If you are a first-time mom, you may not be aware that using certain strollers can literally endanger your baby’s life. More experienced moms usually know it. And an article recently published in the journal Academic Pediatrics confirmed it. Every year in the United States, about 20,000 children under the age of 5 are taken to hospital emergency rooms with stroller-related injuries. These injuries range from mild bumps and bruises, most often to the head and face, to severe concussions and traumatic brain injuries. Boys under the age of 1 are those most often injured.
Why do these injuries occur? And are they due to badly designed products or to incorrect use? The study found that 60 to 65 percent of the injuries happened when children fell out of strollers and carriers – both the wearable type like Baby Bjorns and carriers with handles.
Just for stroller injuries, about 16 percent happened when a stroller tipped over, 9 percent when the child tripped over it, and 5 percent when the child got an arm or leg caught in it. From 1990 through 2010, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission issued 43 stroller-related recalls and 13 infant carrier-related recalls for injury risks that included falls, entrapment, strangulation or choking hazards, amputations, and lacerations. With so many recalls, you now understand why “newer is better.”
What type of stroller is safe for a newborn?
Since newborns are unable to sit up or hold up their heads, a stroller for a newborn must recline. Most umbrella strollers, however, 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.
How to use a stroller safely
- The stroller must have brakes that lock the wheels. Always use the brakes whenever you are stopped.
- Select a stroller with a wide base, so it won’t tip over.
- If the carseat “clicks” to a base with wheels, make sure it is appropriately assembled before you begin walking.
- Children’s fingers can become caught in the hinges that fold the stroller, so be careful when you open and close it. Make sure the stroller is securely locked open before putting your child in it. Check that your baby’s fingers cannot reach the stroller wheels.
- Don’t hang heavy items from the handles of the stroller! This is one of the most frequent reasons why strollers tip backward. Some strollers have a dedicated space underneath it to store items. Use it.
- Your child should always be buckled! No exceptions!
- Never leave your child unattended.
- Never let a child push the stroller.
- If you purchase a side-by-side twin stroller, be sure the footrest extends all the way across both sitting areas. A child’s foot can become trapped between separate footrests.
- There are also strollers that allow an older child to sit or stand in the rear. Be mindful of weight guidelines and especially careful that the child in the back doesn’t become overly active and tip the stroller.
- Be mindful of the weather. Intense heat, cold, sunshine, and rain, among other conditions, can make your baby very uncomfortable and, potentially, be dangerous.
- Do not text or use your cellphone while pushing a stroller or using a baby carrier. A split second of distraction can lead to a misstep, trip, or fall.