Car Laws & Safety

When Can A Baby Sit Up In A Stroller?

A stroller is a must-have item for all new parents. In the first few months of life, you can quickly snap in your infant car seat and head on your merry way. However, as your baby begins to grow, you may be hoping that your little one will graduate from a reclined to a fully upright position. This leads to the question “When can a baby sit up in a stroller?”

Every child is different. In order for a baby to sit up in a stroller, they must first be able to sit upright and support their head and neck with no assistance. This milestone normally occurs between six and nine months of age. Once they are ready, parents should start with a steep recline and work towards a fully upright position. 

Infant Stroller Safety

Did you know that two children are injured in stroller accidents every hour of every day? A 21-year study conducted at the Center for Injury Research and Policy of the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital determined this average relates specifically to kids ages five and younger. Moreover, of all the children who experienced a fall, 67% of them incurred injuries that required medical attention at a hospital.

While these numbers are startling, they are high for two specific reasons — improper use of the stroller and distraction. It is important to remember that while we can all get distracted at times, there is no excuse for the misuse of a baby-related device.

Therefore, parents should never move their child to an upright stroller until they can fully support their head and neck for extended periods of time on their own. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: Many stroller brands like BOB Gear note that an infant can switch to their stroller seat as early as eight weeks of age. However, it is crucial that you read past this key phrase in their user manual.

Otherwise, you will miss an IMPERATIVE detail: “Babies incapable of holding their head up must have additional head and neck support to ride safely and comfortably.” Thus, it is always best to wait until your child is ready developmentally. 

Don’t Rush Milestones

According to the Centers For Disease Control, babies are normally able to hold up their own head with little support around four months of age. Then around six months of age, they can sit up with little to no assistance. These are key milestones for transitioning your baby of the carrier and allowing them to sit up in the built-in stroller seat. 

However, every child is different. Thus, it is imperative that you do not rush this transition. It is recommended that you wait until they have fully mastered these skills. For most children, this occurs around nine months. 

Why is it so important to wait? The proper development of your baby’s neck muscles serves as the foundation for all other movements. When their head is not supported, they risk obtaining an injury to the brain, neck, or cervical spine. Additionally, the stroller’s built-in five-point harness will likely be too large to effectively secure your infant safely. 

Therefore, it is advised to keep your baby in either a travel system with a carrier or a bassinet attachment or laying on a flat-surfaced stroller, like a pram, until they reach this developmental stage. Again this is usually between six and nine months of age.

Pay Attention To Their Size

If you have chosen a travel system that is compatible with their infant car seat, it is also imperative that you follow the manufacturer guidelines for this carrier. Most of these products have height and weight limits. Normally the weight limit is between 30 to 35 pounds.

The height restrictions range between 28 to 35 inches. When your child reaches either of these thresholds, it is time to graduate them out of the carrier. This is also a time to consider moving them to the main seat in the stroller.

 The easiest way to determine if they are too big in terms of height is to denote the space between the top of their head and the top of the car seat. If this measures less than an inch, then it is no longer a safe space for your baby. However, if your child is still struggling to fully support their head, then place them in the stroller at the largest angle possible. 

Transitioning Your Baby To Sit Up In A Stroller

Most infant strollers come with various recline settings to help accommodate your little one during this exciting transition. It is always best to start with the steepest recline. Then work your way up to the full upright position. 

In addition, many travel systems are also equipped with a reversible seat, allowing your baby to continue to face you while they sit up in the stroller. This is an ideal feature for those kids who make the move a bit earlier in life. 

Important Considerations

Additionally, for the kids who progress a bit faster, it is important to note that doctors recommend that you abstain from jogging with your baby in the stroller throughout the first six months of their life. Prior to this age, they cannot handle sharp turns and quick movements. These can lead to neck injuries such as whiplash, even if the stroller is designed for this type of activity. 

Furthermore, for those families with more than one child, consider purchasing a double stroller that has infant carrier capabilities. Brands like Maxi-Cosi make a fantastic product called the Lila Duo Seat Kit.

This allows parents to transform their original stroller into a double. Not only will it accommodate an older baby who is ready to sit up in the stroller, but it will house an infant carrier for your newborn. 

Stroller Safety Tips

Don’t Hang Items On The Stroller

It is important to remember that this transport system serves as a safety device first and foremost. Your stroller may have a storage basket for basic baby supplies, but it is not a place to hang your purse or diaper bag. This will lead to the stroller tipping over. 

In fact, 16% of stroller-related accidents are caused by travel device falling over. While most children only sustain bumps and bruises, approximately 25% of the injuries are more serious involving traumatic brain injuries and concussions.

Use Built-In Safety Devices (And Common Sense)

Moreover, always stay next to the stroller when your baby is inside. Make sure to utilize the parking brake whenever you stop.  In addition, your child needs to be buckled in at all times, even when the stroller is not moving. 

It is also important to register your stroller and carrier as soon as you purchase them. This can ensure that you get informed when recalls arise, allowing you to discontinue use immediately. Furthermore, take the time to fully read the instructions to your carrier and stroller. While this may seem tedious, every brand has different recommendations that are important to note prior to use. 

Leave Sleep For Their Crib Or Bassinet

Most importantly, before the age of one, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is a real concern that can come on unexpectedly. Sadly, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “about 3,700 infants die every year from sleep-related deaths, which include sudden infant death syndrome, accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed, and other ill-defined deaths.” 

The best way to prevent these devastating incidents is to never let your child sleep in a carrier or stroller while unattended. Also, remember that the stroller and car seat base keep the infant car seat level. When it is out of these devices, positional asphyxia becomes a real threat. 

Moreover, health experts further note that even under supervision, you should not let them sleep in these devices for more than two hours at a time. This is extremely important when you let your baby sit up in a stroller. This is because these built-in safety features disappear.

Avoid Distractions 

Some distractions are inevitable. However, staying off of your cell phone is the number one way to keep your baby safe from parent-inflicted accidents. Once your baby can sit up in a stroller, they are more likely to be facing towards the pavement, and not you. This makes the dangers associated with a tumble more serious. 

Don’t Forget Sun Safety

Once you have moved your baby to the forward-facing position, it becomes harder to monitor how they are doing. Unfortunately, another threat that can impact your baby while they sit up in the stroller is the sun. 

Even with the canopy up, sunlight can still sneak in and the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays can cause irreparable damage to your baby’s sensitive skin. Thus, always apply baby sunscreen when your child is going to be out in the elements. 

Additionally, heat exhaustion and heat stroke can also impact children much more readily than adults. Therefore, make sure that your child is staying hydrated and monitor outside temperatures. This can help to ensure that they are not out in extreme heat for long periods of time. 

Final Thoughts

Another important detail to consider before transitioning your baby into the stroller seat is your mode of transportation. For those moms and dads who have their own vehicles, this change will not be much of an issue. However, for those who utilize public transportation such as a subway train or the Metro, you might think twice. 

Many cities do not allow the use of an open stroller in these transportation systems. Instead, you have to remove your baby from the stroller, fold it up and then enter the transportation area. If your child is not able to stand on their own, this juggling act can become quite a struggle. Sometimes waiting to move them to the big kid stroller seat can be easier on everyone when they are a bit older and more developed. 

Finally, remember that this is not a race. A baby should sit up in a stroller when they are ready to make the move. Never compare your children to others. Your child will reach this milestone when they are ready!

Welcome to my car seat blog! As a mom of 3, I put together with other hard-working moms a highly informative one-stop car seat resource, full with many reviews and buyer guides. I hope you find it invaluable. Thank you for trusting me & my team! - Keren