It’s one of the deep set topics that I didn’t understand before having children. Keeping your small children warm (much like them being fed) is such a powerful need/concern, it’s like an emotional tug on the heart, not just a task.
So, when you consider taking them out in the wind, rain and cold for some fresh air and to get you some exercise, then it’s only too right that you spend some time getting the set up sorted. Once you get into the routine it becomes second nature of course.
My girls are 4 and nearly 2. I have run with both from an early age and this includes in winter. I set up runningbuggies.com in 2015 because i wanted to help more parents in the UK discover running buggies as an option to keep fit when you have young children. I have learnt through trial and error what works in winter and here are my top tips for you.
1) Avoid damp snacks & drippy drinks in the buggy! Any fruit pouches or drinks that spill will mean damp clothes which will make the passenger far colder than they need to be, especially if there is a factor of wind-chill. Even while using a non-spill drink beaker’s my girls have decided to spit out their drink which then has led to wet clothes on a run. Better to stop and offer them drinks before removing the beakers back to a pocket. Good snacks are raisins, crackers, banana, breadsticks, oaty bars etc.
2) The rain cover is your friend! The rain cover can be used to keep chills and wind off your little one. I know some older children can object more to removing the view, I get around this by letting them watch films on my phone or playing on the Cbeebies app! Most running buggies will have some air vents in the back of the seat which can be revealed when the rain cover is one to ensure air circulation. Make sure you seek these out and reveal them. The bike trailers which convert into running buggies, like the Thule Chariot Cougar, have a cover on the front which is down most of the time, either with mesh front or the plastic waterproof one. My girls enjoy their rides in that as it feels 100% enclosed and like their little den.
3) Gloves are essential for the pusher. I don’t always wear running gloves as I’m not keen on the sweaty palm sensation but when you are pushing a buggy they get far colder, stuck in one position on the handlebar and with the wind moving over them. Lots of places do cheap ones like Decathlon, Sports Direct, Amazon etc.
4) Layers are key for bubba. The ideal scenario is that you get a sleeping bag/cosytoes/footmuff for your buggy which means that they are all zipped up with no blankets unravelling or wellies being kicked off. However, some cheap versions have been known to slip down and touch the front wheel so do look at the review’s around before you invest. I’ve always been a fan of all in 1 snowsuits which can be waterproof and allow for many layers underneath, and some on top if need be too. Here is Heidi in January 2016 aged 1 at parkrun when it was zero degrees. The hands are a key worry area for me, particularly when the child is a bit older and wants to snack or play. You could go old skool and attach gloves to the coat via sown on string or elastic through the arms. I have also resorted to hairbands at the elbows over children’s ski socks to keep hands covered and warm.
5) Adapt to the conditions. Change your route to paths if there is snow. Consider putting zip ties on your wheels for grip on ice. Go for forest paths when it snows or its icy but consider if all the dog walkers are also headed there you may need to clean the tyres before they go in the car (dog poo alert). Put lights on your buggy if you run in the dark. And finally, one that I find hard to do, ignore the tech (Strava/watches), and stop frequently to ensure your little one is okay, no blue lips or very cold hands.
Babies benefit from fresh air rather than circulated stale air so go on, get out there! And I love to finish with a hot chocolate to reward everyone!