Sue Hubbard, M.D.

Don't Start Too Early, and Take it Easy

I get a lot of questions from new parents who are runners about the use of jogging strollers. When researching the issue in the pediatric literature, I couldn't find a consensus about when it's safe and appropriate to use such a stroller with a newborn.

Intuitively, using a jogging stroller to walk or run with your newborn seems safe if you're covering the same terrain you would with a regular stroller, i.e., not climbing Mount Everest or running down the side of a mountain, over rugged terrain or across gaping potholes! All of these activities would also seem detrimental to the mother during the post-partum period, and despite being an avid jogger, it's important that a new mother not overexert herself.

Most OB's recommend that a post-partum mom limit her physical activity for the first four to six weeks after birth, and I agree. It may be important for a new mother's sanity to get some light exercise, like a walk around the block, but not a 5-mile jog until she's been given the go ahead by her doctor.

If you push yourself too quickly, it takes a toll both on your breast milk production and overall energy level.

Use the first few weeks after having a baby to lounge around in your nightgown, take catnaps and enjoy just staring at your newborn. It's really the only time you'll get that opportunity.

When you are ready to use a jogging stroller, the most important issue is to make sure your infant's neck is supported while he/she is in the stroller. Manufacturers of many of the most popular baby joggers have come out with a car seat apparatus that fits into the jogger, for use with younger babies. This device has head and neck support with cushioning, and may be used until your baby develops more neck support at around 4 months old.

I've had many parents of infants start taking their babies on walks/runs when the children are around 4- to 6 weeks old, gradually increasing the length of the exercise period, and the babies seem quite happy snuggled in the joggers. Some parents say this is their baby's best sleep, and they can always be assured that their infant will calm down once they get moving. (This is certainly much more economical than driving your baby around in the car -- another calming maneuver.)

The only other issue is weather-related. Make sure your infant is well hydrated in the summer, wears a hat and sunscreen, and is also shaded with an awning. Sun can penetrate a stroller awning, so don't assume your baby is not getting sun exposure. If bugs are a problem, add mosquito netting. The rule of thumb is, if you're hot (or cold), so is your baby, so dress your passenger appropriately.

Dr. Sue Hubbard is a nationally known pediatrician and co-host of "The Kid's Doctor" radio show.


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Health - Babies and Jogging Strollers