Baby Safety: Stroller And Stroller Toy Safety

Strollers are on most families' must-have list of baby equipment. Find out how to purchase a good one and use it safely with these tips and instructions.

Baby strollers can be a great convenience to families with infants and young children. They allow the family to enjoy outings together that would be inconvenient or even impossible with a baby that must be carried constantly. Shopping, a trip to the zoo, or a walk in the park all become more convenient and more pleasant when the baby has a stroller to ride in. However, there are many safety considerations that parents must understand when purchasing and using a baby stroller.

Purchasing the right stroller for your infant or toddler is very important. Check the manufacturer's weight, height and age recommendations to be sure that the stroller you are considering matches the needs of your infant or toddler. It is unsafe to put an infant in a stroller intended for toddlers or to allow a toddler to ride in a stroller that was meant for younger babies. It is also important to assess the stroller's overall construction and the materials with which it is made. The construction should be sturdy and the fabric surfaces must be washable. Metal strollers are less likely to break, but products with plastic parts are lighter weight. You will want to choose the best combination for your circumstances. Many strollers convert between a seated and a reclining position. Check carefully to be sure that the stroller will not tip backwards when the baby is in the reclined position and that the mechanism that allows the conversion locks securely into each position.

A safe stroller has a wide base. This will make it less likely to tip when the child wiggles, leans over, or rolls around. It is also important to consider whether you need a basket or container on the stroller to hold packages, jackets, or the diaper bag. If you choose a stroller with a basket, be sure that the container is low on the back of the stroller or directly over the rear wheels. A container like this will lessen the temptation to hang coats, bags, or other things on the handles of the stroller. Hanging items such as these from the handles can cause the stroller to tip unexpectedly.

Many strollers are designed to fold for convenient storage and transport. A quality stroller will have a locking mechanism to prevent it from folding unexpectedly with your child inside. It will also lock in its folded position so that it does not come unfolded when you do not want it to. Always use extra caution with folding strollers to ensure that your child's fingers are not near the mechanism when you are operating it. Children have been injured when their fingers were caught in these types of mechanisms.

It is important to make sure the stroller's safety strap is right for your child, too. A good strap is fastened securely to the frame of the stroller. It should be easily adjustable and easy to fasten and unfasten for an adult (but not for the baby). A three-point security system (lap belt with crotch strap) is a must because babies can easily slide or wiggle out of lap belts alone. A five-point system (with straps over the shoulders) is even safer, and must be used if you are considering a jogging stroller. It is vital that the child is buckled in securely without fail. No child can truly be safe in a stroller unless buckled in.

The brakes are also important safety features. Be sure that the stroller has brakes that are easy to operate and to set. The brakes should hold the stroller in place even on an incline with a child seated. They should keep the stroller from rolling in all circumstances.

Finally, if you choose a stroller with a handset (a bar across the end for baby to hold onto when sitting), be sure that the hole below the handset closes up when the seat is reclined for sleeping. Many strollers convert from a seated to a reclining position so that young children can ride sitting up or lying down. The holes where the child's legs go when sitting can be a hazard when the child lies down or sleeps, so be sure that there is a way to close this gap. If you leave it open, the child may fall through or might get his or her head caught in the opening.

Even the safest stroller must be used properly in order to be used safely. There are a number of safety rules for the adults using the stroller to follow so that the child might be kept as safe as possible.

Always use the belts and harnesses that the stroller has. Never leave the child unattended in the stroller, and never allow the child to play on or in the stroller. Be sure that the child is away from the folding mechanism when you set up or collapse the stroller. When moving baby from stroller to car seat or car seat to stroller, make sure the baby is secured in one or the other at all times. Do not take baby out of the car seat until after the stroller is set up. Do not store the stroller until after the baby is fastened into the car seat.

Avoid hanging bags, coats or other items on the handles of the stroller, as this can cause the stroller to tip. Use the container or basket instead. Do not put unsafe items, such as plastic bags, purses, or diaper bags, into the seat or carriage compartments where the baby can reach them. Always use the frame locking device and the positional locking device when the stroller is open and in use to prevent it from folding up on the baby.

Use care when you have the stroller in the parking lot or on the street. Keep it next to you when you unlock the car. Do not push the stroller into the street until it is safe to cross. Never leave the stroller unattended in areas with moving cars. Always set the brakes when the stroller will be stationary for a period of time.

If you choose to use a jogging stroller, be certain to buckle your child into a five-point harness (one that includes shoulder straps). Use a properly-fitted bicycle helmet when taking baby jogging. Jogging strollers are equipped with a wrist strap to prevent the stroller from getting away, so be sure to use that. Pediatricians and other safety experts agree that infants must be at least twelve months of age and have good head and neck control before riding in a jogging stroller. The ride is too rough for younger infants and could cause them injury.

You and your child can have many great outings together if you choose the stroller that matches your needs and use it wisely. Strollers can be a great gift, but you must be sure to match the stroller with the family's needs and evaluate it carefully for vital safety features.

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