A stroller is an essential part of getting your infant or upright toddler around, to save you the strain of carrying them when their little legs get tired. However, while a stroller used to be a simple thing with no bells and whistles, these days many new options have been added that enhance safety and functionality.
Not all strollers are made the same, and you’ll want to consider the best for your child’s age and weight, as well as your location (urban or rural). There are other considerations, for example if you want to be active while transporting your child. Here are seven stroller safety tips for parents to consider…
1. Get a Reclining Stroller for Newborns
If your child is still brand new, make sure you get a stroller that reclines (ideally, all the way to a flat position), notes the Mayo Clinic. This is because newborns can’t hold up their heads yet, so you’ll have a situation where their head may be flopping around.
On the same note, if you are buying a “jogging stroller” so you can take baby with you on morning runs, keep in mind that most of these types of strollers aren’t designed for younger infants. The clinic recommends waiting until your child is 6-months old before introducing them to this ride.
2. Consider a Stroller that Accepts a Car Seat
Moving your child from one ride to another can be difficult, especially in a busy parking lot. To avoid strain on you and make the process safer, consider getting a unit that can accept a car seat attachment. That way, you can leave baby asleep while you transport them from stroller to car or into the house.
While these types of strollers that can accept multiple types of attachments may be more expensive, it’s worth the investment. Umbrella strollers don’t adequately support a newborn, and you’ll be potentially struggling (and waking them up unnecessarily) when it’s time to leave the grocery store parking lot.
3. Put the Brakes on Dangerous Situations
Many models of strollers have a brake that can easily be accessed, which is important to use whenever stopped–especially if you’re in a more populated area. One moment of negligence can lead to the pram rolling into a roadway or down a hill, which is the stuff of new parents’ nightmares.
The brake should be easy to operate, so you’re not straining yourself. Foot brakes are ideal, and you can also choose models that lock both back wheels. Make sure the brake is not in a position where your child can reach it while you’re checking your Facebook messages on your smartphone, adds HealthyChildren.org.
4. Use the Seat Harness
Just like as you (hopefully) would when putting your child in a car seat, you should also use the stroller’s safety harness when taking them for a… stroll. Even when the child is in a reclined position, a bump on the sidewalk or a sudden stop could result in a hazard.
Look for a stroller that has at least a 3-point harness that’s not easy for your little one to unlatch. A 5-point system is even more ideal, as it cradles the shoulders and around the waist and legs. It should, however, be easy for you to unlatch as a parent, so you can get baby in and out of the stroller quickly if necessary.
5. Don’t Use the Pram as a Hanging Basket
It might tempting to tie your shopping bags around the handle of the stroller as you and baby hit the city, but it’s not a good idea. The unit is designed to operate with a balanced weight, and as HealthyChildren.org points out, hanging a bag from the handle could make it tip backwards if you’re not holding onto it.
It’s best to get a unit with a storage basket underneath if you plan to make trips to the store often or want to carry extra items for baby on longer walks. Just be sure not to overload the basket, and to evenly space the items out so they don’t throw disproportionate weight to the back or front.
6. Seeing Eye-to-Eye about Safety
Safety1st.com recommends having a stroller that is parent-facing (although many units can detach from the wheelbase and be turned around securely). This is because infants feel safer when they have you in view, not to mention you’ll have more peace of mind by seeing them.
When the child can walk (i.e. becomes a toddler), it’s less important to them that they can see you all the time. Their curiosity will grow and they’ll want to see the world in front of them without you obstructing their view, notes the source. This is another reason it’s probably more economical to buy a versatile stroller from the start rather than having to trade up.
7. Double the Children, Double the Precautions
Sometimes people have twins… or children are close in age. Or, perhaps you are taking your child’s best buddy for a ride-along. In any case, if you’re using a double stroller, make sure the footrest along the front is one solid piece and not two separate pieces, as little feet can become jammed between them, notes HealthyChildren.org.
Speaking of multiple children, there are other units designed to let an older child stand on the rear. Make sure you’re following all the weight guidelines and that the older child is not rocking the stroller back and forth. A wider wheelbase is always best for stability.