Your stroller or child carrier may appear to be harmless, but is it keeping your baby safe? A new study published in Academic Pediatrics’ August 17th edition indicates that two children are injured in a stroller or carrier every hour.
While families often use strollers and carriers on a daily basis with no incidents, “when injuries do occur they can be quite serious,” says Kristi Roberts, study author and researcher at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. The majority of the study’s injuries were head injuries related to falling – which accounted for 67% of the stroller injuries. In order to combat stroller injuries, parents-to-be and new parents should be aware of the stroller features and best practices that can help to protect newborns and toddlers.
Not all strollers are created equally. When shopping for a stroller for your baby, keep an eye out for these stroller features:
- Wide base – The base is a crucial feature of a stroller; wide bases tend to be more stable and less likely to tip even when your baby moves around.
- Easy-to-operate brakes – Sufficient brakes are fundamental and should be set every time you stop your stroller. Be sure to test to make sure your child cannot reach the brake lever and look for a stroller with brakes that lock two wheels for an added safety benefit.
- Seatbelt – Keep your baby from sliding out of the stroller with a sturdy seatbelt or harness. Buckles should be easy for you to clasp, but difficult for your child to unlock.
- Single footrest – Steer clear of strollers that have two separate footrests – often seen on side-by-side tandem strollers – and instead opt for a single footrest across the stroller to avoid your children’s feet getting caught between footrests.
- Canopy – Avoid UV rays and harsh weather with a canopy that covers a portion of or the entire stroller. A clear “peak-a-boo” window helps to keep an eye on your baby, but still provides shade.
- Reclining stroller – If you plan to use a stroller for your newborn, invest in a stroller that reclines to provide suitable head and neck support, as newborns cannot sit up or hold their heads up.
Protecting your little one while strapped in doesn’t stop with a safe stroller. Parents should be mindful of how their actions while using a stroller or carrier directly impact child safety. Actively practicing these safety tips can be the key to keeping your baby safe when you’re on the go:
- Keep close – Even with a stroller with top-notch brakes, the most important safety recommendation is keeping a watchful eye on your child and staying close to the stroller to prevent rolling, tipping and other potential problems.
- Utilize safety features listed above – Always strap your baby in with the seatbelt, and set brakes when stopped… even when on flat surfaces.
- Avoid hanging bags – While some strollers are designed to hang diaper bags and purses on handles, many are not. Refer to the safety manual to see if your stroller is meant to hold bags, and even then, test the stroller sans baby to make sure it doesn’t tip over when fully loaded.
- Open and close with caution– When opening your stroller, check to make sure it’s fully locked in place before putting your baby in the seat. After you’re done using it, keep your little one a safe distance away when folding your stroller to put it away in order to avoid pinched fingers.
- Don’t text and push – Obvious? Perhaps, but in today’s digital age it’s important to remember not to use your smart phone while transporting your baby in a stroller. Distraction, even for a moment, can result in a stroller or carrier accident.
- Store indoors – During the summer months, store your stroller somewhere cool and out of the sun to avoid burning your baby on metal or plastic parts that can heat up in the sun.
- Look out for recalls – Submit your stroller’s warranty card to be notified in case of recalls. Don’t have the recall card? Set a Google alert to be emailed with news about the specific make and model.
- Update when needed – The first stroller you purchase may not be the last one. Update your stroller based on weight and age guidelines, as well as safety recommendations from your physician.
With the right stroller and the right amount of parental caution, there is no reason to worry about the safety of your baby when using a stroller. Strollers are a convenient and comfortable mode of transportation, and baby strollers are continuously improving their safety features and ease-of-use. If you have more questions about the best stroller for you and your little one, please ask your physician.