Pram and stroller safety for you and your baby
We’re here to help you make your way through the minefield of information available, not to mention knowing where exactly to look! In this blog post we’ll give you an easy to read run-down of what is considered safe use and why. We’ll also be going into each point into more detail in our coming blog posts, so stay tuned!!
Safe usage of the stroller seat or bassinet
When it comes to newborn safety and your pram, the best way to position your brand new babe is flat on their backs, on a relatively firm surface. This allows them to move freely when they feel the need to rather than having them in a fixed position, limiting their ability to move.
At this young age, their spines are still developing rapidly (and will be for some time), which is why a flat surface is recommended. This allows their development to go ahead as normal and reduce the risk of SUID (Sudden Unexpected Infant Death – formerly called SIDS).
Airway restriction is also a real concern for newborns. Did you know your newborn’s airway is small and easily blocked if their head falls forward or chin is pressed against their chest? Any type of inclined seat, curved seat, and car seat that puts your little one in a curved shape should be limited while they are very young.
Wondering when it’s safe to move your little one into the seat? Once they are able to sit up unassisted (usually around around 6 months of age), they will have the correct head and neck control to be able to support themselves and stop their head from falling forward.
Using your pram safely when your baby has reflux
If your baby has reflux sitting them up used to be the go to move, however Red Nose has de-bunked the myth that elevating your little one assists with reflux. So it’s still best to keep your newborn in the bassinet until they are able to sit up unaided. If you’re really worried about reflux seek advice from your doctor or medical specialist.
What to do if your baby likes to sit up and see more
While your little one might appear to be engaging with the world around them, before six months of age, a babies range of vision is still quite limited to 30cm in front of them. From six months their vision improves to around 20/20 and they can take in everything around them – check out this super cute video from a baby’s perspective. So, using the bassinet is still recommended. And if your baby does like to see more of the world, just open up that canopy a little, and let them experience all of the new colours, sounds and smells the outside world has to offer!
Stroller seat safety harness
Once you do start using a prams seat, you’ll find a 5-point safety harness fitted to the seat. What might look like a simple pram harness to you looks like a mountain of work and restrictions to us!
Total lengths, force, and loop sizes are all closely monitored by safety testing facilities to make absolutely sure it’s the safest it can be. The harness loops are only allowed to extend to certain lengths. Why? So your little inquisitive babe can’t get their head stuck in any of them, that’s why!
The buckles themselves also need to break under a certain amount of pressure so if your child does become trapped, the buckles will self-release. Such a fine line to keep your little one safe when used properly and also factor in the ability to break open if they find themselves in trouble.
What's the safest way to avoid anything terrible happening? Don’t use your pram as a toy and pack it away when your adventures are over, always leaving the harness unbuckled.
Wondering why the bassinet doesn't have a harness?
Pram bassinets are not required to have a harness installed in any pram sold in Australia. They can very easily become a hazard for your little babe, lots of loops and considerable lengths can mean entrapment if your little one wriggles into them.
Safe use of your pram or stroller’s foot brake
This might sound obvious, but with the recent news of prams rolling away onto train tracks it’s worth mentioning. The foot brake is there for a very important reason, to keep your pram from rolling away, so please make it a habit from day one to press that brake whenever you stop, even on flat surfaces, just do it. All Australian prams by law need to include a red coloured break for maximum visibility.
Use the wrist strap to keep your little one safely within reach
Again another simple one, the wrist strap on your pram is a backup for the brake. All Australian prams are required to have a permanent wrist strap (that can’t be taken off unless you cut it off) so please make sure it’s used, just in case.
Is it safe to hang bags on handle bars?
Ahhhh, such a hot topic! We all have so much to carry when we take our little ones out. However, when it comes to safely using your pram or stroller there should never be more than 1kg of weight placed on any pram handlebar.
We see lots and lots of huge baby bags hanging from prams and while it might seem practical at the time, it can unbalance the pram and increases the risk of it tipping.
How does this happen? The weight in the baby bag throws off the balance of the whole pram, and given the right conditions (on a slight hill, your baby decides to move to the side, or the bag is just too heavy that day) any pram can tip.
There are only a few models we’ve seen out there which are specifically designed to carry weight on the handlebars and have been modified to not tip and strengthened in the frame.
Another risk with excess weight on the handlebars is your frame itself. It’s made from aluminium to keep it as light as possible, and over time any excess weight may bend your frame either slightly or in a more obvious way depending on the amount of weight and how long it has been used.
This will cause not only cosmetic differences but also effect the folding mechanisms inside the frame, causing issues down the track.
Our top tip? Look for additional storage options on any pram you’re considering. Such as small travel organisers, seat pockets, bassinet pockets and so on. Spreading out the essentials you will need for your day out is best practice and keeps everything safe and accessible.
Is it safe to use muslin wraps over your pram?
Having just had a baby recently myself, I was thrilled to see the midwives, maternal child health nurses and paediatricians all taking a strong stance on explaining the real risks of this really common practice amongst mums of pram aged children.
In short, nothing should be placed over or on top of your prams canopy. Taking advantage of other features built into any pram itself (reversible seat, extended canopy, clip on sunshade) should be the only objects used to provide cover.
When any pram is being designed, airflow is always considered. Pram fabrics need to be dense enough to protect your child from the sun, as well as strong enough to operate correctly, so they will be thick and not very breathable. Adding any more covering can reduce airflow and create a much too hot environment for your baby to be contained in.
Did you know that babies and young children can’t regulate their body temperature as well as adults can? This is why it's super important to keep them in an open pram and allow air in. This article from Kidspot is full of useful information regarding the real dangers of using even a thin muslin over your pram.Got more questions or want to chat about pram safety with one of our pram experts? There’s no such thing as a silly question, and we’re always happy to help. Just send us an email, message us on Facebook, call us, or touch base via Live Chat on our website.