01.Stroller buying guide
Mandatory safety requirements
These requirements have applied to strollers since July 2008. These are based on key clauses of the full (voluntary) Australian standard, AS/NZS 2088:2000.
Strollers must have:
- Wrist tether straps — with a label warning the adult carer to use it — to help reduce the chance of a stroller rolling away.
- The brake pedals/levers must be red so they’re easily seen and more likely to be used.
- Always look for certification to the full Australian standard.
Please note: this information was current as of October 2009 but is still a useful guide to today's market.
What to look for
Three-wheelers tend to be wider, longer and heavier than four-wheelers and are usually heavier too. But they’re usually easier to push around, due to larger wheels (which are often on bearings so they pivot easily) and inflatable tyres that help absorb the bumps. However, this easier manoeuvrability can also make them more likely to roll away if left unattended. They can also be more prone to tipping, particularly when turning corners or mounting a kerb.
Four-wheelers , especially umbrella types, are not just more compact when in use, but also generally fold into a smaller package, so they can be a better option for public transport. Some models have two small wheels at the front and two large wheels at the rear, which can provide some of the advantages of both types — the stability of a four-wheeler with the manoeuvrability of a three-wheeler.
Swivelling front wheels make manoeuvring easier, but it’s useful if they can be locked for travelling at higher speeds or over rough terrain. Large wheels tend to be better on kerbs and stairs; inflatable wheels can puncture but generally give a comfier ride. Check the instructions for the recommended tyre pressure, and use a manual pump; service station pumps are too powerful for small stroller tyres (as one reader discovered to their cost when using a service station pump caused their Phil & Teds stroller wheel to shatter).
Size Measure the stroller to make sure it fits into your car boot without needing the wheels removed.
- Try folding and unfolding it in the shop to see if you can carry it comfortably.
Brakes Look for linked, foot-operated brakes on both rear wheels so the left and right brakes can be activated by a single action rather than applied individually. Apply the brakes, then push the handle to see if the stroller moves. Foot-operated brakes save you bending down, but make sure your feet fit under them easily; some need to be flipped up from below, plus low-lying pedals may interfere with walking.
Five-point harness Two shoulder straps (attached to the backrest at shoulder level), waist straps and a crotch strap. The waist straps in particular should be securely linked to the stroller’s frame so the child can’t lean out and tilt the stroller. Give the harness a tug to check the seat doesn't pull away from the frame. The straps should be adjustable to allow for growth and the buckles easy to use (for you, not your child). The mandatory standard allows harnesses without shoulder straps, but CHOICE believes a five-point harness is the best option.
And check for:
Protruding parts that can hit your child’s head, or small parts that can detach easily and pose a choking risk.
Gaps that could trap fingers – yours or your child’s.
Sharp edges or points.
- A child-resistant mechanism for locks.
Stability: is the stroller stable enough not to tip easily?
Other features worth considering
- An adjustable backrest that can move to at least one semi-reclined position. Most of the strollers on test have backrests that recline flat (or nearly flat) and so are suitable for babies under six months.
Reversible seat or handle lets you choose whether your child sits facing forward or facing you.
- A detachable front bar that the child can hold onto when seated upright. It can also serve as a barrier.
- A footrest reduces the likelihood of injury through the child's feet touching the ground or getting caught in the front wheel.
- An adjustable handle that can be adjusted to a comfortable height to suit different users.
- A canopy that can be extended to provide shade or shelter. Some have a viewing window so you can still see your child when it's extended.
Storage A basket or tray under the stroller for carrying things such as nappies, baby food or shopping. Some have a pouch behind the seat or other small pockets where you can keep small items.
The following features may not be provided as standard, but may be available as optional extras — check the instructions or ask your retailer.
Tyre pump A hand-operated pump for inflating tyres.
Leg cover An attachment you can pull over the child's legs in cold weather.
Rain cover A clear plastic sheet to drape over the stroller.
Insect cover A mesh cover to protect the child from nasties.
Removable liner This provides additional comfort and can also help support smaller babies.