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Strollers

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Which ones are safe and easy to use?

You want your stroller to be safe, because your children are precious. So we test strollers using the Australian and New Zealand standard. But you also need a stroller that’s easy to use so we also assess how easy they are to load, adjust, push, fold and carry. Using our results, you can choose a stroller with confidence.

From our test

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Features

Consider these features if you're buying a stroller.

  • Safety: Check that the stroller complies with a safety standard. The joint Australia/New Zealand standard AS/NZS 2088 is the most common. Other standards are the British BS 7409, European EN 1888 and US ASTM F833 standard.
  • Wheel numbers: 3-wheelers are usually wider and longer than 4-wheelers and are often heavier; they’re more manoeuvrable on uneven terrain but can be less stable. 4-wheelers are more compact and are a better option if you use public transport.
  • Wheels: Large wheels tend to be better on kerbs and stairs. Inflatable tyres help absorb bumps. Swivel front wheels make steering easier – but make sure you can lock them, to keep the stroller stable up and down steps and over rough terrain.
  • Brakes: Some strollers have a separate brake on each wheel. However, brakes activated by a single linking bar are much more convenient.
  • Backrest: Look for a backrest that can be reclined for a sleeping child.
  • Storage: A parcel tray under the stroller is essential. Never balance bags on the handle of a stroller – they could make it tip over.
  • Hoods and covers: An extendable hood provides shade and shelter. A viewing window in the hood lets you keep an eye on your child. A boot cover protects the child’s legs and feet: it’s worth considering if you go for long walks in cold weather. If the stroller you want doesn’t have a rain cover, you can buy a generic one at most stores.
  • Front bar or tray: Make sure it's removable when lifting the child in and out of the stroller.
  • Footrest: This reduces the likelihood of injury by the child's feet getting caught on the ground or in the front wheel.
  • Safety leash: A leash on the handle bar that straps to your wrist can stop the stroller running away if you lose your grip. Keep it out of the way of the child as it's a strangulation hazard.
  • Toddler seats: One of these is useful when there’s an older sibling – check whether it can be fitted to the stroller.
  • Tyre pump: This is used for pneumatic tyres. It's supplied with some models or may be available as an optional extra.

Buying advice

Take these steps before buying your stroller.

  • Talk to friends and ask if you can test-drive their strollers. Ask them which accessories are useful and which are a waste of money.
  • Make sure you try out the stroller in the store before you buy, preferably with a passenger aboard.
  • Check – if you can – what it’s like for going up and down stairs. You may need a model with height-adjustable handles if there’s more than 1 adult who’ll be pushing the stroller.
  • Size and convenience may be an issue. Check that the stroller will fit in your car boot. Also fold and unfold the stroller and see if you can carry it comfortably with 1 hand – and whether there’s a clip to hold the stroller closed when folded.
  • If you're buying second-hand, check that the wheels are secure and not worn out, and that the brakes and locks work properly.
  • If you’re buying second-hand online and can’t check the stroller ask if it complies with a safety standard.

Jogging strollers

If you’re intending to run with your baby, look for a specialist jogging stroller with the following features:

  • hand-operated brakes
  • suspension
  • a lockable front wheel.

Before joining you on a run, your baby should be at least 6 months old and be able to hold their head up without support.

Sue Campbell, Plunket’s National Child Safety Advisor offers these tips:

  • Your jogging stroller must have all components in excellent order: the brakes, locking mechanism and a full harness to hold your child.
  • Keep bags off the handles as these can affect the balance of the stroller
  • Keep a hand on the stroller at all times.
  • Consider choosing a time to go out jogging when your child is due to sleep, this can be less stressful for you both! Take a drink and snacks for your child and think about your running route. You may want to stop at a play area so your child can get out and play, then get back in and continue on.
  • Always use the harness in the stroller, it is going to prevent your child being thrown out. If your baby is too small to have the harness fitting correctly then don’t take baby, the harness must fit to keep them safe. Once they are over 6 months old, their position in the stroller will be better.
  • Your stroller should have a tether strap to place around your wrist. This will help prevent the stroller running away if you stop. It is surprising how fast a stroller can move, you will have difficulty stopping it.
  • Lock the front wheel when jogging, this helps keep the stroller stable and prevents the wheel turning suddenly.
  • Have a sunshade and sunscreen to reduce the risk of sunburn.

Side-by-side or tandem strollers?

Side-by-side double strollers have the 2 seats next to each other; tandem strollers have 1 seat behind the other. We asked members which they preferred.

Side-by-side strollers

Our members liked side-by-side strollers for outdoors but not for supermarkets: “I often find I get stuck in the aisles.” Side-by-sides can certainly be difficult to fit through doorways or along supermarket aisles (the ones in our test were 75cm or 79cm wide). They’re also bulky to fold up and transport – you need to have a car with a large boot.

On the plus side, children enjoy sitting side-by-side: “They often hold hands and chat to each other a lot.” And both children get a “front seat” view.

Tandem strollers

Tandem strollers are better for shopping because they’re narrower than the side-by-side. But their extra length can make them harder to steer and to negotiate steps and kerbs. And if you’ve got 2 newborns, you’ll need both seats to be fully reclinable – which means some tandem strollers won’t be suitable.

Some parents believe tandems are not so good for children: “the kid in the back gets a raw deal on the view”. And kids may even become quite grumpy … “when the baby was about 6 months old he discovered he could kick his brother in front”. But another told us they’re good with a toddler and a newborn as the baby can lie flat while the toddler sits up high.

Second seats can be attached behind or in front of the main seat of a single stroller – effectively turning them into a tandem stroller.

Tip: “Sometimes using a single stroller and a front pack is a lot more convenient.”

Compare all the strollers in our test.

About our tests

In our stroller safety assessment, we look for hazards to the child and the carer using the stroller. We check the adjustment and security of harness straps and buckles, looking for gaps where a child’s head or one of their limbs could be trapped. We look for sharp edges or points that may cause injury. We operate the folding mechanism and check locking devices that stop the stroller folding with the child in it. We also check the stability of the stroller and operation of its brakes.

To test durability we put the strollers on a bumpy “rolling road” machine for 64 hours at a speed of 5km/h. Jogging strollers get an extra 10 hours at 10km/h on the rolling road. We also attach each stroller to a machine that continuously simulates the action of mounting a kerb.

Major failures include insufficient child retention, strangulation hazards, poor stability (tipping), head entrapment hazards and structural durability failures. Minor failures include less serious examples of major failure conditions, plus tether strap failures, insufficient locking device security, and finger/limb entrapment hazards.

We won’t recommend a stroller if it has a major safety or durability failure.

To assess ease of use we put the strollers through their paces in real life. We check how easy it is to adjust the safety harness, seats and handle. We look at how easy it is to apply the brakes, lock the front (swivel) wheels and access the bottom basket. We push them over rough terrain, up and down stairways and through doorways. We fold and unfold each stroller, carry them and lift them into and out of a car boot.

To earn our recommendation, a stroller must have no ease of use components (adjusting, loading, moving or carrying) lower than ‘OK’.

The standards

Our tests are based on the Australian and New Zealand standard for prams and strollers (AS/NZS 2088:2013).

The 2009 revision of this standard added a requirement that the harness straps shouldn't be a strangulation hazard when they're buckled together. This followed a fatal case in 2005 when a child slipped through such a gap and was caught. The buckled-together harness straps are especially hazardous if:

  • A child's left unattended in the stroller.
  • The harness is kept buckled when it's not in use.

The 2013 standard is largely the same as the 2009 version - but it's been extended to cover finger entrapment, crushing/scissoring hazards for adult users (or for children outside the stroller) and stability. There's also further emphasis on harness requirements.

While compliance with this standard is not mandatory in New Zealand, we think it should be. We believe AS/NZS 2088:2013 sets a clear and reasonable safety standard. We’d like to see all manufacturers constructing their strollers to the updated standard – as some of them already do. In Australia, compliance with some requirements of AS/NZS 2088 is compulsory.

Safety features

There is a safety standard for prams and strollers but it is not mandatory.

Certification involves independent checks of the manufacturer's production line and quality-control processes.

A buggy that is "certified" as complying with the standard will display either the New Zealand "S" mark or the red Australian "tick" mark. If the stroller doesn't carry either of these labels, it's not necessarily unsafe. But check that:

  • There are no protruding parts that can hit your child's head.
  • There are no small parts that could detach easily and pose a choking hazard.
  • There are no gaps that could trap fingers - yours or your child's.
  • There are no sharp edges or points.
  • The stroller is stable enough not to tip easily.
  • There is a child-resistant mechanism for locks.
  • There's a 5-point harness consisting of 2 shoulder straps attached to the backrest, 2 waist straps attached to the stroller frame, and a crotch strap. The straps should be adjustable.
  • The brakes work properly and are easy to use.
  • There is a 2-stage lock to stop the stroller collapsing.

Buggy boards

Buggy boards attach to the back of a single (or double) stroller.

They're ideal for older toddlers who are happy to walk for most of the time but want a break now and again – they can jump on to the buggy board and have a rest from all that walking.

We tested 6 buggy boards for safety and ease of use. Become a Gold or Silver member to find out how they rated.

Safe buggy boarding

Tips for using a buggy board.

  • Your child must be old enough to stand steadily while holding on to the stroller.
  • Check your child will have enough room to stand comfortably (and hang on) when they’re on the board.
  • The board could interfere with your pace and with the way you push the stroller.
  • Your child will need to get off the board when you’re going over steps or kerbs.
  • Make sure you can still reach any foot-operated brakes on the stroller. The Lascal Maxi BuggyBoard, Silver Cross Surf Board and Valco Baby Vee Bee EZ Rider boards obstructed access to the stroller’s brake pedal.
  • Check the board will fit your stroller. Some fit a range of strollers and may only require different attachment mechanisms; others only fit a certain brand or model.
  • Look for a board that won’t need to be removed when you want to fold the stroller. The Baby Jogger Glider Board and Bugaboo Wheeled Board didn’t have to be removed.
  • Look for one that’s easy to attach and detach. The Bugaboo and Lascal boards are very easy. But the Valco Baby Vee Bee EZ Rider board and the Mountain Buggy Freerider scooter require some effort – their release mechanisms are difficult to reach.

Buggy boards test results

Become a Gold or Silver member to view our test results.

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