Top marks for innovation – but does it stack up for safety?
Ever found yourself struggling to unfold or fold a stroller – maybe with one hand, while you carry your (squirming, screaming, and/or sticky) child in the other? Then a pram that folds and unfolds at the push of a button may sound like the answer to your problems.
We check out the first self-folding stroller, the 4Moms Origami stroller, suitable for children from six months of age.
A new kind of stroller
The 4Moms Origami stroller has the features you'd expect on an expensive stroller: cup holders, several storage pockets and a bag, and several fabric colour options.
It also has features we've not seen before on a stroller: LED headlights, an LCD dashboard that tracks your speed, distance travelled, battery charge remaining and even the current temperature, plus a recharging port for smartphones (you'll need the optional adapter cable for that).
Most notably, it has a battery-powered motor that neatly and quickly folds and unfolds the stroller.
The self-folding origami pram is innovative, but also has some potential hazards.
Ease of use
The 4Moms Origami stroller is generally easy to use – the folding and unfolding is as simple as it gets, and the brake foot pedal is easy to operate. However, the stroller feels a bit shaky, particularly on rough terrain. It's very heavy; at just under 16kg, it's the heaviest single seat stroller we've encountered. Even most double strollers weigh less. As a result, the Origami can be a real challenge to lift in and out of a car boot. It does have small luggage-style wheels built in so it's reasonably easy to roll it around when folded.
The rear wheels recharge the battery as you push the stroller along. This is a good idea though the faint whine from the wheels may be a little annoying.
The stroller is suitable for children from six months of age up to a maximum weight of 17kg. The seat doesn't recline very far so it's not very useful for sleeping children, and isn't reversible. The stroller is compatible with the Graco Snugride baby capsule, but that doesn't appear to be sold in Australia.
Unfortunately, while the Origami passes almost all our safety and durability tests, we found some potentially major hazards:
- The folding actuator is a dual action device on the stroller handle; you twist the dial then push the button, so it's unlikely you could accidentally fold the stroller, and in any case there's a sensor in the seat that prevents the stroller from folding when a child is in it. However, the mechanism takes very little force to operate so it would be easy for an inquisitive child to try the mechanism for themselves. The dial has a lock switch to help prevent that, but the lock would also be easy to spot and undo.
- The Origami has a manual mode so you can still fold and unfold it if the battery is flat. But the manual switch is inconvenient to access (it's not intended for everyday use) and we think a safety key lock to turn the Origami completely off would be a good feature, so that you can prevent kids playing with the stroller when it's not in use, but quickly reactivate it when you need to.
- If a child did manage to fold the stroller, the next and potentially more serious hazard could take effect. As it folds, the Origami stroller has potential crushing hazards between the centre column and the seat, and between the centre column and wheel struts. A limb or hand could be caught and pinched or crushed at these points. (See the video above.) This would only happen through misuse – you should keep your hands as clear as possible when folding any stroller and you shouldn't let kids play with a stroller – but accidents happen and once the Origami starts folding, it folds fast and there's no way to stop it.
The 4Moms Origami stroller is an innovative and eye-catching stroller. However, it is expensive, heavy and has some safety drawbacks. It's not a hazard when used sensibly, but the potential is there for serious injury to an inquisitive child or careless adult. While it's impressive in many ways, we don't recommend this stroller.