Stroller Safety 101
By Donna • July 5, 2017 • Blog Articles
Why stroller safety is important
If you are a runner or not, you will need to know all there is about stroller safety. Our little kids are the most precious little beings we want to protect from any harm. When using a stroller for either jogging or just casual walks there are safety measures that must be considered at all times.
Have you watched or seen the news lately? More and more horror stories are getting out with strollers that were not secured properly, running off and falling onto train tracks or busy streets. This is a terrifying thing to imagine as a fresh parent. We want to avoid this from happening at all cost! Hence this is why safety is so important.
Below I have compiled an article with the most important aspects with regards to keeping your kid safe in any kind of stroller. Please feel free to add any comment below this article if you have anything to add. We all share a common goal here. Keeping our kids out of harm’s way.
Stroller safety tips
Making your jogging stroller safe for infants is priority number one. My personal tips for you in order to put safety first. These points are not in order of priority. I consider them all more or less equally important.
You are the parent. You are responsible for not only yourself but also of your infant. In early their years they just don’t know any better and will try all sorts of stuff such as jumping out of the stroller or chariot. You will need to try to anticipate possible scenarios and, ideally, prepare for them. In reality, you will never be able to think about everything. The little ones are usually also particularly creative. They will find ways to put themselves in harm’s way you would never have thought possible.
Be alert and aware
One of my all-time favorite TV quotes from Friends has got to be Ross. He refers to the state of total awareness as “Unagi.” The Japanese word means eel. Yummy! But jokes aside I hope you know where I’m getting at. Be aware of where you are and what moving objects could cross your path when out and about.
A significant difficulty is navigating sidewalks in urban or suburban areas, mainly when the sidewalk is busy. Other fellow people tend to be oblivious to the fact that you are pushing around more than 50 or more pounds and can’t evade as quickly as they can. Being considerate is even less frequent especially the more you go to urban areas. Everybody is preoccupied with their phones and don’t also pay attention to whats going on in front of their faces. I call them Phone Zombies. You need to think of them. Look how they walk and anticipate where they are going. I can’t recall how many times a Zombie walked into my stroller and in worst case waking up my sleeping boy.
If you cross the street, do it safely and watch the pavement for cracks and debris obstructing your path. You can buy strollers with adjustable suspensions. These shock absorbers give you with a much smoother ride and lower vibration and tremors on the stroller. Having pneumatic air-filled wheels is an additional suspension that will improve your experience for the better.
Learn how to operate your stroller.
Every stroller or chariot is different. Learn how yours moves, turns and brakes. You will want to get a feeling for your stroller. Once you are familiar with how you can handle the stroller, you will be maneuvering much faster and more comfortable. Like everything in life the more practice, you have the better you get. Moreover, learning how much the brakes can handle is very important. Your weight and load will vary, and you want to be sure that you can steer safely.
Mind the strap
One safety guard I continuously preach is the use of a wrist-strap. I strongly advise you either purchase a stroller with a built-in strap or DIY one yourself. Everyone has random strings or braids lying around at home. Ty a loop around your wrist and attach the other end to the stroller. The advantage of the DIY version is it almost costs nothing since you already have the material lying around, and you can adjust the length as per your desire. Having a longer strap will give you the ability to steer with one hand and alternate the arms. The little downside is you have to pay attention to not get the cord or string tangled up in your rear wheels.
Why is it so important to have a wrist strap? If you plan to go for jogging with your stroller which I assume you do if you are browsing this blog. You most certainly will need a safety strap. You will probably go off track or off-road and downhill. This is where the strap is invaluable. You could trip and accidentally lose grip of the stroller. It can be wet because it recently rained and you could lose your footing and trip. The dangers are endless. I can only repeat, always wear a wrist-strap!
off track? No problem, if you have a handbrake
As I just mentioned above a handbrake will be invaluable if you want to go off track or off-road jogging with your stroller. Think about running a steep slope downhill and holding onto the stroller weighing more than 60 pounds or more. Now imagine you weigh 130 pounds or less. You will most definitely have a hard time grasping the stroller while running downhill. This is the reason why you need a handbrake. You can do without, but your experience will be much more pleasant with one.
Parking your stroller right and activate the rear wheel brake
Adding to the importance of using a wrist-strap comes the rear wheel brake. I strongly advise securing your brakes every time you park your stroller. Be it even just for standing a minute. Make a habit out of it. You want to avoid having the stroller running off especially if you are not wearing a wrist-strap. This is a crucial point.
Keep your stroller well maintained. The everyday use of your stroller will put a serious strain on the materials and frame. Keeping it in shape is very important for all safety aspects. You will want to regularly check your wheels for air pressure in case of pneumatic tires. If you are running low on air pressure, you will have a hard time maneuvering the stroller. Gas stations usually provide free portable devices with compressed air that fit the valves on pneumatic wheels (there the same as bicycles).
Wheels and frame
Most probably your wheels and or the frame can start squeaking or squealing over time. This is normal as every material will start “working” when exposed to the elements. Keep the bearings and joints lubricated if you need to. You don’t have to take special lubricant any regular household general lubricant (WD40) will do just fine.
Regularly check all brake systems you may have on your stroller. If you have a handbrake, test for functionality. If you only have rear wheel brakes check if they still latch correctly.
Check the seams on your stroller every few weeks. If the fabric is a carrying element for the seat, you want to know that it will hold. You want to avoid going for a run and having the material fail while in full motion.
Your stroller, in general, can be compared to a bicycle and needs to be maintained similarly. It’s not hard, but you need to do it to keep it functioning correctly and also keep the value of your stroller higher than compared to a neglected one. If you depend on every dollar, you may want to sell it later second-hand. What buyers are looking for is a well-maintained stroller. Just think what you would pay attention to if you were buying a used stroller.
Neck support, wait for your kid to be older than 6 months
Please don’t start jogging with your baby before the minimum age of 6 Months. Chances are your infant doesn’t yet have the neck stability to support the head movement. Jogging with a stroller will put pressing force on your baby’s neck, and you could cause severe damage. Just treat it the same as if you hold your baby. Until your child can support its head, you also carry it with supporting the head. Now, no science dictates when exactly your kid will be ready. But as a general rule of thumb children, age 6-8 months start have developed enough muscles to support the head. Listen to your gut feeling. If you can hold your kid in your arms and it keeps its head upright by himself? Your good to go. If not, instead wait a bit. Every kid is different and needs more or less time to develop. Your child will get there, don’t worry. You can also always ask your kids physician on their opinion.
Newborn bassinet may provide a solution
The exception to the rule above is a stroller that fully reclines or one with a newborn bassinet instead of a seat. However, I still would not recommend going earlier due to possible shocks and hits due to debris and other obstructions. Regular walks and strolls yes but not running. If you insist on trying it before your infant is 6-8 months old, you can ask your physician for his opinion.
Headphones are no Bueno
I said it in another blog post. Please don’t wear headphones when running. You will become one of the zombies oblivious to their surroundings. When running with an infant, you will need to be fully attentive and aware in case your child needs you. Moreover, your ability to react quickly to environmental situations drastically declines. Enjoy the sounds of your surroundings. I can only recommend going for a run in the woods. There is nothing more soothing and stress relaxing than gliding through the forest for a good hour or two fully absorbing the fresh air, the various sounds, and the peaceful view.
Don’t hang any bags from the handlebar
Use the strollers intended storage compartment for bringing along supplies and items. Dangling strings can get tangled in the wheels and cause abrupt stops or that you even trip and fall. If you ever rode a bike and got a stick in your wheel will know what I mean. Additionally, the added weight of the bag could lead to the stroller to tip over backward. According to a study in Academic Pediatrics, this is a significant source of stroller injuries.
Don’t get discouraged from all of the above. Go out and have fun! But do it safely. I have very fond memories of the first few running sessions I had with my baby boy. Man, was I out of shape after giving birth, but it felt so rewarding when I started jogging again. The physical exhaustion was there but the released endorphins gave me a great sense of accomplishment. Everybody who works out regularly knows this feeling. Plus I enjoy the bonding with my Boy when we are out together.