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6 Safety Tips For Walking With Your Baby: Self Defense For Moms

The most important thing to a mom is protecting her child. That’s something I didn’t fully feel until I had my baby girl this past January 2024. It completely changed the safety dynamic of walking, so let’s dive right into our 6 self defense tips for walking with your baby. 

Tip 1. Walk with your dog

how to stay safe when walking with your kids
Me, Grace, and our loyal guard dog Rocky on our daily walk!

In Tim Larkins book "When Violence is the Answer" Larkin states that more than any other method, a dog is the security system that police recommend most. Dogs aid the three components to self defense that we teach women in our program: deter, detect, and defend. 

They’re a deterrent to attackers due primarily to their bark. The last thing an attacker is looking for is attention and a dog almost guarantees it. As Tim points out, the only way to stop a dog barking at a threat is to shoot it, and a loud gunshot defeats the purpose of ending a loud bark.

They detect threats faster than the threat can detect them. I always know where people are around me because my dog Rocky has spotted them already. I noticed that Rocky pays extra attention to solo males. Interesting, because the majority of attacks against women come from a man acting alone, followed far behind by men acting in pairs. When we pass a family or a woman Rocky will notice them and keep walking. When he spots a solo male or a group of men he'll notice them, stop in his tracks and start slightly pulling on the leash. He knows they pose a threat.

Side Note on Spotting Anomalies: Why Are You Here?

Spotting anomalies means noticing what doesn’t fit in. People usually have a clear motive for being in a park/trail. Dog walking, walking with kids or spouse, and if alone they’re jogging, bike riding, going fishing, etc. What’s not common is a man, by himself, just walking around. Not all men walking alone are predators, but a man walking alone or in a car is what the most likely threat would look like and that’s worth paying attention to, just like how Rocky does.

So what do you do when you pass a solo male, group of men, or anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable? Keep your eye on them and keep a safe distance even if that means crossing the street. Don’t let them pass you on the same sidewalk, don’t let them get within arms length distance of you.

Dogs may defend your life. Most all dogs will deter and detect but not all dogs have the same ability or willingness to defend. Dogo Argentinos are known to fight off pumas to protect their families. My game plan, should someone attack me, is to let go of Rockys leash, run towards other people and call 911.

Conclusion: dogs are a PROBLEM to attackers. 

Tip 2: Know your offensive options

I'm a believer in developing physical self defense skills because no one can take them away from you. But even a highly skilled martial artist is limited with a baby on their chest or in a stroller. Running is by far your best defense, but how to get space to run if you’re backed up against something? As far as I can see the only physical option you have when baby wearing is a kick to the groin to quickly get space to run. This is also where a weapon you’re trained in will be very useful. If you’re trained in using a firearm, carry that. I bring pepper spray, and when I’m walking somewhere that's more secluded like a winding trail I keep it ready in hand. 

Tip 3: Dress ready to fight

If you knew you were going to have to fight today, what would you wear? I bet you’d look more like Lara Croft than Marry Poppins. You wouldn’t wear flip flops or loose clothing that would tangle or trip you up, you’d wear something you’re ready to fight and run in. 

"Don't get into a fight with a guy wearing sneakers if you're wearing flip flops." I predict that a man who's planning an attack will be wearing good running shoes, and if I'm wearing sandals I'm already at a huge disadvantage.

Most important is wearing close toed running shoes. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot (pun intended) by hindering your best defense. I personally like “zero-drop” Xero shoes. There’s a reason wrestling shoes are flat with no heel, you need to be grounded and balanced to fight and to run. Details like this make a difference. I mean, is there a single movie where the girl running from the serial killer doesn’t fall down? The fact is, falling while baby wearing could be catastrophic for your baby so I’m not willing to compromise on my get away shoes. Secondly I recommend wearing a fanny pack and not a purse. Carry only the essentials: poop bags, pepper spray/weapon, phone. You want to be hands free as much as possible. I also always wear a hat to improve my vision. 

[Edit: Today 03/11/24 on my walk with Rocky and baby a woman passing by said "you got it all together don't you!" I found her choice of words interesting. I'd like to think being perceived as 'put together' is a reflection of practicing what I am preaching in this article.]

Tip 4: Ditch your routine

For some parts of motherhood routines are beneficial, but when it comes to safety they can do more harm than good. Predators need two things to initiate an attack: a target and an opportunity. If a predator knows where you’ll be every day and when, that’s all they need to plan and execute an attack. Change up the time and route of your walk. Don't let your routine be easily predictable.

Tip 5: Use the full extent of your senses

Nothing can replace this one tip. Even the dog, because while they do have better eyes and ears than us we won’t always have them there. Remember: deter, detect, defend. Deterrence and detection are even more important with a baby because of how limited your defensive options are. Having to fight back is simply too risky. 

Avoidance is the defense.

You must anticipate and deter threats. You do this by using your eyes and ears to their full capacity, just like a dog. The number one destroyer of awareness is your phone. Think of your phone like an enemy to your awareness, your natural threat detection system. Keep it away so your senses can keep you alive. If you want to listen to music or a podcast, listen on speaker, not on headphones.

Tip 6: Remember the power of your voice

Even in a worst case scenario where someone is trying to harm you or your baby or trying to force you into their car, never forget the power of your voice. Remember the last thing they want is a scene, so that’s exactly what we need to give them. Scream your head off, yell for help at the top of your lungs and don’t stop. Even if it feels like no one is around, chances are someone will hear or at least the attacker will think someone will hear and leave on their own. 

The worst outcome is for you to get into the car or for them to take your baby. Police say to never go to a secondary location because once you do chances of survival drop dramatically. Most likely they’ll take you to a place they’ve made sure no one can see or hear you. But out in public the odds are still in your favor. That’s your turf, not theirs. Precisely because the threat of being seen and getting caught is still high and top of mind. Never stop bringing this possibility to the forefront of the attackers mind. Never let them stop doubting themselves. Never let them forget that YOU are a threat to them, not just the other way around. Make them feel as though their plan is already ruined and their best chance is to get away quickly. You do this by creating the biggest scene you can and drawing out the attack as long as possible. 

Thank you for reading! Every day for the last three weeks I have been thinking about this topic on my walks with my baby Grace and my dog Rocky. I hope this helps you become better prepared and more confident in defending yourself!

Girls Who Fight Self Defense Programs:

Written by Gemma Sheehan, founder of

Girls Who Fight. Our mission is to help women and girls lead safe and confident lives.

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