The toddler years can be challenging in general, but trying to add stroller running to the mix can take things to a whole new level! However, there are so many benefits to stroller running with toddlers. Parents have a way to get their run done, the kids get time outside, and you get to spend time together as a family. So how do you navigate these tricky years when you have a small human who wants to be independent and changes their mind every 3 seconds? Oh, and let’s not forget that they now weigh quite a bit more than they did when they were babies! Let’s talk about some tips for stroller running with toddlers!
Tips for Stroller Running With Toddlers
Before getting into the tips for stroller running with toddlers, remember that it’s important to be prepare for your stroller run before it even begins. Pack up anything you may think you will need, like snacks, wipes, extra diapers, drinks, etc. If your toddler is potty trained try to get them to go before leaving the house!
And if you’re just getting started with stroller running in general, check out these 12 genius stroller running tips from Whitney at the Mother Runners and well as these Stroller Running Tips for Effective and Enjoyable Training from Laura at Laura Norris Running!
Are you struggling with finding time to run as a mom? Here are some ideas for fitting running into your schedule from Lauren at Running for Wellness.
Give them choices
Toddlers love to have some control, so as much as possible give them choices. “Do you want to come for a run with mom or stay home with dad?” “Do you want to wear your hat or your hood today?” When you’re running you can even ask them which way they want to go once in awhile!
Make it fun
Use the time outside together to talk, notice what you see, and have fun. Keep it as positive as possible. If your toddler is in a bad mood do what you can to make it work, but don’t push too hard. Some days they may not be feeling it, so you may want to cut the run short and try again another day. If stroller runs become a negative experience they will never want to go with you!
Pretty much any mother runner you ask will say that snacks are the key to keeping a toddler happy on stroller runs. However, the way you provide snacks (if at all) is totally up to you. It’s important to keep in mind that toddlers are still at risk of choking on certain foods, so be careful with your choices. Try choosing a snack that will take them a little while to eat, such as cheerios. Pouches of applesauce work well but can be eaten very quickly.
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I try to be as consistent as possible with snacks to avoid power struggles on the run. If we stick to the same types of snacks and the same amount of snacks on each run, my toddler knows what to expect.
Keep them entertained
Some parents bring toys or games for their toddlers to play with in the stroller. Make sure that anything breakable can’t be thrown out of the stroller. Also, try to find toys they can play with independently and won’t need your help.
Another way to keep a toddler entertained is by playing games together as you run. For example, looking for all the red cars, or counting all the busses you see. If there is a skill they are working on try to include it in your run somehow!
Laura, running coach at Laura Norris Running, suggests talking to your child throughout the run! “I will use the stroller run to point out animals and trees and talk to my toddler. This helps her language skills and keeps her engaged.”
Give them some control
I’ve said this already but it’s worth saying again: toddlers love to feel like they are in control! So try to find ways to make them a part of your run. If you run in an area where there is a playground nearby, maybe you can try to stop there towards the end of your run. (Keep in mind, if you pass it early on they will probably want to stop there right away!)
Whitey, founder of The Mother Runners and running coach, suggests ending someplace fun to give them an incentive to go the distance. “We used to end at a park or a nearby bakery for muffins at the end of our runs. Giving us a destination to run to helped when they weren’t feeling it and needed something more enticing than the run itself.”
Be willing to be flexible
You may need to make lots of stops when stroller running with a toddler, and that’s ok! Try not to get too set on a distance you want to do either, because anything can happen once you are out there and it may not be possible to cover all the miles you planned.
Whitney also says to “Give yourself grace. Don’t go out the door expecting to run for a certain time or distance. Just do the best you can. Your toddler may not be feeling it and there is no point making it an unhappy experience for all involved–it will just make future runs that much harder. Enjoy the quality time you have together. It is fleeting!”
Slow down or walk if you need to
Toddlers are much heavier than babies, and when you put them in a 25 pound stroller the weight can really add up! Adjust slowly to stroller running with a toddler if it’s not something you’re used to. Remember that your pace will be slower than when you are running alone. And walk breaks are totally ok!
Lauren, running coach at Running for Wellness, suggests you lower your speed expectations. “When you are pushing a running stroller that also contains a child, you’re adding a lot of effort to your normal run. My advice is to not expect yourself to run at the same speed. It’s expected that stroller running is going to be a little harder than without it, and that’s ok!”
Let them join in the fun!
As challenging as it can be to stroller run with a toddler, lots of parents have been able to make it work! Here are some real tips from moms who have been stroller running with their toddlers:
Whitney: Play games! Count squirrels. Play I spy. Go past interesting places like construction sites. My son got into Halloween at a really young age so we would look for “haunted houses” on our runs. We decided any house with all the curtains drawn were hiding something, ha!
Laura: Start with a full belly. I try to time stroller runs after a meal or snack for my little one so hunger doesn’t disrupt the run. Also, maintain the tire pressure. The run will feel really hard really quick if you try to push a 30 pound toddler in a stroller. I check my tires every few runs to ensure a smooth, easy ride.
Lauren: Invest in a high-quality running stroller. Having a good running stroller can make a huge difference to the stroller running experience. I love the BOB Revolution Flex 3.0, but if that’s out of your budget, you can find some really great ones second-hand! And make it a fun experience for you and your child – The best part of stroller running is making it a unique bonding experience between you and your child. Talk to your baby during the run. If they’re old enough, ask them questions.
Thanks to Whitney, Laura, and Lauren for your tips! Running with toddlers can be a really fun way to spend time as a family. Hopefully these tips will help you make the most of your time out there stroller running!
You may also like:
- How to Run with Proper Form When Using a Jogging Stroller
- How To Dress Babies and Toddlers For Stroller Runs in the Cold
- What It’s Like To Stroller Run With a 1 Year Old
Have you ever tried stroller running with a toddler?
How do you involve your family in your runs?
Now it’s time for the Runners’ Roundup! Link up your running and fitness posts below! Join myself, Coach Debbie Runs, Confessions of a Mother Runner, Runs with Pugs , and Laura Norris Running to post your favorite running tips, experiences, race and training recaps, workouts, gear, and coaching ideas.