Stroller safety

Watch the motorcade of strollers rolling around parks and shopping malls, and you'll see just how many varieties there are if you look closely. Umbrella strollers whisk by - simple, small, and easy to fold up and tote. Contrast those basic models with the full-size travel strollers (miniaturized baby SUVs equipped with clip-in car seat and storage for stowing diapers and sippy cups) or the active strollers with ATV-style wheels or hitches for bikes. You may even be able to catch a sighting of a vintage pram or carriage-style stroller every now and then.

Shop around and imagine using strollers in your natural environment. If you're a car commuter, you may want a stroller that easily converts from sidewalk to car seat. If you take the public transit, you might opt for a fold-up umbrella stroller for ease of getting on and off buses and trains. Manoeuvring wide-berthed, all-terrain strollers can be tricky on busy city streets, and a thin-rimmed pram may not be the best bet if you'll be detouring through the park.

Whether you're on the market for a simple or super-deluxe model, here are a few selection and safety tips that should apply to all strollers:

  • select a sturdy stroller: Even the lightweight umbrella strollers for quick trips should be well-designed and built to prevent tipping backwards. Check that the stroller you choose includes a lap belt or a safety harness. Test brakes and wheel attachments, and ensure that collapsible strollers lock properly when folded.

  • follow the reader: Because of the huge variety and levels of complexity available for tot transport, it is so important that parents and caregivers consult and abide by the instructions and suggestions included in their particular stroller instruction manuals. Read over the rules thoroughly and pay attention to specifications for your child's height and weight, as well as how much you can safely stow in a stroller's under-seat storage space. Keep in mind that full shopping bags can weigh more than a small child, and can easily tip a stroller backwards when left unattended. Retain make, model, and manufacturing date in case of product recalls. Regularly check your stroller for any visible signs of damage.

  • strap your child in securely: Open your stroller fully and lock it before putting your child into it. And don't skip the safety harness and lap belt just because you're not going far. Pillows, blankets, and padding can all pose suffocation risks, so leave them out of the stroller if possible.

  • stroll safely: Bypass the escalators in favour of the elevator. Engage the stroller's brakes whenever you stop, even if only for a moment. When waiting for a green light at crosswalks, keep the stroller well clear of the curb. When crossing a road and taking those first steps onto the pavement, take a second glance for oncoming traffic - it is the stroller, not you, that enters the roadway first. If you must stop while on a hill, do so at an angle perpendicular to the incline of the hill and not in a downhill direction, and fully engage the brakes. Keep a hand on the stroller for added assurance. And when doing the stroller-to-car transition, secure your child in the vehicle safety seat before unloading groceries or other items.

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