When we left the hospital after our first daughter was born, we drove about 10mph under the speed limit and I think I checked on her approximately every 30 seconds. That may have been somewhat excessive for the situation, but I did reflect on that when I started going out running with her! When buggy running your precious bundle needs to be safe, and you need peace of mind. Here is your all-important safety checklist to cover before you get out and about.
Your child should be over 6 months old
Your little one needs to have good head control before run with them. You wouldn’t let his/her head flop around if you were holding them, so don’t do it in a buggy. The industry standard is 6 months of age for when you can start running with them, though some manufacturers suggest later (or to check with a GP if buggy running sooner) – for instance 9 months for the Bugaboo Runner or 12 months for the Baby Jogger Summit. Ask your GP if you are concerned or want more advice on your baby’s spine and neck development.
When we first started out and my daughter was little, we used this infant support too as we already had it. Also, in theory the flatter they are in the buggy, the less stress there should be on their neck (though be careful this doesn’t make you bump the back of the seat with your legs whilst running).
Have the right type of buggy
Bought new or second hand, your running buggy should have a lockable front wheel, rear suspension, and larger inflatable wheels. These are important safety and comfort features. You may want to research the various models and other features available, such as hand brake, wrist strap, wider rear wheels to allow for your stride. You can find out more about models online, facebook groups such as Running with Buggies or see runningbuggies.com for more information. I got our running buggy on eBay, a bright purple Out n About Nipper V4.
Lock the front wheel
Lock the front wheel for stability when travelling at speed. This will stop it from veering off unexpectedly into the road/pulling you over if you hit an object like a rock, branch or pothole. A fixed wheel is harder to steer, but you’ll get the hang of it, and just think of the extra strength you are building in your abdominals and arms!
Some models have a fixed locked wheel, so this is not an issue. Others come with a lockable front wheel which means you can have it unlocked for more maneuverability in day to day usage.
Use the brake when stopped
Running buggies are more likely to roll or drift, so make sure you put the brake on when you stop, even for a sip of water.
Don’t have things hanging from the handlebar
You want the buggy as light as possible for running with anyway, so don’t risk the buggy tipping by unbalancing it with too much weight bearing down the back of it. Instead, I put water and a spare nappy in the basket, and have a caddy that holds her snack and a couple of toys. You can also use a running belt if you need to hold things you need for your run.
Maintain your buggy
Make sure your buggy stays in good condition – store it indoors and wipe it clean of dirt and debris after each run. Pump up the tyres if needed, which will help with the smoothness of the ride for your little one. Have a look over your buggy before you head out on your run and make sure everything is in working order. Register it after purchase (if appropriate) which means you should be updated with safety alerts or recalls.
What is the weather like? Dress your baby according to the weather, and use sun screen if it’s hot but try to make sure the sun is not on her. Use the canopy or rain cover as appropriate; I use the rain cover when it is very windy even with no rain. Check on her periodically to make sure she is ok – older children will probably tell you if something is up. Check her temperature on the back of her neck to make sure she is not too hot or too cold.
Be aware and cautious
When I’m running with my little one, I just don’t take risks – for example, I wait longer to make sure there is ample crossing time on busy streets whereas on my own I might not. I run without music, or quietly with just one headphone in so I can hear her and everything around me all the time. Use your buggy’s safety features. Using the five point harness (and set to the right tightness), your child should remain centred and steady. Use the wrist strap if there is one, or you can buy a strap, in case you trip and let go. Be present and in control of your buggy.
Buggy running is fantastic and great exercise – just being mindful of these things and being well-prepared can make it a confident, comfortable and safe experience for everyone.