Stroller safety: Tips for parents

Stroller safety starts with choosing the right stroller for your baby. Know what to consider when looking for a stroller and how to keep your baby safe on the go.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If you're like most parents, you'll likely 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 a sturdy stroller to maneuver along sidewalks. You might also need to be able to collapse your stroller in a pinch to get on a bus or subway. Suburban parents might want a stroller that's easy to fold and fits into the trunk of a vehicle.
  • Your family. If you have an older child, you might want a double stroller or a stroller with an attachment for an older child. If you'll be using an attachment, be sure to read the manufacturer's weight guidelines.
  • Your lifestyle. An umbrella stroller might be useful for running errands or traveling. 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 a storage basket, rain cover, blanket, sun shade or cup holder? Some strollers aren't compatible with certain accessories.

What type of stroller is safe for a newborn?

If you plan to use a stroller for your newborn, 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. 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.

What do I need to know about travel systems?

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.

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 the car seat. However, research suggests that sitting upright in a car seat might compress a newborn's chest and lead to lower levels of oxygen in the blood. Even mild airway obstruction can impair a child's development. Experts suggest not letting your child sleep or relax in the car seat for more than two hours.

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.

June 18, 2015 See more In-depth