Expectant parents only want what is best for their offspring, and prams, pushchairs and strollers are naturally no exception. They need to look as stylish as possible and offer a multitude of functions. Today, there are so many colours and models on offer that consumers are quickly spoilt for choice. However, when making a purchase decision, parents should put their child's safety first. TÜV SÜD product professional Robert Ziegler has some tips about what to look out for.
Prams are sold in specialist baby shops, but are also found at department stores and discounters now and again. But how can parents spot a good pram or stroller? An important point to note in this context is that parents should not base their purchase decision on stylish looks alone. A visit to a baby shop for some professional advice is a sensible first step. Parents can prepare for the purchase by researching on the Internet in advance and reading the relevant test pages to get an overview of what’s available. In addition, families should sit down and think about their priorities. The question of whether to choose a pram, a pushchair or a stroller is as central as the issue of the model's quality, safety and reliability.
Providing sensible guidance – TÜV SÜD Octagon and GS mark
As the main criterion for the parents' purchase decision, the pram or stroller should bear the TÜV SÜD Octagon or GS mark. These test labels confirm that the model offers a high level of safety and stability and that it fulfils the normative requirements of the European standard on ‘wheeled child conveyances’ – in other words, pushchairs and prams. “The EN 1888 standard governs the requirements for parking and braking devices, the use of certain chemicals, the locking mechanism and any warning signs on the pram”, explains Ziegler. Testing also covers the pram's durability and longevity.
Safety and stability
To ensure stability, the pram's wheel gauge should be as wide as possible. However, keep in mind that prams with a very wide wheel gauge may no longer fit through narrow spaces such as supermarket aisles. Given this, prams and pushchairs should be as wide as necessary – but as narrow as possible. The parking brake must be easy to apply and accessible at all times. This is particularly important if parents intend to attach a ride-on board for transporting siblings. To ensure stability, sibling seats should only be attached to strollers that are designed and tested for this purpose and labelled with the TÜV SÜD or GS mark. Mesh bags attached to the handlebar are only suitable for transporting lightweight articles. The same applies to the shopping baskets on the base of the pram. Ziegler warns, “If overloaded, prams and pushchairs might topple over.” The TÜV SÜD Octagon and the GS mark also guarantee that none of the moving parts that can be reached by the infant pose any danger of trapping or pinching little fingers. All articulated joints must come with safety mechanisms to avoid accidental collapse of the pram or pushchair. The same applies to the reversible handlebars, which change the direction a pushchair faces. They too must be protected by an additional safety lock. An adjustable safety strap and rounded edges minimise injury risks. Reflectors affixed to the fabric increase visibility in darkness and poor weather.
The right choice for any age
Newborns need a stable lie-flat mattress. Pram and pushchair combinations are the right choice, as they come with a lie-flat carrycot which can accommodate the infant for the first six months of its life. The carrycot is removable and the pram can be converted into a pushchair later on. This combination can thus be used for children up to 15 kg (corresponding roughly to an age of around 3 years). TÜV SÜD expert Ziegler notes, “Pushchairs are unsuitable for newborns and should not be used before infants can sit up comfortably and safely on their own. Purchasers should also make sure that the stroller or pushchair has a high backrest that provides sufficient support to their infant.” Travel systems are an alternative to conventional prams; their frames can be combined with various attachments, such as a car seat, carrycot or pushchair seat. All individual parts should have been safety tested for their intended use and identified by the TÜV SÜD Octagon or GS mark. For larger families, twin or tandem pushchairs might present an interesting alternative.
Consider individual preferences
Of course, in spite of all safety concerns, comfort should never fall by the wayside. Older children want to feel as comfortable as possible in their buggy, pushchair or stroller. For parents it is important that the model is easy to push, adjust, fold and unfold. Parents should also think about their own priorities. Will the pushchair be used primarily in the city and on public transport? If so, a smaller pushchair with easily manoeuvrable and lockable wheels will be the right choice. The pushchair should also be lightweight and easy to lift. Parents who frequently transport their pushchair in the car will also be happy about a light pushchair that folds compactly. Before you make the purchase, check that your model of choice actually fits into your car. By contrast, outdoor fans who plan ‘off-road’ trips in the countryside and forests should go for an all-terrain pushchair (ATP) with large pneumatic tyres to cushion bumpy terrain. The choice of colour is up to the purchaser, of course. However, Robert Ziegler has a tip: “Bright colours provide better visibility and will not fade.” Parents intending to use their stroller for jogging or inline skating should make sure that their model of choice is designed for this purpose. While many pushchairs offer sleek, dynamic style, not all of them are made for sports use. These products display the warning “Not suitable for jogging or skating”. For these activities, special jogging strollers are available and should also carry a certification mark.
Behaviour is key for safety
Even parents who heed all the safety marks and purchase tips need to always make personally sure their children are protected. As Ziegler knows from experience, “Most accidents are caused by lack of attention – for example, if a child is not strapped in and falls out of the pushchair, or if the brake is not applied and the pushchair accidentally rolls away.” By making sure that all locks and safety mechanisms are in place before the pushchair is used, and avoiding overloading it when shopping, parents will be on the safe side and can enjoy fun outings with their pram or pushchair.
Further information is available at www.tuv-sud.com/ps.
Note for editorial staff: The high-resolution photo is available for download at www.tuv-sud.com/pressphotos (Section: "Media Photos").
Caption: Prams, pushchairs and strollers undergo thorough mechanical and chemical testing by TÜV SÜD experts.
Press-contact: Heidi Atzler