Whether it's your first child or you just need a new stroller for your growing family, we know that a pram or stroller is one of the most important purchases you'll make for your child. Get it right and you'll have a safe stroller that's easy to use and not too heavy to lift and pack away. Get it wrong and you'll be left with a clunky piece of equipment that'll put a strain on family outings.
We've assessed many strollers over the years and our expert testers have more than 15 years' experience testing the quality and safety of various children's products.
Our current crop of expert testers have seen all manner of stroller brands, types and features roll through our labs, and they've put each one to the test to determine which ones are safest for your child and easy for you to use.
On top of this, our testers sit on the Australian Standards committee for prams and strollers, so we keep up to date with any changes. Our lab is NATA-accredited to test strollers against this standard.
Why do we choose one pram or stroller to test over another? There are a number of reasons for this, but our priority is to test what you'll see in stores. This means we usually focus on big brand models that are commonly available in major retailers.
That doesn't mean we won't test smaller players – when we see something new and interesting come onto the market, we're likely to put it to the test. This includes a number of online-only brands which have proved popular. We keep an eye on what's in stores, we survey manufacturers to find out about their range of models, and we also check whether members have requested to have specific models tested.
Once a list is put together it goes to our buyers, who go out and use your member funds to buy the strollers and prams from a variety of retailers. We buy products just like you would, so we can be sure they're the same as any consumer would find them and not 'tweaked' in any way for better performance.
Safety is a vital part of our testing and our testers check various aspects of safety based on the Australian standard AS/NZS 2088:2013, including that:
- harness straps are adjustable and of adequate length (so that the harness fits correctly and is free from strangulation risks and other hazards)
- the child is securely restrained; there are no gaps they can slip through and the buckle is not too easy to undo
- the folding mechanisms are safe and secure
- there are no sharp edges or possible entrapment points for fingers or limbs (either for the child in the pram, or an adult folding/unfolding the pram)
- the pram has good stability and the brakes work well.
Rolling rig test
New brands of strollers that come into our labs are tested on our very own 'rolling road'. Each pram is placed on this rolling road rig for 64 hours at a speed of 5km/h, as per the Australian standard. We rarely see prams fail this test so now we only conduct it on brands we haven't tested before. Three-wheel strollers that look like they might be used for jogging are tested for a further 10 hours at 10km/h to see how they stand up to faster speeds.
Kerb mounting test
We also have a machine that continuously simulates the action of mounting a kerb, which each stroller is subjected to. These tests show whether anything breaks, falls off or stops working properly after regular use. We conduct this test on all models we review.
Ease of use
To assess ease of use, our testers check and rate:
- ease of using the adjustments, such as the reclining functions and the safety harness
- how easy it is to load and unload the basket
- how easy it is to use the brakes and lock the front wheels
- how easy it is to fold and unfold the prams
- how easy it is to push them over rough terrain, up and down stairs, and through doorways
- how easily they fit into the boot of a family car.
We rate children's products a bit differently to other product tests. Since children's products require a strong emphasis on safety and we test according to Australian or international safety standards, we rate them according to whether they pass or fail the standard. CHOICE Recommended models pass all key safety tests.
Prams or strollers that are recommended have passed all our safety and durability tests. They may have some very minor failures – areas or elements that don't meet the Australian standard but are not significant enough failures to affect the recommendation (for example, not meeting information labelling requirements).
- No failures: 100%
- Very minor failures: 80%
- One minor failure and no serious failures: 65%
- Multiple minor failures but no serious failures: 60%
- One serious failure: 40%
- More than one serious failure: 20%
Models worth considering
Prams and strollers that are worth considering pass all the key safety and durability tests, but may have some minor safety failures such as finger entrapment hazards. Their performance score will fall in the 60–65% range.
Prams and strollers that are not recommended have at least one serious safety hazard and will have a performance score of 40% or less. Serious safety failures can include detachable small parts, snagging/strangulation hazards, or limb or head entrapment hazards. Some hazards might only arise from incorrect use.
Safety and durability tests
Strollers and prams can only pass or fail these tests.
Ease of use score
This test score is made up of:
- various adjustments (safety harness, seat recline and more) (25%)
- loading and unloading the basket, using the swivel wheel lock, applying and releasing the brakes (25%)
- manoeuvring through doors, up and down stairs, turning a tight corner, going over rough terrain (25%)
- unfolding, folding and carrying, including fitting into a car boot (25%).
We maintain a lab that is up to date with the latest reference machines and calibrated measurement tools for our testers to bring you the right results.
Convertible tricycle strollers (that start off as a stroller and progress to a trike) must also adhere to safety standards. We test and rate these slightly differently to 'dedicated' prams, basing our performance scores on whether the tricycle stroller meets mandatory safety and design requirements (AS/NZS 2088:2000 CPN 8 of 2007).
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.