Why Are Strollers so Expensive?

A bunch of dollar notes and a question mark. Symbolizing the question “Why are strollers expensive”.

As new parents, we quickly learned the hard way how expensive it is to have children. There are a lot of things you need to buy, and if you want excellent products, the costs quickly pile up. One thing we always wondered is why strollers are so expensive. I mean, they are such simple constructions, or are they?

Strollers are expensive due to the high demands placed on safety and ergonomics. Today a stroller is more than a chair or cot with wheels. It must be engineered to guarantee safety and ergonomics. Unlike many other products, the minimum quality standard is very high, as a stroller is built for transporting very vulnerable and precious cargo: your child. Safety is not optional but generally strictly required through regulations. Every additional feature adds to the burden of ensuring safety standards are met.

What Hazards Are There?

To learn about the hazards, we looked at tests from two test companies, namely a stroller certification test from Intertek and a stroller certification test from TUV Rheinland. Both of them offer tests to fulfill EN 1888, a European standard for strollers. The tests include:

  • Materials
  • Construction and standing safety
  • Slide lock
  • Fixing brake
  • Locking device
  • Carrying handles
  • Removable or rotating seat
  • Stability and durability of locking mechanisms
  • Restraint system and
  • Wheel stability
  • Ability to deal with irregular surfaces
  • Dynamic stability
  • Durability of labels
  • Plastic packaging and product information

We also found a document document for a European stroller safety standard that outlines some hazards:

  • Chemical hazards
  • Thermal hazards
  • Mechanical hazards
  • Entrapment hazards
  • Hazards from moving parts
  • Entanglement hazards
  • Suffocation hazards
  • Hazardous edges and protrusions
  • Parking and braking devices
  • Stability
  • Structural integrity
  • Durability of marking

To sum up, we have come a long way from when a skilled handyperson could just start to build strollers and sell locally. Today you find scientists playing around with all kinds of details related to strollers, see for instance “Innovative And Ergonomic Design of Baby Stroller for Children’s 6 Months - 3 Years Old” and “Safety Stroller” if you want to get a glimpse of what’s involved in stroller design. A little warning though, it gets very technical!

Aren’t All Strollers I Can Buy Safe?

The purpose of standards and regulations is to make it easy for you as a consumer. If the manufacturer states that their stroller is certified to fulfill your local standard, you can indeed feel reassured. But stroller designers are humans too, so do not let your guard down. Even famous premium manufacturers like Bugaboo can make mistakes, see for instance how they had to recall carry handles due to reports of a white button popping out from the carry handle. We recommend you to pick a stroller from a well-known brand that takes safety seriously. Bugaboo is a great example. They made a mistake, but they took responsibility and made sure that solve it. To learn from the example with Bugaboo, make sure to reach out to the stroller manufacturer if you are worried about safety, as it very much lies in their interest to keep parents reassured; they might be more helpful than you would expect.

An example of a stroller that appears unsafe is Sonarin Baby Stroller (product id: FBA15DMBJ0LPU000165 / X001AKEGQL). The Office for Product Safety and Standards in UK noticed that the restraint system did not work correctly. Indeed, also on Amazon (we’re not entirely sure if it is the same model, though), you quickly find a complaint about the seat belt in a review.

Are All Strollers Equally Safe?

As we understand it, the standard sets the baseline. Indeed, you don’t need to worry if a stroller is certified to EN 1888 (European standard) or the equivalent in other regions. That’s the whole point of the standard. But our experience is that strollers’ safety can still vary. With correct usage, perhaps there’s nothing to worry about. But strollers are used by humans, and humans make mistakes. So a stroller that is easy to handle can also offer a bit of a safety boost, at least if you are not always perfectly focused and clear-minded.

My wife and I also felt that for a newborn, it was an enjoyable experience to go out with a stroller that has large and soft wheels, such as Bugaboo Donkey, because it just made it easier to keep the stroller stable and not abruptly stop when hitting something, e.g., a gap in the pavement.

Ergonomics and Comfort

We definitely noticed differences among strollers regarding ergonomics and comfort. Some strollers do come with a nicer mattress. Or perhaps a more extreme example is strollers with proper bassinets instead of just seats you can recline and put a newborn in (per manufacturer’s instructions). We’re big proponents of using a proper bassinet for newborns.

Some strollers also offer nicer ventilation in our experience. They strategically make holes for air to flow through. And indeed, some strollers even offer mattresses or fabric with special air channels – these are wonderful.

Final Thoughts

This was quite a technical article. But that’s because strollers are expensive precisely because things get very technical. Standards regarding safety are set high, and that’s good for us as consumers; if we see that a stroller has been certified to our local standard, we can feel reassured. Learning about the complexities involved in proper stroller design and manufacturing made us a bit more attentive and helped us get a feeling of what to look for. Hopefully, it has the same effect on you.