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These five popular stroller wagons vary in their levels of maneuverability and safety
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As a car-free parent raising two small children in a major city, I often say that our stroller is our “urban minivan.” We use it to cart around our kids, groceries, library books, packages to be shipped, and picnic gear. We sometimes even use it to take our two cats to their veterinarian appointments. Now that my children are 3 and 5, and mostly amenable to walking, we’re using the stroller less and less. But we still occasionally need a way to carry our kids and/or heavy items from place to place. The perfect solution, I thought, would be a small collapsible wagon we could stick our park or beach gear into, toss into the trunk of a Lyft or rental car, and allow a kid to ride in if they got tired.
Evidently, using a wagon to transport young children is the No. 1 mistake parents make when it comes to kids and wagons, according to Alisa Baer, MD, a pediatrician and co-founder of The Car Seat Lady: “The really big thing is to make sure that what you’re using is not just a wagon but a stroller wagon, which is designed to specific safety standards to transport children,” Baer says.
“The child should be restrained in the wagon,” whether using built-in straps or a car seat securely attached to an adapter, Baer says. If not properly secured, your little adventurers may lean or even try to climb out of the wagon, and tumble headfirst onto the pavement. Or they could sneak an arm or a leg over the side and end up caught in a wheel or other moving part, warns Ashita Kapoor, Consumer Reports’ associate director of product safety.
Another mistake: carrying cargo in the seating area of the wagon when children are inside. This is completely counter to how I see most people using wagons in my neighborhood—you can barely see the kid inside, they’re so surrounded by bags of farmers market produce. But it is a critical rule, per Baer and Kapoor: Think about whether the gear you’re putting next to your kid could pose a danger (cords, sharp objects, medication, or makeup, for example). If it’s just a diaper bag or some relatively benign groceries, it’s still breaking the rules, but you probably don’t have to panic, especially if your kid is older or less sneaky.
Appropriately chastened, I set out to evaluate some of the most popular stroller wagons to see which options might work as a functional and safe means of transportation.
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