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Keeping baby occupied on the run

keeping-baby-occupied-in-jogging-strollerIf you log miles with a jogging stroller, I’m sure you know that the most difficult part isn’t always pushing all that heavy weight. (Well, that’s certainly hard to do, especially as that 15-pounder grows into a 30-pounder seemingly overnight.) No, the real challenge is keeping your little one occupied for the long run. And “long” with regard to stroller running is a relative term, since even a quick 3 miles can prove frustrating for parent and baby alike.

Yet, it’s important — even after the most passionate of stroller strikes — to keep at it. There were times when I cursed the stroller and thought we’d never make it work. Now? Things are better. Running with the stroller is the only way I can get in my workouts on a particularly busy day.

True. We’ve had our struggles, but now that my daughter Ada is a bit older, I feel like we’ve discovered a few ways to make the activity pleasurable and productive for both of us.

Here are a few tips:

  • Before you head out, make sure your baby is snug, secure, and comfortable. For example, just because you’re working up at sweat in 50-degree weather doesn’t mean your baby will be as warm. When in doubt, bring an extra layer and check in after the first half mile or so. As well, when Ada was smaller, I liked snugging her in with a couple rolled blankets at her sides so she didn’t move around on sidewalk bumps quite as much.
  • Use nap times to your advantage. This tip doesn’t work with all kids (it didn’t work for us), but several of my friends swear by nap-time running. It works especially well when baby is still taking 2 to 3 naps a day of around 45 minutes to an hour. Just keep moving the entire time. Enjoy the quiet while it lasts.
  • Strike up a conversation. Or sing a song. Keep older toddlers engaged by pointing out puppies and trees, trucks and people — whatever you see out on the run of interest. Even a quick song like the ABCs can turn a frown upside down. I’m sure being down in the stroller can be isolating, so showing baby that mommy/daddy is paying attention can help out.
  • Invest in a few special toys. Not just any toys, mind you — but ones that can clip, tether, or otherwise attach to the stroller. When in doubt, secure with extra links or ties. This will eliminate abrupt stops, tripping (it’s happened to me — on a stuffed dog!), and lost items. Ada’s favorite is this Activity Caterpillar — we only let her play with it while she’s in the stroller, too.
  • Try different paths. There’s this great rails-to-trails park near where we live, but it’s a straight out and back. For whatever reason, Ada hates running there — maybe for lack of turns. But she loves the park near the river and the sidewalks near our home. It took experimentation, but for whatever reason, location makes a difference in some instances.
  • If nothing seems to work, take a break for a few days and try again. Keep trying. There were periods of time when our daughter just wouldn’t tolerate the stroller even for a few minutes. The stage eventually passed and now (fingers-crossed) we’ve had a consistent half year of great workouts with her.

In addition to these tips, make sure your stroller’s front wheel is locked (to eliminate the chance of tipping) and consider bringing a water bottle along — not just for you, but also for your child to guzzle. And we’d love to hear if you have any tricks to share.

How do you keep baby occupied/happy on the run?

Written by  Ashley Marcin.

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