Running With A Baby – How to Keep Your Child Entertained
Being a parent is one of life’s biggest blessings. Bringing a new life into the world is one of the most miraculous things you will probably ever do, and it can be so full of joy! However, it also comes with its fair share of challenges as well. One of those challenges is learning to balance your workouts and running with parenting and making sure your child has his or her needs met.
It is no surprise to anyone that babies are a lot of work and often require your full and complete attention – often to the point that you give up virtually all other comforts and hobbies to ensure they are fed, clothed, rested, and happy. If you are a parent who has been gifted with family living close by who are willing to step in and watch your baby while you go out for a run, or who have an excellent and reliable babysitting team to cover for you so you can get your sweat on, then consider yourself extremely lucky!
For the most part, though, we have to figure out how to navigate parenting and taking care of our children AND ourselves without much outside help. For a lot of runners, this means strapping our babies into a jogging stroller and taking them with us. But running with a baby can be tough, especially when they get bored and want or need attention. Fortunately, you can run with your baby in tow and keep them entertained so you can crank out your miles (even during a long run!)
Let Them Play!
Babies have a short attention span – it is why we have to write this article in the first place! They have trouble being entertained by one thing for too long, so keeping a baby entertained in a jogging stroller starts by having toys, and having a lot of them in a variety. Since you will be jogging and moving along faster than just a walker’s pace, you will need toys that strap on or connect to the stroller itself. Not only does this ensure they do not bounce out, but we all know that children like to see what happens when they chuck objects through the air… and unless you want to be stopping your run every five minutes to pick up a thrown toy, it is best to make sure that they are connected to the stroller, while still reachable to the child and can be grasped, held, and played with by little hands.
Plan your run at a time or in a place where you will not distract other runners so that you can give your child toys that make sounds and light up. This will help keep them entertained even longer. Toys that have multiple functions, buttons, things to press and pull, etc are even better. If your child is young enough that the bump and motion of a running stroller could put them to sleep, then toss out toys that would lead to stimulation and instead consider a rotating mobile or something similar that would help lull them to sleep. And if they have a favorite stuffed animal toy that gives them comfort and that they associate with napping or sleeping, be sure to stash that away too.
Do not give it to them at the beginning, because these probably will not be attached to the stroller and thus can be tossed out easily, but rather, save them for when your child starts to get fussy or cranky, in order to soothe them so that you can run a little bit longer.
Snacks on Snacks on Snacks
Even adults get grumpy and irritable when they are hungry! Your baby is constantly growing and changing and they need a LOT of food and calories to sustain them! If your baby is so young that they can’t hold a bottle or feed themselves, then this one is obviously going to be a bit impossible. But for the tots that are a little bit older, be sure to pack drinks (water, juice, and milk in sippy cups) and a variety of snacks so that they have options depending on their mood, and to make sure they get enough to eat if one snack fails to satisfy them.
Even though today’s jogging strollers are really well made, top of the line and state of the art pieces of machinery, the ride can still be bumpy. Try to pack dry foods that are easy to swallow and easy to pack, to avoid having to clean up big messes later on.
Dress for the Weather
An uncomfortable baby is a cranky baby, so be sure to check the forecast before you head out. If the weather is looking too extreme – either too hot or too cold or calling for rain, snow, or other forms of precipitation – then keep that child indoors! But even those perfect days when there is not a cloud in the sky, a light breeze is blowing, and temperatures are in the 60s and 70s can bring discomfort to your little one. Be sure you stow away extra blankets and layers to wrap him or her up if things start to get too chilly or windy. Have extra socks, hats, and gloves stashed away. (In fact, always play it safe and just bring an entire change of clothes, complete with plenty of extra diapers. You never know when you are going to be facing a big blow out and need to change your baby STAT.)
When In Doubt, Take It Indoors
If you have had failed attempt after failed attempt at keeping your little one entertained while outside on a run, then it is probably best to play it safe and keep your runs inside until you can find a sitter or some extra adult help to watch them while you venture out. A lot of gyms, especially bigger gyms, have indoor tracks you can safely run on – even if it means running 10 laps to complete a mile… And of course, there is always the treadmill. If you have a treadmill at home, then simply set your tot up close by with toys and snacks to keep him or her occupied while you run.
This way, you can even watch them the whole time! If you only have access to a treadmill at a gym, do not be afraid to utilize the gym’s childcare (if offered). Most gyms will take in even young babies to let you get some sweat out. Running with a baby does not have to be stressful and overwhelming as long as you have a way to keep them entertained and distracted!
- How To Keep Your Baby Happy in the Stroller, Figur8 Article ,