Outdoor Activities with a Baby

From biking and hiking to walking and jogging, today’s parents are keeping fit and bonding with their babies in the process. While baby carriers, joggers and trailers can make life easier and more enjoyable, they can cause pain and injury if not used properly. Talk to your patients about keeping outdoor activities safe and enjoyable.

If you wish to go for a jog and bring your child along, the baby jogger is your best option. A baby jogger is a stroller that a parent can jog behind, using handlebars to maneuver. Here are some rules of thumb to consider:

  • Make sure the handlebars of the jogger are large and adjustable, to fit comfortably into your hands for complete control. Handbrakes and a locking mechanism are a necessity.
  • Look for a jogger with a good shoulder harness to keep the child secure.
  • Large, bicycle-style tires offer more control and stability.
  • A screen over the front of the jogger adds to its safety by deflecting stray flying objects.
  • When placing a child into a trailer or jogger, exercise caution. Don’t bend from the waist, but begin in a three-point squat and implement a two-stage lift that consists of 1) pulling the child up to your chest and then 2) lifting straight up with your leg muscles.

Walking or Hiking
For walking or hiking, backpack-style or front-side baby carriers work well for the baby, helping you watch to make sure the child’s head is stable. Remember, however, that these products decrease a parent’s stability. Get into shape before attempting to use them—and consider the following tips:

  • Choose a backpack-style or front-side baby carrier with wide straps, to distribute the carrier’s weight evenly. The shoulder straps should fit comfortably over the center of your collarbone.
  • The carrier should include a harness to keep the child stable.
  • Once you place the child in the carrier, check to make sure there is no bunching of material against the child’s body, particularly on the back, buttocks and spine. Isolated, uneven pressure like this can cause pain.
  • If you use a baby sling, remember that a baby can become very hot inside it, so be mindful of the temperature around you. Also, make certain the baby’s breathing is clear and unobstructed by the sling’s material.
  • Never run or jog while carrying a baby in a backpack-style carrier, front-side carrier or baby sling. This can damage the baby’s neck, spine and/or brain.

When biking with a child on board, use a trailer—a rolling ride-along that hitches to the back end of a bike. This is a safer option than a carrier—a “passenger” seat that sits directly on the bike, which can decrease a bike’s stability, possibly causing it to topple. To further ensure the child’s safety while biking, remember the following tips:

  • Equip the trailer with a harness that can be placed over the child’s body. The harness should be complicated enough that the child cannot unhook it or wiggle out of it.
  • Select a trailer with large, bicycle-style tires, which will add stability and ease to your ride.
  • Cover the front of the trailer with a screen for extra protection against stray pebbles and other objects.
  • Protect your child’s head with a sturdy, properly fitting helmet.
  • Bike only on smooth surfaces.
  • Only an experienced rider should attempt to bike with a child on board at all. And even then, practice with a ride-along trailer for two weeks before riding with a child.

source; ACA Today – Healthy Living Fact Sheets


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