It’s safety first when buying a stroller, because your children are precious.
But you also need a stroller that fits your lifestyle and is 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.
Our safety test
Safety is the most important part of our testing. We test each stroller against aspects of the Australia New Zealand standard (AS/NZS 2088:2013). These tests include checking stability and that the brakes work well; that there’s an adjustable five-point harness and no sharp edges or points; and that it’s safe and secure to fold.
Our testing is particularly important because compliance with the standard isn’t mandatory in New Zealand. It should be – the standard sets a clear and reasonable safety standard and we’d like all manufacturers constructing their strollers to it.
If you’ve got twins or two children close in age, a double stroller makes it easier to get out and about. Side-by-side models have the 2 seats next to each other; tandem strollers have 1 seat behind the other. Tandems are usually configured as a single stroller with a removable second seat. We asked members which they preferred.
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 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. Before buying a single stroller with a second seat, check the configurations and consider whether both children could comfortably fit at various ages and sizes. When we tested some single strollers with the second seat attached, some had major safety failures.
Tip: “Sometimes using a single stroller and a front pack is a lot more convenient.”
If you’re intending to run with your baby, look for a specialist jogging stroller with the following features:
- hand-operated brakes
- 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 and 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.
53 strollers tested
We test using the Australian and New Zealand standard, so you can choose a stroller with confidence.
Features and other considerations
Check whether the folded stroller will fit easily in your car boot – some three wheelers take up lots of space. Also try folding and unfolding it to see if you can carry it comfortably when folded.
If you want to use your stroller for a newborn, make sure it’s suitable. It will have either a seat that reclines far enough, or an accessory, such as a bassinet, so baby can lie flat. Some strollers can also have a car seat capsule mounted to them.
If you mainly stick to footpaths and the shops, a basic stroller will be fine. However, if you pound the countryside, look for a model with bigger wheels and suspension for a comfier ride. If you want to take your toddler along for your morning jog, get a model with suspension, hand-operated brakes and a lockable front wheel.
Check that the stroller complies with a safety standard. The joint Australia/New Zealand standard AS/NZS 2088 is the most common (although compliance isn’t mandatory). Other standards are the British BS 7409, European EN 1888 and US ASTM F833 standard.
3-wheelers are usually easier to push because of their larger wheels and some have inflatable tyres that help absorb bumps. But they’re often wider, longer and heavier than 4-wheelers. 3-wheelers are more manoeuvrable on uneven terrain but can be more prone to tipping when turning corners or mounting kerbs. 4-wheelers are more compact and are a better option if you use public transport.
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.
Some strollers have a separate brake on each wheel. However, brakes activated by a single linking bar are much more convenient.
Look for a backrest that can be reclined for a sleeping child.
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.
This reduces the likelihood of injury by the child's feet getting caught on the ground or in the front wheel.
A leash on the handlebar 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.
One of these is useful when there’s an older sibling – check whether it can be fitted to the stroller.
This is used for pneumatic tyres. It's supplied with some models or may be available as an optional extra.
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 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.
Before buying a buggy board (or a scooter that attaches to a stroller), check that it’ll fit your stroller and whether you need to buy connectors.
Safe buggy boarding and other things to consider
- 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.
- 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.
- Look for one that’s easy to attach and detach. Some require some effort because their release mechanisms are difficult to reach.
- 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.