The new standard for strollers
Following the tragic death of two babies in separate stroller incidents, the Federal Government announced a new mandatory consumer product safety standard for strollers, which will take effect on 1 July 2008. The new standard is based on the voluntary Australian/NZ standard, with some modifications:
- All strollers must have a wrist tether strap (‘leash’), to prevent the stroller from rolling away.
- The stroller harness will require only waist and crotch straps (to be in line with the US and European standards). CHOICE thinks the current five-point harness provides better safety.
- Brakes will be coloured red for better visibility (which won’t work as well on red strollers, of course).
This standard was announced mid-2007, so that manufacturers would have plenty of time to modify their strollers.
Are three or four wheels safer?
A poll on the CHOICE website asks parents to identify any safety problems they’d encountered with their three or four-wheel strollers. At the time of publishing this report, there were 111 respondents who who own, or previously owned a four-wheel stroller and 171 who own or previously owned a three-wheeler,
- Of the four-wheel stroller owners, 40% had ever experienced a problem with it. 62% of three-wheel stroller owners had encountered problems with it.
- The most common problem for three-wheelers was tipping dangerously or toppling over with a child inside (22%). For four-wheel strollers, 14% had the same problem.
- 12% of three-wheel owners said the stroller had also rolled away unexpectedly when not held, compared to only 3% of four-wheeler owners.
Pros and cons
For manoeuvrability, style and the flexibility of being able to jog with your stroller (although some manufacturers are backing away from recommending this), a three-wheeler is a good option. However, their increased manoeuvrability can also make them more prone to rolling away and they can also be less stable than their four-wheel counterparts and more prone to tipping.
Four-wheelers, on the whole, are more compact, easier to fit into a car boot and not quite as wide as three-wheelers, which makes it easier to fit them through narrow doorways and down supermarket aisles.
Some also come with a reversible handle or seat, so you have the choice of the baby facing you or looking straight ahead. (The Love n Care Delta and Stokke Xplory have this feature.)
Regardless of the stroller you choose, it’s important to keep the following in mind:
- Never leave your child unattended in a stroller.
- Always engage the brake when the stroller is standing, to prevent rolling.
- When at a train station, park the stroller with the wheels parallel to the tracks.
- Use a leash or wrist tether strap to keep the stroller attached to you.
- Don’t hang heavy bags from the handles, to avoid tipping.