You may also enjoy our related review of the top standard-size strollers.
Why Buy a Jogging Stroller?
The following details will guide you through the important features of jogging strollers and will help you decide which stroller and features are right for you.
Running with your baby in a jogging stroller and biking with your baby in a child bike trailer, can expose your baby to stressful forces that can be harmful. Consult with your pediatrician to ensure your baby has sufficient neck and core muscle strength before you begin using a jogging stroller or child bike carrier.
Dr. Spurrier, pediatrician and founder of BabyGearLab notes, "It's important to avoid running and biking with young babies due to the jarring and jostling stresses that can occur. All babies need to have adequate neck and core muscle strength before they can safely participate in any jogging or biking activities. This generally does not occur until at least 8 months of age."
One of the top manufacturers of joggers, BOB Gear, recommends waiting until your baby is at least 8 months old before jogging. We would go one step further and say that running and biking with your baby should be strictly limited to smooth surfaces between 8 to 12 months. At a minimum of 12 months, babies can begin to ride on rougher terrain, provided they are adequately restrained in a 5-point harness with proper padding and support. In addition, children riding in a child bike trailer should wear an appropriate bike helmet.
How are Joggers Different?
Jogging strollers have several features designed to reduce the impact of the road:
- Larger pneumatic (air-filled) rubber tires —
- Effective suspension systems —
- Locking/Fixed front wheel — If you try to jog with a traditional stroller, or even a jogger with the front wheel unlocked, you will find that the front wheel(s) start wobbling. This creates strong vibrations in the stroller and makes jogging uncomfortable for you and baby. This can also result in the front wheel(s) turning so sharply that the jogger tips over. All strollers designed for jogging provide the ability to fully lock the front wheel, and the better products offer adjustable tracking for straight movement.
- Long distance between wheels —
Your Multi-Purpose Stroller
Overview of Basic Features
The common features you might see in a jogging style stroller are:
- Safety certification by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) according to the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards: So you can be confident the stroller was built with safety in mind and passed rigorous safety tests.
- Three wheels with pneumatic (air filled) tires: This means a smoother ride, but also that you'll need to check the pressure regularly like bicycle tires, and you'll need a pump to inflate them should they go flat.
The recommended pressure for inflating stroller tires is often different than the pressure shown on the side of the tire. ALWAYS double check the stroller manual or company website for inflation guidelines. Do NOT rely on the pressure shown on the tire itself.
- Five-point harness: Goes over the shoulders, across the hips and between the legs to secure baby in the seat and minimize injuries in case of a crash, similar to the harness in infant car seats. This is especially important in the event of a stroller flip due to user error or a faulty front wheel assembly.
- Safety tether:
- Parking brake: It is very important to engage the parking brake every time you park the stroller. Double check that the brake is fully engaged by attempting to move the stroller back and forth before letting go.
- Peek-a-boo window: Usually a covered window on the canopy to keep an eye on your child while jogging.
- Reclining seat: For baby's comfort.
- Under-seat storage basket: Storage for the things you and baby might need when out and about. This storage area is key since the low center-of-gravity helps keep the stroller stable and avoid tip-overs. You should never put heavy objects, such as your purse or diaper bag, on the handlebar. These items can cause the stroller to tip and creates a safety risk.
- Folding mechanism: All of the strollers we tested are relatively easy to fold, but keep in mind that in general folded joggers are not small. And, even though the wheels can be taken off, joggers still may take up more space in your trunk than other kinds of strollers.
Avoid carrying children while holding hot beverages; never place a hot beverage in the cup holder of a stroller. The Burn Center at St. Barnabas
How do I decide which stroller is best for me?
First: Fixed or Locking Swivel Front Wheel
Jogging style strollers come with either a permanently fixed front wheel or a locking swiveling front wheel. When jogging, having the front wheel fixed (or in locked mode) is a must! This ensures that the stroller tracks straight and doesn't shoot off in an unexpected direction as it goes over a bump or loose debris. This feature also makes turning difficult, so you aren't able to accidentally make a sharp turn at high speed and risk rolling the stroller with your baby on-board. Some serious runners believe that a fixed wheel is the only way to go for running, and as a result they shy away from the options with a locking swivel wheel. However, in our tests we discovered that this isn't as big of a concern as it used to be. Some of the new swivel wheel designs have locking mechanisms that not only lock the wheel with little to no play at all, but the swivel wheel adds functionality to the stroller that makes it easier to use for everyday activities outside of running.
Thule Urban Glide and the BOB Revolution Flex because we feel both are an exception to this dated belief that fixed wheel is best. When the front wheel is locked, both products perform better than their fixed wheeled counterparts made by the same companies.
You might ask, "If the Thule Urban Glide performs as well as a stroller with a fixed front wheel, and it offers the maneuverability of a swivel wheel, why would I consider a fixed wheel stroller?" Well, you may not want too. We understand this statement flies in the face of a long held belief in the world of runners, but the newer swivel wheeled strollers performed as well, or better than, the fixed options in our tests.
Burley Solstice have the best features for both worlds, and that serious runners and occasional hobbyists alike will enjoy their quality and performance no matter what the day has in store. Alternatively, our professional runner/tester indicated she preferred the BOB Revolution Flex over all of the competition.
Baby Trend Expedition, have adjustable tracking. While it lacked tracking adjustment, we found that the Baby Trend we purchased tracked straight enough for the occasional jog.
Second: Adjustable Handlebar
What kind of suspension to consider will depend on how often you plan to run and the kind of surfaces you plan to run on. In short, the rougher the ground, the better the suspension should be. Many of the cheaper models in our review did not have individual shocks, which leads us to believe that the manufacturers don't really expect you to run with them. Our Best Value winner, the Baby Trend Expedition, is a good example of this. Its lack of shocks and adjustable tracking make it a poor choice for serious runners.
Fourth: Additional Features
Final Consideration: Tell the Truth
Can a jogging option be my only stroller?
All of our award winners are great options depending on your needs, and a few of the other products have features you might want, but are not available on our winners. The Thule Urban Glide has the best of many worlds with high scores in most metrics. The Burley Solstice is the easiest to use and has a really simple fold. The Baby Trend Expedition is a good all around option that is a budget friendly and functional enough for everyday use with the occasional jog. And the BOB Revolution Flex was preferred by our expert in the field.
About the Review Team
Our review team for jogging strollers including our usual BabyGearLab research analyst team for testing the basic functionality, such as folding, maneuverability and more. But, we also created this review hand-in-hand with a professional running coach and national class runner, Carrie Vickers.
Carrie is running expert and a mother of three lovely little girls. She is a professional consultant in biomechanics for running, and an avid runner herself. You can read more about Carrie's background here.