Congratulations! Your little bundle of joy has arrived and you've thought of everything... crib or bassinet, pacifier or no pacifier, bottle or no bottle - and now it’s time to start shopping for a new stroller. With so many options it can be overwhelming to think about and stroller safety for parents is one of the top concerns. While most strollers have some of the same safety concerns, each stroller has slightly different characteristics so while one may have a tipping problem another doesn’t. Consider this Stroller Safety 101. They come in every shape and configuration, but there are some key things you need to know first before you make that purchase.
Standard Safety Equipment
All strollers have to meet certain standard safety criteria to be sold on retail shelves so you are guaranteed that minimum requirements are met. These standard features include things like locking mechanisms for the wheels, a minimum of a 3-point safety belt, locking mechanism to keep the stroller seat locked into seated position and to prevent “folding” on your child, and of course warning labels. These are wonderful requirements to have mandated but this is your baby and you want to make double sure he or she is absolutely safe.
Do’s and Don’ts
Do stay Close. Your baby needs to be able to see you to feel safe in the first place. You couldn’t have peace of mind with your baby out of your sight either so try if possible to keep at least on hand on the stroller and if it’s not possible at east be close enough to grab it, within arm’s reach, at all times.
Do give him or her a toy. It’s ok to hand them small toys and noise makers (if your nerves can handle it!) just be modest with the entertainment, and be sure they don't present a choking hazard.
Do click it. Check your baby’s harness and make sure it’s securely fastened. Sometimes we are in a hurry, but listen for the sound and you know the little bit is safe.
Do put all bags in the under seat bottom compartment. It’s so easy to just flop your purse or diaper bag around the handle bars and go on your way but don’t. The umbrella stroller has zero storage underneath so that’s the biggest offender. You can purchase a clip on tray or, dare I say it, a fanny pack may do the trick.
Don’t leave it sitting in the sun. During the summer or warmer months, the pool or the park are the places to go. Your baby will be out and about, cover your stroller. The stroller is made of metal and plastic which, if left in the sun, can get very hot and burn your baby’s sensitive skin.
Don’t leave it on an incline. Even if the stroller wheels are locked, the stroller could tip forward, and even with the 5-point harness, significant harm could be done to your baby. And again, even with the stroller wheels locked, it could slide on an incline.
Don’t let the baby sleep overnight. A nap is absolutely fine and honestly welcome in a lot of cases. But if it’s late at night when everybody’s tired, or maybe the baby fell asleep on your walk, even if you have to wake him or her up, it’s better to do that now. There have been cases of children suffocating in strollers. Remember there's a good reason for the warning label on the side.
Don’t fold the stroller right next to your baby or little one. By their nature they are curious. Little fingers could get caught in the stroller’s hinges. Strollers are meant to have solid frames and structure and at the joints it’s no different. Little fingers are no match for such heavy construction.
Manufacturers have taken the standard safety requirements set up by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and added additional features. A perfect example of this is the 5-point safety harness that comes on just about every stroller out there, with the exception of certain umbrella strollers. Most have double wheel locking, seat back “click” lock systems, locking trays and strong frames. There are a lot of options for you to choose from and you have to find what fits with your lifestyle and meets your safety needs. One area to be extra vigilant is when you're purchasing a stroller second hand or when Auntie June really wants you to have the rolling death machine your cousin Mikey had that’s made of plastic and still has applesauce stains on it. Most old style strollers are void of many of today's safety features, and are not going to cut it. Just remember the best safety feature your baby has is you.