What an exciting time watching your newborn grow as they graduate from infancy, hit new developmental milestones & begin to develop their unique (and adorable) personality. You may notice them becoming more curious about the world around them, more playful (especially with you!), checking themselves out in the mirror (who doesn’t), responding to their own name & sitting up on their own.
At this time, you find yourself wondering when to put baby in the stroller without a car seat. While there is no set age to make this transition (as EVERY baby is different), the general advice is: once they are able to sit up unassisted, they will be able to sit in the stroller without their car seat. This happens around 6 months of age (sometimes sooner, sometimes later).
In this blog we will discuss when to put your baby in the stroller without a car seat, how to help strengthen their neck muscles & how to keep your baby safe while in their stroller. Let’s roll right into it!
Legal disclaimer: this is by no means medical advice. If you are uncertain if your baby should be in a stroller without a car seat or have other questions about their developmental milestones - please contact your pediatrician. Always do what is best for you & your baby!
When To Put Your Baby In A Stroller
When your baby can sit up in the stroller is not only an exciting milestone for you (since you can now use a lighter stroller for everyday outings), but for your little one because they can now look around and explore the world around them. We want to help make this transition as simple as possible, so we’re answering everything you need to know about when to put your baby in the stroller without a car seat.
Age of Baby
Parents can begin to transition their baby to a stroller (without a car seat) between 4-6 months, with 6 months being the average age. Because this is dependent on the strength of the baby’s neck muscles (discussed below), most manufacturers recommend 6 months+ if the stroller does not lay completely flat (like a bassinet)
Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you do not use a stroller without a car seat before 4 months old because your baby could fall asleep and move into positions that could potentially be dangerous.
Strength of Neck Muscles
One of the most important factors when moving your little one into the stroller without a car seat is the strength of their neck muscles - can you baby hold their head up on their own? Secondly, can they hold their head up for an extended period of time?
The strength of their neck muscles is important because for the first few months of their life, the muscles on each side of their neck (there are about a dozen of each side) aren’t developed enough to hold their head up. Once they get older (about 3 months old), you will notice them beginning to lift their heads, at 6 months they should be able to sit up unassisted and turn their heads - this is one of the first major milestones in your little one's life! - Natasha Trentacosta, MD, via Insider
Some babies can begin to use the stroller as early as 4 months, but make sure you choose a stroller that reclines so it can help support their head and neck when they get tired. Here are a few at home activities to check the strength of your baby’s neck:
- Hold your baby against your chest with their head on your shoulder. Are they able to pick their head up off your shoulder?
- During tummy time, can your baby push up with their arms and lift their head to look around (& even reach for objects)?
- When your baby sits up, does their head follow and can they look around?
How Can I Help Strengthen The Neck Muscles?
Try playing this game: Babycenter recommends putting your baby on their back on the floor, and slowly pull them up by their hands to a sitting position. Slowly ease their back down, and repeat. They should be able to hold their head more or less in line with the rest of their body as you pull them up. You can also try different activities during tummy time, gentle stretching & various games!
Can I Put Baby In The Stroller Without A Car Seat Earlier?
Yes, but the stroller must lay completely flat because as mentioned above, younger babies can fall asleep and twist into dangerous positions while sleeping. According to Dr. Leah Alexander, MD, FAAP “Prior to the age of 4 months, I recommend strollers in which the infant lies flat. Once you notice your infant raising his or her head, doing a “belly crunch” maneuver, it is ok to use a stroller with a raised back.”
Keeping Your Baby Safe In A Stroller
Now that your baby is ridin’ solo (aka sans car seat), you may be wondering how to keep them safe in their stroller. To ease your mind, in 2014, the CPSC approved a new federal mandatory standard intended to improve the safety of infant’s and children’s carriages and strollers. These standards were put in place to resolve safety problems on strollers made before 2014 such as: pinched fingers, cut/cut off fingers, faulty wheels, parking brake failures, locking mechanism failures, safety restraint problems & poorly built products (if you have a stroller made before 2014 check the recall list)
If you have a stroller made after 2014: your stroller should meet (or exceed) these standards and you can rest assured it has gone through rigorous testing to ensure a safe product for your little one!
Aside from mandatory safety requirements, here is how you can keep your baby safe when strolling:
- Don’t Hang Bags On The Handlebar: Although tempting, avoid hanging diaper bags, purses or shopping bags over the handle as it could become unstable and tip over (unless otherwise specified by the manufacturer) - instead place them in the basket underneath
- Don’t Overload Pockets, Baskets Or Cup Holder(s)
- Use The Harness: Always buckle your little one in when strolling
- Be Cautious When Folding/Unfolding: Be sure that little fingers, toes, faces & noses are clear when folding & unfolding your stroller as they can become pinched in the hinges and other folding mechanisms
- Engage Brakes: When parked, always use the brakes
- Follow Weight And Age Guidelines: As recommended by the manufacturer. Most hold up to 50lbs, some as much as 75lbs - check your user manual for more info
- Never Leave Your Child Unattended: They will miss you too much. And it’s not safe.
- Only Use Manufacturer Approved Additional Seats: Some strollers offer additional seats/accessories for multiple children - only use these accessories with the manufacturer recommendations!
According to the American Academy Of Pediatrics, always purchase a stroller that was manufactured in the last few years & always register your product once purchased (this is important should your stroller ever be recalled)
Oh baby, you’re ready to roll!
When to put baby in a stroller without a car seat is a question many first time parents have - don’t worry, you’re not alone! You’re ready to stroll car seat free if your baby:
- Is 6 months old
- Has strong neck muscles
- Has the ability to hold head up on their own
- Doesn’t fall asleep in dangerous positions that would restrict breathing
If your baby hits all these marks, congratulations you’ve reached the time when can baby sit up in stroller and not need their infant seat! Now that they’ve reached this major milestone, you may also want to trade in your bulky, heavy travel system (or full size stroller) for something a little more lightweight - our Bēbee Lightweight Stroller is a great fit! Weighing in under 16lbs, it’s 1 hand fold (& unfold), XXL canopy and multi-position recline makes it the ultimate cozy and comfy ride for your little one and uber convenient for you (no more trunk reorganizing every time you want to put your stroller in). Congratulations to your little one for reaching this important milestone and happy strolling to you!
Ps: if you haven’t heard it today, you’re doing a really good job at this whole parenting thing. Keep kicking ass
At Bombi we make eco-conscious strollers that are affordable, built to last and perfect for your next adventure. With full size features, compact convenience and a fold that will make you say WTF! (aka wow that fold!) our Bēbee Lightweight Stroller is the travel stroller you’ve been dreaming of.