Look for the following safety features (found on all the models tested, unless specified):
The effectiveness of the brakes and their engagement is vital. Look for rear brakes on both wheels that are linked, so the left and right brakes can be activated by a single lever rather than applied individually. Get an idea of how well they work by applying the brakes and then trying to push the handle. Check that they actively lock into position. Brakes that are foot-operated or operated by a lever on the handle mean you don’t have to bend down, but make sure you can access them easily.
A five-point harness - consisting of two shoulder straps (attached to the backrest at shoulder level), a waist strap and a crotch strap - is best. The waist straps in particular should be securely linked to the stroller’s frame, so that the child can’t lean out and tilt the stroller. Give the harness a tug to check that the seat doesn't pull away from the frame. The straps should be adjustable (allowing for growth) and the buckles easy to use (for you, but not your child).
Look for front wheels that swivel to make manoeuvring easier, and that can be locked in the forward direction when travelling at higher speeds or over rough terrain. Large ones tend to be better on kerbs and stairs; pneumatic (inflatable) ones can puncture but generally give a comfier ride.
Also, check the following:
- Are there protruding parts that can hit your child’s head or small parts that can detach easily and pose a choking risk?
- Are there gaps that could trap your or your child's fingers? (Look especially around the release and folding mechanism areas).
- Are there sharp edges or points on any surfaces?
- Is there a child-resistant mechanism for locks?
- And is the stroller stable enough not to tip easily?