ASTM F833-21: Carriages And Strollers

Baby strollers and carriages adhering to safety requirements in ASTM F833-21.

In 1733, William Kent, a landscape architect of the Royal Garden in Britain, designed the first stroller for the Duke of Devonshire, who wanted to amuse his children while in transit. Kent’s ornate baby carriages (also referred to as a pram and perambulator) were considered luxury items used by wealthy families. They were designed to be pulled by ponies, dogs, and goats, rather than be pushed by a humans. Since then, carriages and strollers have gotten more versatile with their design and more accessible to all. Thus, ASTM F833-21: Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification For Carriages And Strollers specifies safety performance requirements to reduce the hazards to children presented by carriages and strollers.

What Are Injuries Associated With Carriages/Strollers?

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), carriage and stroller incidents have led to injuries to children associated with the following: stability, brakes, restraint systems, latches and folding mechanisms, structural integrity, cords, wheel detachment, and deaths due to entrapment in openings of convertible carriage/strollers. Falls, tip overs and collapses, entrapment, unintentional folding or collapsing, choking, sharp points, and pinching all hazards the CPSC has found with carriages and strollers. In response to the incident-data compiled by the CPSC, ASTM F833-21 attempts to minimize these problems.

The ASTM F833-21 Standard for Carriages And Strollers

ASTM F833-21 establishes safety performance requirements, test methods, and labeling requirements to minimize the hazards to children presented by carriages and strollers. For carriages, the motive power is supplied by a person or persons pushing or pulling on a handle attached to the vehicle. For strollers, the motive power is supplied by a person moving at a walking rate while pushing on a handle attached to the stroller. This standard defines carriages as any wheeled vehicle generally used for the transport of an infant who is generally in a lying down position; strollers  are defined as a wheeled vehicle for the transport of infants or children generally in a sitting-up or semi-reclined position. Strollers normally are used for children from infancy to 36 months of age. The standard defines various types of strollers:

  1. Fold stroller: a stroller that, when folded, collapses all handlebars and leg tubes both in the front-to-back (or back-to-front) and side-to-side directions.
  2. Convertible car seat/stroller: car seat that has wheels and handle that can be converted to become a stroller without the addition of other components.
  3. Convertible carriage/stroller: wheeled vehicle that is intended to be converted by the owner to be used as either a carriage or a stroller.
  4. Jogging stroller: stroller intended to be used for children at a jogging rate (run at a steady slow trot).

Children’s products such as tricycles, bicycles, or other similar wheeled products that can be self-propelled by a child are not considered carriages or strollers subject to the requirements of this standard, even if the item has a temporary or permanent handle.

History of the Stroller

William Kent’s baby carriage of 1733 was shaped like a shell with a curved slipper toe up front and made of wicker. It had long snake-shaped harnesses that were attached to animals (like goats), so the carriage functioned like a horse-drawn carriage or dogsled. The snake was part of the Devonshire shield, adding to the carriage’s royal distinctiveness. Called the Chatsworth Serpent Pram, it received a lot of attention but only a few were made, given the high cost and laborious design.

Throughout the 1700s and early 1800s, having a baby carriage was a status symbol for wealth, being out of reach to most people due to the high cost. Carriages were extremely rare, and most parents simply kept their babies at home. In America in 1848, Charles Burton designed the first baby carriage that allowed parents and caregivers to push their baby around, rather than needing a small animal to do the pulling. Burton designed a three-wheel baby carriage and a four-wheel variant.

In 1889, William Richardson filed for the first baby carriage patent to improve its design in the United States. His design ditched the shell shape for a basket-shaped carriage that was more symmetrical. Further, the stroller design expanded upon a lot of impressive features for the time: spring-based suspension, a large umbrella-style canopy, a bassinet-style basket that rotated 180-degrees to face either direction, wheels that rotated independently (to help with turning), and the ability for the baby to lay flat or sit in a chair towards the back.

Old baby carriage from the 1800s not yet needing to adhere to ASTM F833-21.

Strollers were slowly becoming very common among the wealthier citizens of major European cities such as London and Paris, and many of the wicker basket-style designs were originating in France. The negligence, however, in safety standards in these vintage strollers are notable as they commonly tipped over both sideways and front-to-back and children could easily slice their finger through the wicker or iron wheel. Strollers were becoming increasingly common in U.S. cities and towns by the 1930s. 

Once the 1950s hit, stroller manufacturing took an upturn and most families were able to afford at least one baby carriage for their children. Costs decreased, the use of plastics increased, and more safety measures were implemented than ever before. By the 1960s, the umbrella stroller was invented, allowing parents assessable travel with lightweight and compact strollers; by the 1980s the revolutionary running and jogging stroller (both single and double versions) was invented. Today, safety features, more convenience, wider versatility (age, height, weight ranges), and more portability and comfort are all standard. 

ASTM F833-21: Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification For Carriages And Strollers is available on the ANSI Webstore.

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