When buying a stroller, you would expect it to be safe, right? Of course, you would. But who decides if a stroller is safe?
Stroller Safety Standards Video
When taking your child out in a stroller, jogging stroller or pram – safety is very important. Here is a video displaying different scenarios best, practices, and safe and unsafe practices when using your pushchair with your little baby.
What are the regulations that manufacturers have to follow?
There are actually quite an extensive amount of stroller safety regulations that manufacturers in the United States have to follow. These stroller safety standards and regulations are published by the American Society for Testing and Materials otherwise known as the ASTM. These guidelines are listed under F 833 – followed by the year. Before a stroller can be put on the market, it must go through rigorous testing to make sure it meets the ASTM standards. Each year the guidelines are updated in the hopes of making strollers safer.
Below is a summary of the safety regulations regarding strollers and carriages published by the ASTM.
Before the major testing, there are some requirements for the testing facility. Each stroller will be tested on a concrete floor that is coved by 1/8 in thick vinyl flooring. The room should remain at a temperature of around 73 degrees Fahrenheit. The stroller is to be completely assembled according to the manufacturer’s instruction, and all tests will be on the same model unless the original is damaged. In that case a replacement will be used for the remainder of the testing.
There are several basic requirements that a stroller must meet before it goes through testing.
First of all there must be no sharp edges or points that could harm a child. Also, all small protective parts such as caps and plugs must be tested to see how easily they can be removed. If they are within a child’s reach and could be removed, this poses a choking hazard.
Protective Safety Test
All small protective parts must be tested to make sure they cannot be removed. This type of test is called the “Torque Test Method.” Place 3lb of force over 5 seconds on each part, and turn it clockwise 180 degrees, then release and repeat, turning it the other direction. Another test is to place 15lb of force, and pull the part in the direction in which it would be most likely to break off. Hold for 10 seconds and then release.
The model must also be checked for pinching and scissoring hazards. If a stroller is designed to fold up, there must be a latch to prevent in from accidentally folding while in use. Springs are also tested to see how much space between the coils there can be while in use. If there is more than .120 inches between coils, then they must be covered to avoid pinching.
Set up the model in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Apply 45 lb of force at the place most likely to cause folding. Gradually apply this force over 5 minutes and hold for 10 minutes. Repeat this test five times then fold the stroller, unfold it, and do the test once more.
The surface of the stroller is also tested for safety. The paint and surface coating must comply with certain safety regulation. Any wood parts of the stroller must be smooth, so there in no chance of splintering. Warning labels on the stroller can be attached by printing, burning, hot stamp, or paper label. These are also tested to be sure they are permanent.
All labels must be permanent. For paper labels, they are considered permanent if they can’t be removed with out tools, or if the label comes off in pieces or if it damages the surface of the stroller. For a warning label that is sewn into the seams, apply force over 5 seconds and hold for 10 seconds.
Brakes are a required feature for all models. When they are engaged, they are not allowed to let the wheels rotate more that 90 degrees while testing. The brakes also can not be located within reach of a child who is sitting in the stroller.
Engage the brakes and place the stroller model of a 12 degree incline. The surface is covered with 120 grit sandpaper. The wheel where the brake is applied should be positioned so that it is higher that the rest. Gradually apply 40lb into the seat’s center and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat when the wheel with the brake is lower than the other wheels.
The impact test is the second to the last test that is performed on strollers. A 5lb weight is attached to the center of the handlebar. The stroller model is then placed on a smooth platform that is angled at 20 degrees. A steel stop is placed at the end of the ramp and should be at least as tall as the stroller’s front wheels. Release and let the model roll down the incline. Repeat three times. Then test the model with the seat in an upright position and a 40lb weight in the seat. Repeat 5 times.
A Stroller is to be able to support a static load* of 100lb or 2.5 times the manufacturer’s recommended weight maximum. A carriage is to be able to hold a static load of 50lb total. The weight is to be placed in the middle of the stroller. A convertible carriage/stroller should support a static load equal to the manufacturer’s directions for each configuration. For a high capacity stroller the weight is put in the seat that is most likely to fail.
Static Load Test
A 6 inch by 6 inch piece of wood that is 3/4inch thick is gradually applied over 5 seconds and held for 60 seconds.
Next, 50lb or 1.25 times the recommended weight is gradually applied to the footrest over 5 seconds and held for 60.
While the stroller is being tested, its stability is in question. It will remain on the testing plain and tested for stability when the stroller in empty and full. For a high capacity stroller, the weight it put in the worst seat.
First the stroller is placed on a platform at a 12 degree angle. The seat should be in the most upright position the model allows. Place stops under the wheels so they will not roll, but still might tip. Try to see how easily the model will tip over. Recline the seat and test again.
To test front stability as if a child were climbing up into the stroller place the model on a flat surface. No weight should be in the seat and the footrest should be at its lowest point. (This is if the footrest is adjustable) Apply 40lb of force downward over 5 seconds and hold for 10 seconds.
Restraints are a requirement for all strollers except infant carriages. The restraint must go around the waist and crotch. It is to be designed so that the crotch part must be used whenever the harness is in use.
Secure stroller so it will not move. Over a 5 second span apply a force of 40lb to one of the attachments and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat five times and then do the same with the other attachments. The waist restrain and crotch strap are also measured to make sure they can fit snugly on babies of all sizes.
Strollers must have a harness built into the model so that everything is pre-assembles. Carriages are not required to have restraints if they are only built for infants. If the seat back sits up or if the carriage can be used beyond infancy, then it must have a harness!
While the restraints are being tested, no part of the buckle can slip or come off. The harness straps that are anchored to the stroller also can not tear or come off.
For carriages or stroller/carriage systems with fully reclining seats must have a protectedoccupant retention** There must be walls around all sides. No holes are allowed, but if there are, the model they must be fully covered. Strollers with a full recline position must have a non-detachable feature to cover holes in the stroller.
Occupant Retention Test
The stroller seat must be fully upright with a weight or small dummy placed in the seat and fastened into the harness. Apply 45lb of force on the dummy’s ankle over 5 seconds and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 5 times.
Some strollers have a belly bar or a tray. These should not allow a hole large enough for a child’s torso to slip through.
On each stroller model sold, the product and/or retail package must have the manufacturer’s name, the distributor, address and/or phone number of the manufacturer, the product code and an ID stating the date of manufacturing, clearly written on it.
Warning labels must also be permanently fixed to the model. It must be in contrasting color and using San Serif font. Below is several warning that must be on every stroller model:
- Warning: Never leave child unattended
- Warning: Avoid serious injury from falling or sliding out. Always use seat belt. (The manufacturer can also use another word to describe its harness system)
The following warning is only necessary on strollers that fully recline.
- Warning: Child may slip into leg openings and strangle. Never use reclined carriage position unless…. (and the manufacturer add their own directions).
Instructional materials also must be included and easy to read. They have to explain assembly, maintenance, cleaning, and instructions on how to operate the stroller.
As you can see, each stroller that is on the market today has to pass each of these tests. Hopefully this knowledge will help more parents to have some peace of mind when they put their money into a baby stroller.
* Static Load – A downward force applied by a dead weight onto the object in question
** Occupant Retention – The closed space inside a carriage or stroller where the occupant lays