Whether you're a first-time mom or have a full-blown brood at home, you cherish your jogging stroller. Not only does it let you get in a sweat any time of day with your kids, it's basically a sanity saver on wheels. You're out of the house, the kids are stimulated by something other than an iPad, and you're even getting a bit of vitamin D (sunlight, gasp!) while you release some much-needed endorphins.
Just make sure you're striding safe while you work out. A new study recently published in Academic Pediatrics found that an estimated 360,937 of kids under the age of five were sent to the ER because of a stroller or baby carrier-related injury between 1990 and 2010. That breaks down to over 17,000 injuries annually. Of the stroller-specific injuries, the majority were boys less than a year old with head and face injuries—diagnosed from soft tissue injuries to some scarier outcomes like brain injuries and concussions.
Don't let these stats dissuade you from getting out and about with your kids, though. Overall, the study showed that stroller and carrier injuries are down, most likely due to consumers being more educated about the products they are using. Brush up on your stroller safety with these tips from Melissa Gambrill, marketing manager for BOB Gear by Britax to keep everyone safe when using your jogging stroller.
Wait until your child is at least 8 months old before you start jogging with them. Keep your exercise to walking with an infant car seat and/or insert (like the Summer Infant Snuzzler, which fits in a car seat and a stroller) from 0 to 8 weeks old. From 8 weeks to about 8 months, take your time transitioning to stroller walking without an infant seat once your child has stable head control. Most strollers have an option to recline the seat all the way back so that you can walk with your baby mostly horizontal (similar to a car seat), and gradually raise the back as their head and neck muscles get stronger. If your child seems to have strong head control before 8 months and you're anxious to start jogging, consult with your pediatrician first, who will be able to tell you if it's safe or not after an exam.
Put the seat up when you jog. Once your little one is ready for the road, make sure the seat is fully upright—even if you're hoping they nap while you run. Keeping the seat reclined could cause you to hit the back of it with your knees and make the stroller less stable when jogging.
Lock the front wheel. Most jogging strollers are three wheels with a front wheel you can either lock into a fixed position or unlock, which makes it swivel as you move and is more ideal for walking. When jogging, lock the front wheel in place to keep the stroller from veering off in an unexpected direction if it hits a pebble or ditch in the road. If you have the budget to buy a stroller for jogging purposes only, some models come with a fixed locked wheel, so you won't have to remember this extra step before you head out.
Always use your stroller's five-point harness. This helps keep your child steady and centered (especially if they can't sit up unsupported yet), and can be adjusted with them as they grow.
Use the parking brake when stationary. Want to stop mid-jog for some burpees and lunges? Jogging strollers are very seamless riders, and you'll be surprised that just a small breeze can cause it to drift if you're not paying attention. So no matter what you're doing, make sure to put the brake on first.
Don't hang bags or heavy gear on the handlebars. The study in Academic Pediatrics found that a major source of stroller injuries were caused from product tip-overs, which can happen if there is too much weight bearing down on the back of the stroller. This is even more true if your child is under a year old and much lighter. Wear a hydration belt to keep your water with you and leave the diaper bag at home. (If the diaper situation is so dire that you need to do a mid-run change, you'll probably want to be heading home anyway!)
Ready to hit the road? Here are some tried-and-true jogging strollers fit moms love: