Baby on Board: Jogging Strollers
by Tracy Teare
Jogging strollers—those funky three-wheelers you see whizzing about with baby on board—are practically standard issue for moms and dads who want to stay active.
“I couldn't always get to the gym, but I was always able to get exercise with our Baby Jogger,” says Victoria, a mother of two who lives in Ipswich, Massachusetts with her husband and daughters. She jogs with the stroller on weekdays and takes it to the beach or to trails at a nearby state park on the weekends. “The fresh air is great for all of us,” says Victoria.
With a minimal design that consists of metal tubing, canvas seats, and mini-bicycle-style wheels, they are lightweight and a breeze to push and maneuver. Originally designed to accommodate runners, jogging strollers are built with plenty of leg room, so they will not hinder your stride. Not feeling fleet of foot? Running is optional; walkers enjoy the ease-of-use just as much, though in-line skating is a no-no.
You can find joggers to accommodate one, two, or even three little ones. Because joggers do not have the same support as a standard stroller or carriage, it is a good idea to wait until your baby has control of his head (generally around six months of age) to go for a spin. Very young passengers will appreciate reclining seats, and a rolled towel or car seat neck roll for head support. Most jogging strollers have a weight limit of about 75 pounds, which means you can bring your child along until about age four—or as long as you can convince her to sit still!
On the downside, jogging strollers are bigger than your average stroller, making them more cumbersome to store and transport. They're also pricey. Expect to pay $300 or more for a single model. Mini jogging-strollers are less expensive, but there are tradeoffs: small overall size and 12” wheels mean a bumpier ride and less room for baby.
Some stroller companies also offer less expensive three-wheelers, but they are not necessarily intended for jogging. Plastic materials and small wheels keep the price down, but they result in a less durable and less comfortable vehicle for pusher and passenger.
What to Look For
Not all jogging strollers are created equal. When choosing a jogging stroller, look for these features:
Before you buy, take the stroller for a test drive. Borrow a stroller from a friend to try it out, or jog around the store to make sure the stroller is a good fit for you and for baby.
Before you hit the road, take a few simple precautions to make sure your precious cargo stays safe. Use the tether, a simple strap to loop around your wrist, in case of a runaway stroller. As your child gets bigger, make sure little hands can't reach the wheels where they could get rubbed or snagged in the spokes.
Look for ASTM International certification to ensure that the stroller meets the most rigorous standard set by the jogging stroller industry. However, ASTM testing is not required by law, so not all manufacturers participate.
Baby Stroller Shop
Canadian Academy of Sports Medicine
Anders M. Wellness on: new ACE research reveals calorie burn and body benefits of walking with a baby stroller. American Council on Exercise website. Available at: http://www.acefitness.org/getfit/studies/WellnessOnWheels.pdf. Updated November 2007. Accessed September 15, 2011.
ASTM International website. Available at: http://www.astm.or... .
Last reviewed September 2011 by Brian Randall, MD