Earlier this week, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced a major recall of Maclaren strollers. The stroller recall serves as a reminder that parents need to be ever vigilant when it comes to baby gear. Up to 1 million strollers were voluntarily recalled after discovering the amputation and laceration risk they pose to kids' fingers. Visit the Parents.com Product Recall Finder to find out more about this alert and other dangerous products that have been pulled from shelves.
But the recall brings up a larger issue: Who can you trust when it comes to your baby's safety? We asked Jamie Schaefer-Wilson to give us some pointers on picking out the right stroller. In addition to authoring the Consumer Reports book Guide to Childproofing & Safety, Schaefer-Wilson is also the manager of the National School Safety Alert Program and the owner of several strollers for her two daughters.
Think twice about secondhand
We all want a deal. Strollers are expensive, which makes it tempting to want to go on eBay or take a gently used one from a family member or friend. If you're going to go this route, it's important to check to see if the stroller has been recalled, and find out as much history about it as you can.
Determine your own personal needs
Do you live in the city? The suburbs? Do you need something zippy to navigate the streets, or something collapsible to carry in the car? How much will you carry in the stroller's basket? How much are you willing to spend? These are all questions to ask yourself to determine the kind of stroller will best fit your own life.
Know the weight limit
There are many types of strollers, and all of them have different weight limits. Make sure you know the limit and strictly adhere to it.
Once you know what you're looking for, most of your work can be done before you reach the store. Look at resources such as Consumer Reports to learn about safety, ease of use, maneuverability, durability, and price.
What to look at while shopping
See how easy the stroller is to collapse and open. Also, test how easy it is to use the harness system. Carry it to see how portable it is. If you're going to be flying frequently, does your umbrella stroller have a strap for easy carrying? Will the basket underneath fit your needs? Is the height comfortable? What about the weight?
Always use the harness system
Kids get squirmy, bumps happen, unexpected curves crop up. Many injuries associated with strollers involve a child falling out of it. It's a lot easier to buckle your child in than it is to make a trip to the emergency room, so make the harness system a part of your routine. If you don't make a big deal out of it, neither will your child.
Always use the brakes
If you come to a stop with your stroller, put on the brakes -- no matter what.
Make sure it's locked before it's loaded
Put your stroller in the fully locked position before you strap in your child. And keep children at a distance while you're opening and folding the stroller.
Never hang heavy objects on stroller handles
Strollers were not made to support anything dangling from the handles. Find a stroller with a basket underneath it to hold your diaper bag, purse, shopping items, or other things you need to carry. If you put these items on the stroller handles, the stroller will tip over.
Read the instructions
A lot of thought goes into the instructions on a stroller, and they are there to keep the owner informed. Instructions give you the greatest insight into your stroller and tips on how to keep your child safe.
More stroller information on Parents.com: