Having a baby changes your life, but that doesn’t mean you stop doing the things you love – nor should you! Whether you crave long runs or hitting biking trails, you don’t have to choose between staying active or time with your little one. Janna Day, pediatric injury prevention coordinator at UnityPoint Health, details the best baby products for active parents, including what to know about running strollers and bike attachments, along with other tips to keep your family moving.
How to Run with a Running Stroller
If you’d like to run with your child, you’ll want to invest in a jogging stroller. A traditional stroller isn’t safe for running with a baby, as it lacks the necessary design features to reduce shocks a baby could feel while traveling over uneven surfaces.
“Most experts agree babies should be several months old before riding in a running stroller,” Day says. “I’d recommend waiting until your child is at least 8 months old with very stable head control before taking him/her out for a run.”
She outlines the key features you’ll want to make sure your running stroller includes:
- Large, air-filled rubber tires that roll over bumps easily
- Effective suspension systems that absorb motion and reduce jarring
- Locking or fixed front wheel to prevent unwanted wobbling or vibrations
- Long distance between wheels, allowing the front wheel to bounce over a bump in the road, reducing the stress transferred to the baby’s body
“When your child is ready to head out with you, always follow the stroller manufacturer’s guidelines for safety. Utilize the 5-point harness system, apply the brake when stopped and resist hanging extra bags or gear on the handlebars. If your stroller has a safety tether, use it. The tether attaches to the stroller and then around your wrist to prevent the stroller from accidentally rolling away,” Day says.
If you’re not planning to run with your child, use a traditional stroller for errands or recreational walking instead, Day offers this advice when selecting your product.
“Be sure your stroller can accommodate your baby’s height and weight. In general, a newborn will need a stroller that offers a significant recline. And again, always use the stroller’s harness system to secure your child, even if you’re only going a short distance,” Day says.
Bike Attachments for Baby & Toddler
Bike trailers are quite popular with biking parents, and what’s not to love? You can pedal your pace while your child is enclosed behind you. But, Day says your little one needs a helmet before climbing inside.
“Even though your baby is inside the bike trailer, it’s so important he/she wears a well-fitting helmet. In the event of a crash, your baby’s head needs to be protected, much like a car seat protects a baby inside a car,” Day says.
Since bike helmets are designed for children ages 1 and older, Day recommends waiting until that time to take your baby out for a ride. She also has these tips when looking at which bike attachment to get:
- Ideally, the product you choose should pass ASTM Safety Standards
- Check your baby or toddler will fit appropriately with the attachment’s age, height and weight requirements
- Review the manufacturer instructions and guidelines, including how the attachment connects to your bike
Baby Carriers & Wraps
Baby carriers can be wonderful assets to have, as they allow you to carry your baby while keeping your hands free. While Day says they’re warm, comfortable, baby-friendly and undeniably convenient, she lists some things to keep in mind when purchasing and using them:
- Purchase a carrier from a trusted manufacturer. Be sure the carrier or wrap you choose meets all current United States safety, testing and labeling standards. If you’re getting your carrier secondhand, examine your carrier for wear and damage, weak spots and loose stitching before using.
- Consider your comfort, too. Try several carriers or wraps on before you buy. Consider seeking out community resources, like a local chapter of Babywearing International, to help guide your decision.
- Remember, it’s not designed for sleep. A carrier shouldn’t be used for routine sleep. If your baby does fall asleep while being carried, check often to be sure his/her head and neck are straight and the face is uncovered. The best way to do this is by keeping him/her in an upright position, high enough on your body for you to monitor breathing and see that baby’s chin if off his/her chest. Better yet, if possible, transfer baby to a safe bassinet or crib for a nap.
- Don’t use in a moving vehicle or boat. Carriers aren’t approved as child restraints or floatation devices. A good rule is to avoid baby-wearing in situations where it wouldn’t be safe to carry an infant in your arms.
Other Tips for Active Parents
Getting fresh air can be helpful for a new baby as well as new parents. In your excitement to head outdoors, Day lists some tips to keep in mind for your little one’s added safety:
- Dress for the elements. Young babies have a more difficult time regulating their body temperature than older children and adults. Generally speaking, consider dressing your baby in the same type of clothing you’re comfortable in. If you’re hot, chances are your baby is, too. Same with colder temperatures. If it’s too uncomfortable for you to be outside, it’s probably best to skip outdoor plans for the day.
- Avoid direct sun exposure. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping baby in light layers, staying in the shade when possible and limiting sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. For babies under 6 months old, it’s a good idea to have your baby wear a hat to help keep the sun off his/her face and neck. If necessary, a small amount of sunscreen of at least 15 SPF can be applied to baby’s gentle skin, like the hands and feet. Once older than 6 months, babies and toddlers can wear sunscreen like adults.
“If you and your baby feel up to it and are in good health, even a simple stroll around the block may help boost your energy and mood and provide a change of scenery for both of you. If you have any questions about whether gear or certain baby products are safe, talk with your child’s provider or pediatrician,” Day says.