How to Run with a baby
If you were a runner before having a baby, you probably remember the bliss of heading outside for a light jog or an intense training run.
Running after baby is... different... It requires some patience and a lot more planning, but it can be extremely fun and rewarding with your new running buddy. I’m going to cover everything from planning out your route and what to pack beforehand, so you don’t feel stressed as you head out of the door.
Here's 5 Things to do before you head out for a run to make the journey a lot smoother, including what to pack:
1. Pick out a route that is feeding-friendly
Find a route with shade that is safe, has areas to sit, and has other people around. You can find routes on many different running sites (I recommend "Map My Run" to my clients) and try out different trails at different times of the day to find the best for peak sun/ foot traffic/ air quality, etc.
Find a route that has some goal markers like a bench or playground that you can sit at and feed safely and comfortably. (I recommend my clients start doing this in pregnancy so they are prepared for bringing their babies out once they are ready to start walking postpartum.)
Playgrounds make great feeding spots as there are usually benches and you can scope out for new mom friends. Libraries also have benches and bathrooms, so I personally love to include them in a run route when I’m downtown.
2. Check the weather for the week and identify more than one time that will be best for an outdoor adventure.
Let’s be real, babies are absolute chaos monsters. There might be a meltdown or a diaper explosion at the optimal time of day for your run, so I like to identify at least two times to get out during the day, just in case there is a conflict.
Remember, baby will need at least one extra layer than you for colder days, and I highly recommend a spare outfit and a blanket anyway. When we were in Denver I got a cute little fan to clip on to Finn’s stroller when it was very, and I’d often splash his cover with a little water to keep him from overheating on days.
Side note- if you are running in a city or during commuting times, it is important to check the air quality index (AQI) before you head out. Most weather apps will include an AQI note and you can google your air trends for your local area, but generally avoiding areas of high traffic is a good idea for all of your lung health.
3. Find a route that supports your goals
If you are within 6 months of postpartum I recommend finding a hillier spot. This will help recruit more muscles and get more results from walking than a flat surface. If you are going for speed, find an area with a lot of light posts, benches, or other mile markers so you can practice sprinting and interval training. You get a gold star if you can find spots for both so you can mix up your training and get the benefits from both.
4. Remember the guidelines.
Babies are not ready for running in the stroller until they are 6 months old or are strong enough to hold their head up. (I didn’t hear of this until I was shopping for my jogger stroller, and I don’t think this is common knowledge, either.) Jogging and running will jostle them around, so make sure they are safely seated, and strapped in. This is different for the car seat attachment, so make sure you have one if you plan to head out sooner than your baby is ready for the jogger. I had a graco that came with the car seat attachment and my first was in that for quite a while because it was easier to lug everything around. (Side note- For cycling - your kid needs to be at least one year and in a helmet to ride in the trailer.)
What to pack:
Toys that can clip on to the stroller (yes, use the carabiners, elastic bands, mitten clips, all of that. Kiddos tend to toss and the last thing you want is to spend your run chasing down their favorite lovie)
Snacks for both of you - I love a granola bar for nursing on a run, and keep non perishables so they don’t get lost in a stroller bag. For kids, if they’re going to be facing away from you, make sure it’s nothing they can choke on. Pouches, puffs, etc only.
Water for them and you, and always pack a little more than what you may need or plan a route with a water station.
Lots of sunscreen or a blanket if they're too little (6 months and under)
Spare everything - clothes, wipes, diapers, a couple extra toys/ pacis for when they pitch their favorite pacifier out of the stroller into a puddle. You might want an extra layer for you depending on how far away you are.
Shades - for you and baby
I know all of this may seem extremely overwhelming at first. Trust me, I’ve done it. Keeping a go-bag with spare clothes, snacks, sunscreen, toys, etc for *just* the stroller will save you time and sanity. Once you get used to running the same path, seeing the same people, expecting the same mile marker, things will get easier. Newborns and toddlers are like little wild cards, there will always be something, but I learned to accept the chaos as bonding time, and both of us were just grateful to get out of the house and breathing in the fresh air and sunshine.
For more information on postpartum fitness and a Physical Therapist-approved Return-to-Run Program, click here to get a copy of my book. The book covers everything from exercise and breastfeeding to a year of workouts you can do with your kiddo.
When you've completed your run, try out this simple stretching routine. I made one that's safe for pregnancy and postpartum, and is completely free for you to try.
For more information on prenatal and postpartum fitness, please visit my Resources page .
Got any tips you'd like to share that I didn't cover here? Please share them below in the comments !