Strollers make parenting a lot easier, but they can also pose safety risks. With so many models on the market, it can be difficult to determine the most important features.

No matter what model you choose, periodically inspect your stroller to ensure it is secure and stable. Some stroller safety features are federally mandated; others are optional, but that doesn't necessarily mean they aren't important.

Five-Point Harness

Stroller restraints should be adjustable and must fit the child snugly. A waist restraint by itself is not safe, as the child could slip below the band. The safest stroller restraint system is a five-point harness, which consists of one strap over each shoulder, one strap between the legs, and one waist strap from each side. All five straps connect to a buckle in the middle of their torso.

A three-point harness, which includes the waist straps and leg strap but no shoulder straps, is also generally considered safe.

woman holding and setting up belts for her child miniseries / Getty Images


Childproof Buckles

A stroller’s harness buckle should be simple enough for an adult to open quickly in an emergency, but complex enough that a child won’t be able to unfasten it.

Test all buckles before using the stroller to ensure you understand how to open and close them. Harness buckles should be fastened whenever a child is in the stroller.

person fixing harness of stroller Catherine McQueen / Getty Images


Easy Wheel Locks

The most effective stroller brakes work by engaging mechanisms within the wheels to lock them in place. Avoid brakes that only apply pressure to the tires, as they can still allow for some wheel movement.

Ensure that the brakes are easy to activate in case of emergency. Always apply them when the stroller is stopped.

Stroller parking lock wheel safety Wittaya Budda / Shutterstock


Secure Wheel Base

A stroller should have a wide space between all wheels to prevent it from easily tipping in any direction. All wheels should be touching the ground when the stroller is on a flat surface. Check the wheels periodically to make sure they are not loose in their brackets.

woman walking and pushing baby stroller Sven Hansche / EyeEm / Getty Images


Low Seat

The seat of the stroller should sit low to the ground to keep its center of gravity low and prevent tipping. Test the stability of the stroller by pushing down on the handlebar. If the stroller starts to tip backward when you apply light pressure, it is not stable.

woman, and child in a stroller LSOphoto / Getty Images


Central Storage

If there is a storage basket included on the stroller, it should be located in front of the back wheels and under the seat. This way, when items are added to it, the stroller’s weight will remain balanced and low, ensuring its stability. Never hang storage bags from the push handle, as this can unbalance the stroller.

Baby stroller on beach at sunny day Tatyana Aksenova / Shutterstock


Reclining Seat

A stroller must include a reclining seat if you are planning on using it with an infant under six months old, because infants cannot hold up their heads.

The seat should lie nearly flat when fully reclined. Alternatively, some strollers are designed with removeable infant bassinets or car seats.

father taking care of newborn in stroller SanyaSM / Getty Images


Closable Leg Openings

If a stroller has a reclining seat, check to make sure it also has a way to close the leg holes of the seat — either fabric covers or footrests that rise to cover the openings. Leg holes that cannot be closed pose a serious danger to infants, as their bodies may fit through the opening.

mom jogging while pushing stroller LanaStock / Getty Images


Tandem Seats

When looking for strollers with two seats, opt for a model with one seat in front of the other. These are called tandem strollers. They are more stable than side-by-side models.

If you prefer strollers with side-by-side seats, make sure there is only a single long footrest. Children’s feet can get stuck between separate footrests.

woman taking care of two children in stroller Natalya Lys / Shutterstock


Weather-Blocking Canopy

Look for a stroller with a weather-blocking canopy to keep children protected from sun, wind, and rain. Some canopies can be adjusted so that the opening faces either forward or backward.

Consider choosing a canopy with a plastic window that allows you to see the child while you push the stroller.

Little boy walking in stroller with rain protection cover Kuziki / Getty Images


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