciate that choosing your moments wisely and seizing opportunities when they are presented to you are important!
Timing around baby’s needs
Here are some helpful timing-related tips for running with baby that will help you get out the door for a successful run:
- Consider jogging with your baby at nap time. If your baby sleeps in the stroller they may nap for the duration of your run.
- Coordinate with your baby’s feeding schedules. Plan your runs either right after breastfeeding or pumping (if either applies) to ensure that both you and your baby are comfortable while you’re running.
- Keep an eye on the weather and dress your baby appropriately. If it’s too hot, cold or wet out there then you may need to consider an alternative workout to avoid making your baby uncomfortable or putting them at risk of extreme heat or cold exposure. Maybe try running on a treadmill instead.
Timing runs around your own needs
When considering my baby’s needs, that can mean that the ‘best’ time to run with him is not the best time for me in terms of the time of day, temperature outside, or timing compared to when I last ate.
When planning around my baby’s sleep and feeding schedule, I try to ensure I’m eating at least something small like an oat bar or banana around an hour or so before I plan to get out the door. This way I can ensure I’m not overly hungry when running.
To learn more about the best foods to fuel your body as a new mom when you resume running, read my guide to nutrition for running moms.
To make my day more efficient, I also plan my daily shower for after my run, where possible, so I don’t end up having two showers a day.
5. What gear to bring with you on your run
Before heading out, ensure you’ve got all your running essentials ready.
Pushing a jogging stroller is harder, thirstier work than running on your own, so bring plenty of water to ensure you’re staying hydrated. You don’t even have to carry it – so that’s a win right there!
Take some essentials for your baby to ensure they have their usual items you take on a regular stroller outing, including a sun or rain cover, appropriate clothing, a burp cloth, pacifier and any toys you may feel necessary.
Because you have the stroller with you, you may as well take everything you need, it can be stored in the stroller and you don’t have to carry a diaper bag!
Personally I don’t take other items such as diaper changing stuff or a change of baby clothes.
If we were to have a big poop event during a run it can wait until I get back home or to the car, where those essentials are stashed, because my jogging stroller runs are never particularly long and are usually close to home. But you could do, if you wanted to, there are no rules, just whatever works best for you 🙂
6. Tips for flexing your run training plan
As new parents we quickly learn that some degree of adaptability, compassion, grace and acceptance are all qualities we need to embrace and demonstrate from time to time, in order to get through moments, days, and weeks now our life looks a little different to pre-baby.
If you like to follow running training schedules, this can require some adjustments in expectations around what you’ll achieve when you’re bringing your baby in a jogging stroller along for the ride.
These adjustments in expectations include:
- your run will be slower and harder because you’re pushing extra weight.
- route limitations.
- having to prioritize fitting around baby’s feeding and sleeping schedule rather than the ideal time of day for you to run.
- needing to stop or end your run to tend to your baby’s needs – for example, I stop every few minutes to check on Seb during our runs together.
So you won’t be hitting any time PRs on these runs but you will be running, and hopefully both you and your baby enjoy the experience and your time together.
7. Alternative at-home workouts for when you can’t run outdoors
Some days, getting outside for a run with your baby is (or at least, seems) too much like hard work.
Whether that’s because the weather’s bad or your baby is particularly fussy, there are alternative ways to get some of those exercise-induced endorphins, without leaving the house.
My three favorite types of workout to do in the house with my baby close by are:
- Treadmill running – these are some of the best treadmill workouts for runners
- A Peloton bike workout (HIIT and hills, or hill climb workouts will give you an intense 20-30 minute workout!)
- An at-home strength workout, which can either be a Peloton workout (they offer loads, including postpartum-specific classes) or a simple yoga workout, which I either do from memory (I have a few go-to favs I like to do often), my yoga for runners roundup, or a guided Peloton yoga class.
Generally I find that if he has eaten recently then my baby is happy to watch me do any of these things, or entertain himself with his toys.
Sometimes I can time these at-home workouts with nap-time for an uninterrupted sweat session!
So there you have it, being an active mom or dad and enjoying your runs with your baby is a reality you can totally achieve, with some preparation and adaptability. For more postpartum running advice and inspiration visit our Running Postpartum page next.
If you’re a parent who also enjoys running with your baby or young children, we’d love to hear from you; do you have any experiences or additional tips to share with us? Share them in the comments below.