A sad story in this week’s news — a young baby in Pennsylvania was strangled in a recalled stroller while he slept at a family gathering.  The baby was placed to sleep in the Graco Quattro Stroller.  At some point his body moved down and out between the seat and the tray, but his head was caught, strangling him.

Our hearts are with his family.  According to the story, the stroller was bought at a yard sale.  This stroller and two million more were recalled in 2010.  The manufacturer and CPSC knew of four deaths from similar circumstances.  The problem was the deaths took place in 2003-2005.  Graco kept making the stroller through 2007 and only recalled it, after considerable pressure from CPSC, in 2010.  With that kind of delay, it is no wonder so many of the recalled strollers are still in use.  Also, rather than take back the strollers, Graco is offering a flimsy fix that will not see much use from consumers.  Our advice — don’t use these strollers — with or without the fix sent by Graco.

The baby was not restrained in the stroller.  Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and never leave a baby in a stroller unattended or unrestrained.  But the obvious danger from not restraining a baby or toddler in a stroller is a fall.  It takes some study to realize that the unrestrained baby might strangle when the head is caught by the tray.  In fact, because of this, most strollers no longer pose that hazard — the gap is designed to be either large enough for the entire body and head to slip through or small enough the baby wouldn’t fit through at all.  The voluntary standard for stroller now requires this.  This stroller should have been taken off the market and redesigned after the first death in 2003.  Graco should spend time and money to publicize the belated recall and get these dangerous products out of use.

So, we urge all parents and caregivers, as the weather turns nicer and strollers are seeing more use to check their stroller against the list of recalls at CPSC.gov. Never leave a baby unattended in a stroller — they are not a safe sleep environment for extended periods. And, if you have a problem with a stroller, report it to the SaferProducts.gov database– that way consumers can learn of hazards without waiting for a reluctant company to do a recall.  Find more on stroller safety at our newly redesigned website.