How hard could it be, right? You put the baby in and you go for a walk. What are the chances of something happening that could hurt your baby? Actually, there are several things and we’ll take a few moments and run through them here.
First, Choose the Right Stroller
I’ve got a whole page dealing with the different types of baby strollers, and how there are different strollers for different needs, and different strollers for different ages. For example, if you’re shopping for a stroller for your newborn, you likely shouldn’t be looking at umbrella strollers. For a newborn, consider some of the newer model lightweight strollers that fully recline and can accept a car seat. You can also find strollers that have multiple reclining positions, including flat, so that would be a good choice for an infant.
Slow and Steady
If you had a difficult pregnancy, been housebound, or for whatever reason just want to get back into your exercise routine, remember that most jogging strollers, and even all-terrain strollers, are not suitable for babies younger than six months of age. Having said that, there are some that do have adapters that will allow you to attach an infant car seat to them. Still, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to run while pushing your newborn in the stroller. Current guidelines typically state that it’s not advisable to run with a child in the stroller until they are at least a year old. By this time, they’ve developed a better control of their head and neck muscles. And the only strollers that are suitable for running are jogging strollers, unless the manufacturer has clearly stated that running while using their stroller is acceptable. And don’t rely on the retailer to have everything correctly categorized. If you want a jogging stroller or stroller that’s been adapted for jogging, make sure you check the manufacturer’s documentation.
Take the Time to Practice
While you might be anxious to get your new stroller set up so you can take your child for its first ride, do yourself a favor and try out all of the features before hand. Make sure you’re able to operate everything without the child in the stroller. Can you adjust the backrest with ease? Adjust the recline? Can you easily buckle the restraint system? Have you read the manual and determined how to correctly attach your infant car seat, if that’s one of the features? Make sure you can comfortably and confidently operate the stroller before placing your infant inside and going for a walk.
Beware of Used Baby Strollers
Take some time and do a little due diligence before accepting a hand me down stroller from a family member or neighbor, or buying a used one from the classifieds. First, make sure there’s been no recalls on it. There are several databases you can check to find out about recalls or defect investigations. And even if there is no questionable history on a specific stroller, keep in mind that older baby strollers may not meet current safety standards, and may be lacking some of the conveniences that you would find on a newer stroller.
Open with Caution
When opening your stroller, be sure that it’s fully locked into position. Wait for the sound of a snap that lets you know the lock is engaged. Should you put your child in the stroller that’s not fully locked into position, you put them in danger of having the stroller close around them, or getting a finger wedged in a still open hinge. That may just pinch them, but they could also lose a finger. Any stroller that doesn’t have some sort of fabric over the hinges is probably a stroller you want to avoid.
You wouldn’t drive around without buckling your child into their car seat, so follow this practice when they’re in their stroller. They should be snugly buckled in every time they are in the stroller. And this doesn’t just apply to infants — your older children should be buckled in as well, whether awake or asleep. It doesn’t take a lot of force to bounce an unharnessed baby out of their stroller. A bump or pothole could have them flying face forward into the ground.
Stairs and Escalators
I see this all the time, but trying to navigate the stairs or an escalator with your baby in the stroller is a recipe for disaster. If you have a choice between an escalator and a ramp, it should be obvious to you to use the ramp. If there are no alternatives, and you must use an escalator, get another adult to help you, with one of you in the front and one of you it back. Stairs are equally difficult, and you really should take your child out and carry it, and the folded stroller.
Proper Wheel Alignment
Keep your stroller maintained, and make sure the wheels are properly aligned and tightened. Don’t use a baby stroller that has a loose wheel, and make sure that when the baby is on board, all four wheels — or three as the case may be — sit solidly on the floor. Some strollers have removable wheels, which will allow you to replace them if necessary.
Use the Brake
Your stroller has a break for a good reason. It doesn’t take a lot to have it roll away from you. Get into the habit of setting the break every time you take your hands off the stroller, regardless of what you’re doing.
Down for the Night/Down for a Nap
Many strollers come with a bassinet for your infant, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe for you to use as a bassinet in your home. Check the manufacturer’s guidelines to determine whether or not it has been approved for in-home use.
Handlebars Are for Your Hands
Resist the urge to use the handlebars as hangers. You might be tempted to hang shopping bags or purses over the handles, but that could overbalance the stroller and have it tip over backward. If you often have things to carry while pushing your child, make sure you choose a stroller that has a large capacity basket. Use that to store your things. Another alternative is a backpack.