Whether you’re a mommy-to-be, or a seasoned soccer dad of six, finding the right stroller for both you and your little one isn’t always a walk in the park. In fact, it can be a pretty time-consuming process.
Not only are there different types of transport systems, but there’s also an ever-lengthening list of addons, accessories, and safety features to choose from. It’s the lions, and tigers, and bears of baby gear, and honestly, it’s enough to make you consider throwing a Radio Flyer on your registry instead… or is it?
When the safety of our child is at risk, as overwhelming as the process is, we have to do our due diligence—even if the means confronting some pretty scary statistics first.
A 2017 study published in the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics found that between 1991 and 2010, nearly 361,000 children under the age of 5 were admitted to the hospital with stroller-related injuries, with a reported 25% receiving treatment for concussions or traumatic injuries. That’s two children going to the emergency room per hour, either because they fell from their stroller, or had it tip over with them still in it.
Kristi Roberts, who works as a research associate at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, discussed similar findings in her 2016 study: “The majority of injuries we saw were head injuries, which is scary considering the fact that traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and concussions in young children may have long term consequences on cognitive development.”
Thankfully, product failure accounted for only a small fraction of the injuries recorded (0.9%), but that doesn’t mean parents should breathe a sigh of relief. Of the nursery product-related injuries looked at, a surprising 16.5% were associated with strollers, none of which can be attributed to manufacturer defect.
So what’s a parent to do? When your baby is your number one priority, it’s always safety first—
—so for starters, take a deep breath…
Even if you’re planning to purchase online, head to a local baby store and spend an afternoon giving the floor models a test drive. While you’re there, here are some important safety features and measures to be mindful of:
Is it newborn safe? Babies don’t gain full control of their heads and necks until they’re between 4 and 6 months. Until they do, you’ll need a stroller with a deep recline so your little one can lie back (or even completely flat). If you want something your infant can grow with, travel systems may be your best bet for adaptability, as they will allow you to swap out a bassinet for a car seat when the time comes.
Stop and go. Test the brakes or swivel lock system to make sure they’re easy to operate. What about the release mechanism? Do you find yourself tripping it by accident? Make sure your baby won’t be able reach the release lever, either. And consider brakes that lock two wheels at once.
All about that base. Look for a transport system with a wide base or frame. We’ve seen the statistics about tip-overs, and this will help reduce the risk of it happening to your precious cargo.
Beware tiny fingers. Kiddos are known for their curious hands, so be mindful of hinges or tight gaps on either side of the carrier. Just because your fingers can’t fit, doesn’t mean theirs won’t find a way. Beware of any sharp edges or protrusions as well. The further you delay having your little one learn the word “boo-boo,” the better.
Here comes the sun. If you plan to spend a lot of time in the great outdoors, choose a stroller with a shade or umbrella. Not only will it help keep your baby cool on summer days, but it’ll also reduce their exposure to harmful UV rays. In Southern California, this is especially important.
Buckle up for safety. Always. Most strollers on the market come with a five-point harness as standard, but don’t just assume yours will have one. Also, test the snaps before you leave, and make sure your baby won’t be able to unbuckl
Now, what if you’re on the active side? In that case, you should look into a jogger. They have larger wheels with deeper treads, which give you better traction and a smoother outdoor ride.
When giving joggers a test drive, we can’t recommend reenacting The Fast and the Furious in the aisles, but you should know how the stroller feels while being put through its paces. See if the store will let you take the floor model outside for a quick, supervised sprint up and down the sidewalk.
If you and your partner are different heights, but both plan to use your new stroller, this would be the time to ensure you both comfortable behind it as well. Check the grips on the handlebars. How does they feel? Like you’re about to spend several hundred (or thousand) dollars? Good, you’ve reached the homestretch.
Once you get your new stroller back to your house (and before you crash face-first on the couch for a nap), take the time to immediately register it. This will keep you apprised of any recalls or defect announcements, and also let you quickly make use of your warranty if the need arises.
If you already own a stroller, and it was made before 2014, head over to www.cpsc.gov and check to see if it’s been recalled. That’s when the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission approved new standards “intended to improve the safety of infant’s and children’s carriages and strollers.” These rules were again updated in 2016.
Choosing the right stroller for you and your family can be exhausting, but we promise it’s worth it. See, exhibit A:
And if all else fails, you can always give these alternative modes of child transport a go. (Although we can’t speak to their safety.)
Have a serious injury and need legal advice?
Contact Howard Blau.
Check Out These References for Further Reading:
“Stroller Safety: Tips For Parents.” Mayo Clinic. Retrieved 23 April 2018. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/stroller-safety/art-20043967
“How to Buy a Safe Stroller.” HealthyChildren.org. Retrieved 23 April 2018. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/on-the-go/Pages/How-to-Buy-a-Safe-Stroller.aspx
“Heading Out With Baby.” HealthyChildren.org. Retrieved 23 April 2018. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/Pages/Heading-Out-With-Baby.aspx
“Stroller Buying Guide.” Consumer Reports. Retrieved 23 April 2018. https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/strollers/buying-guide/index.htm
“Surprising stats on baby stroller accidents revealed in new report.” CBS News. Retrieved 23 April 2018. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/strollers-baby-carriers-accidents/
“Safety tips help protect children from stroller injuries.” AAP News. Retrieved 24 April 2018. http://www.aappublications.org/news/2016/10/27/PPStrollers102716
“How to Buy a Baby Stroller.” What To Expect. Retrieved 24 April 2018. https://www.whattoexpect.com/baby-products/strollers/#how-do-i-make-sure-my-stroller-is-safe