Pram and stroller safety for you and your baby

The Babybee Customer Service team provides support to thousands of Australian parents and expecting parents each year. Some of the most common questions we get asked are about safety; What are the Australian safety standards? Can I use a stroller seat with my newborn? How do I know if my pram is safe? Can I cover my pram with a blanket or wrap?

It can all be quite confusing and it’s important to know what’s safe and what isn’t.

So we’ve put together a guide to our most frequently asked safety questions (and some common misconceptions) to give you an easy to read run-down of what is considered safe pram use and why.

The safest position for newborns

When it comes to newborn safety and your pram, the best way to position your brand-new babe is flat on their back, on a relatively firm surface. This allows them to move freely when they need to, not limiting their ability to move.

At this young age, your baby’s spine is developing rapidly. This flat, firm surface offers the best position for spine development as well as reducing the risk of SUID (Sudden Unexpected Infant Death – formerly called SIDS). It also ensures that their airways remain clear.
In any type of inclined or curved seat or capsule, there’s a risk that your baby’s head may fall forward or their chin press against their chest and blocking their small airway.

For this reason, any type of inclined seat or even car seat that puts your little one in a curved shape should be limited while they are very young.

When is it safe to move your little one from bassinet to seat?

Once they’re able to sit up unassisted (usually 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.  

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 baby’s range of vision is still quite limited to only 30cm in front of them and only improves to around 20/20 after 6 months.

Using the bassinet is still recommended, for all of the reasons listed above. If your baby does like to see more of the world, you can open up the canopy a little more, and let them experience all of the new colours, sounds and smells that the outside world has to offer!

Positioning a baby for reflux

If your baby has reflux, sitting them up used to be the go-to move. However, the most recent Red Nose advice has de-bunked the myth that elevating your little one actually assists with their reflux.

The consensus is that it is best to keep your newborn in the bassinet until they are able to sit up unaided, regardless of reflux. If you’re really worried about reflux, seek advice from your doctor or medical specialist and always follow your doctor’s advice.

5 Point Safety Harness

Once you do start using the seat, you’ll find it’s fitted with a 5-point safety harness (an Australian Safety Standard requirement). Total strap lengths, force to open the buckle, and loop sizes are all precisely designed and rigorously tested to not only keep your little one in place, but to also prevent potential strangulation hazards caused by the harness itself.

What's the safest way to avoid anything terrible happening? Always strap your little one into the harness with all 5 straps fastened and ensuring it’s adjusted correctly to their size. When they’re not seated in the pram, always store your stroller with the harness unbuckled.

Why doesn’t the bassinet have a harness?

Pram bassinets in Australia are not required to have a harness installed. They can in some instances actually become a strangulation or entrapment hazard if your little one wriggles around too much. So don’t worry, they’re just as safe without it.

Safe use of your pram or stroller’s brake

This one might sound obvious, we have all seen the horrifying footage in the news of prams rolling onto train tracks, so we thought it’s worth mentioning. The foot brake is there for one very important reason; to keep your pram from rolling into danger. So please make it a habit from day one to press that brake whenever you stop, even on flat surfaces, just do it. It only takes a strong wind or an accidental push and away it rolls.

Foot breaks tend to be easy to engage (especially when you’ve got your hands full!) but 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

We often get asked what “the loop hanging off the handlebar” is. And customers come up with the most creative ideas as to what it could be (a strap to attach it to a pole when you run into the shops or a loop to hang jackets through). In all seriousness, it’s another important safety feature. It’s not just when you’re stationary that the pram can roll away. If you trip whilst walking or someone else falls and pushes your pram, having your wrist through the tether strap will prevent it rolling too far. Again, make it a habit from day one to put your hand through the strap before you start walking.

Note: All Australian prams are required to have a permanent wrist strap that can’t be removed.

Is it safe to hang bags on a stroller handle bar?

This is a very common mistake and a big no-no! We all have so much to carry when we take our little ones out, however, when it comes to safely using your pram there should never be more than 1kg of weight placed on any pram handlebar (unless the pram specifically advertises otherwise). 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.

All prams that comply with the Australian Safety Standards have been tested for tipping risk and will not tip over if used correctly, but given the right conditions (on a hill or incline, children not secured, heavy bags on handlebars) any pram can potentially tip.  

Another risk with excess weight on the handlebar is to the stroller frame itself. Stroller frames tend to be made from lightweight, durable materials like aluminum to keep the overall pram weight as light as possible. 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.

Is it safe to use muslin wraps over your pram?

In short, nothing should be placed over or on top of your prams’ canopy that is not provided with your pram bassinet or stroller.

Pram fabrics need to be dense enough to protect your child from the sun, as well as strong enough to last, so inevitably they will be thick and not very breathable. Adding and additional covering to your pram can reduce the amount of airflow, creating the potential for overheating and drastically reducing the amount of oxygen available.

Babies and young children can’t regulate their body temperature as well as adults can, which is why it's super important to keep them in an open pram and allow air in. Even a thin muslin cloth over your pram can be enough to cause your little one to overheat.

Accessories that come with your pram (or can be purchased from the manufacturer separately) will be safe to use as they generally will have ventilation panels and be made from appropriate, breathable fabrics.

Feel Safer with a Babybee Pram

There is a lot to be aware of when it comes to pram safety, but it doesn’t have to be scary! Prams sold in Australia should comply with the Australian Safety Standards, which test both the safety and durability of your pram.

As a good place to start we recommend you always read your user manual cover to cover to ensure you understand the specific risks and safety features associated with your pram or stroller.

If you have any questions about using your pram safely, the team at Babybee are always ready and willing to offer our advice.