Mayo Clinic Health Library

Stroller safety: Tips for parents

Updated: 06-28-2012

If you're like most parents, you'll want to get at least one stroller for your baby. With so many designs and types of strollers, however, how do you choose?

Understand how to pick the best stroller for your baby and important stroller safety tips.

What should I consider when looking for a stroller?

When looking at strollers for your baby, consider:

  • Your location. If you live in or near a city, you'll likely need to be able to maneuver your stroller along crowded sidewalks and down narrow store aisles. You might also need to be able to collapse your stroller in a pinch to get on a bus or down stairs to the subway. Suburban parents, on the other hand, might want to look for a stroller that's easy to fold and fits into the trunk of a vehicle.
  • Your family. If you have twins or an older child, you might consider getting a double stroller or a stroller with an attachment that allows your older child to stand or sit in the rear. If you're planning to use an attachment for your older child, be sure to read the manufacturer's weight guidelines.
  • Your lifestyle. Frequent travelers might want a collapsible umbrella stroller — either in addition to a sturdier stroller or as the primary stroller. An umbrella stroller can also be useful during errands. Plan to take your baby along on your runs? You might look for a jogging stroller, too.
  • Accessories. Do you want your baby's stroller to have certain features or accessories, such as a storage basket, rain cover, blanket, sun shade or cup holder? Often, accessories are sold separately. Some strollers aren't compatible with certain accessories.

What type of stroller is safe for a newborn?

If you plan to use a stroller while your baby is a newborn, you'll need to make sure that the stroller reclines — since newborns can't sit up or hold up their heads.

Some strollers fully recline or can be used with a bassinet attachment or an infant-only car seat. However, most umbrella strollers typically don't provide adequate head and back support for young babies.

Also, most jogging strollers aren't designed to recline. As a result, they aren't appropriate for babies until about age 6 months.

What are the benefits of a travel system?

If you have a car, you might look for a stroller that can hold your baby's car seat.

Some car seats and strollers come in matching sets, while others require separate attachments that allow the strollers to be used with certain car seats. Once you strap your baby into his or her car seat, these kinds of strollers will allow you to easily move your baby between the stroller and car.

These types of strollers can also be helpful in an airport, if you plan to take your baby's car seat on the plane.

If you use a travel system that allows you to move your baby's car seat from your vehicle to a stroller base, you might be tempted to let your baby finish car naps in his or her car seat. Keep in mind, though, a car seat is designed to protect your child during travel — not to serve as a replacement crib in your home. Although it's essential to buckle your child into a car seat during travel, don't let your child sleep or relax in the car seat for long periods of time out of the car.

Research suggests that sitting upright in a car seat might compress a newborn's chest and lead to lower levels of oxygen in a baby's blood. Even mild airway obstruction can impair a child's development.

Sitting in a car seat for lengthy periods can also contribute to the development of a flat spot on the back of your baby's head, as well as worsen any gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) — a chronic digestive disease.

What if my baby has special needs?

If your baby was born prematurely or has health concerns, look for a stroller with storage that will help you carry any necessary equipment, such as a cardiac monitor or oxygen. Parents of babies who have similar health concerns might be a good source of advice.

What other stroller safety features should I look for?

When looking for a stroller you might consider checking for certain safety features, including:

  • Practical brakes. Look for a stroller that has brakes that are easy to operate. Some strollers have brakes that lock two wheels — a special safety feature. Make sure your baby can't reach the brake release lever.
  • A wide base. Strollers that have wide bases are less likely to tip over.
  • A single footrest. If you're looking for a side-by-side double stroller, choose one with a single footrest that extends across both sitting areas. Small feet can get trapped between separate footrests.

How can I keep my baby safe in his or her stroller?

You can take steps to prevent stroller accidents. For example:

  • Stay close. Don't leave your baby unattended in his or her stroller.
  • Be careful with toys. If you hang toys from a stroller bumper bar to entertain your baby, make sure that the toys are securely fastened.
  • Buckle up. Always buckle your baby's harness and seat belt when taking him or her for a stroller ride.
  • Use your brakes. Engage your stroller brakes whenever you stop the stroller.
  • Properly store belongings. Don't hang a bag from the stroller's handle bar, which can make a stroller tip over. If possible, place items in the stroller basket.
  • Take caution when folding. Keep your baby away from the stroller as you open and fold it, since small fingers can get caught in stroller hinges. Always make sure the stroller is locked open before you put your child in it.
  • Keep it out of the sun. During hot weather, don't let your baby's stroller sit in the sun for long periods of time. This can cause plastic and metal pieces to become hot enough to burn your baby. If you do leave the stroller in the sun, check the stroller's surface temperature before placing your baby in the stroller.
  • Check for recalls. Be sure to return the stroller warranty card so that you'll be notified in case of a recall. If you're considering a used stroller for your baby, make sure the stroller hasn't been recalled.

Whether you're using it on a daily basis, for occasional errands or weekly jogs, a stroller can be a parenting must have. By consistently following safety rules, you can help ensure an enjoyable ride.

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