Want to know the interesting history of baby strollers, their invention, and the evolution from the 1700s, 1800s to 1920s, 1950s to modern strollers? This post provides the most detailed information on the history of strollers.
This post is part of our educational series on the history of baby gear here at MotherhoodHQ such as baby monitors, car seats, and baby events such as baby showers. In this article, we focus on baby strollers and their history.
Before stroller, parents carried babies using slings or primitive back-backs similar to the ones shown in the photo alongside.
It is funny how today’s parents just walk into a baby shop, sample the hundreds of baby strollers paraded in the shop, and voila, out they go with the most suitable stroller. What most of us parents fail to understand is the long journey of innovation that the essential baby gear has had.
1773: William Kent Invention
The first use of baby strollers is traceable back to 1733 when the Duke of Devonshire asked William Kent to build a means of transporting his children around. Kent built the baby stroller in the form of a shell-shaped basket on wheels that was decorated heavily. The Kent-designed baby stroller had a harness that was attached to either goats or small ponies that pulled the baby carries around. Also, the baby stroller had a spring suspension to promote a baby’s comfort.
A Horse-Drawn Baby Carriage
Baby Carriages Come to America: 1830s
The manufacture of baby carriages spread to the US by the 1830s; Benjamin Potter Crandall is recognized as the first American to make and sell baby strollers in the US. The carriages were made mainly of wood or wicker and joined by costly brass joints. Also, the baby strollers were decorated heavily with works of art, and the models were named after royalty such as princess Princess and Duchess. Jesse Armour Crandall, Benjamin Potter’s son, accessed several patents for stroller improvements and additions to the existing models. For example, he added brakes, carriages, manufactured foldable models, and stroller umbrella hangers.
The strollers became so popular that Queen Victoria bought three baby carriages from the Hitchings Baby Store.
The popularity of baby strollers meant more innovations, which ushered in the manufacture of modern baby strollers from 1900 to today.
1900 Baby Stroller
June 1889 ushered a new era in the development of baby strollers; William H. Richardson, an African American, designed and patented the first reversible stroller such it could face out or in towards the baby stroller pusher.
Also, William’s baby stroller invention increased maneuverability because each wheel could move separately.
The 1900s baby stroller was mainly known as the “baby buggy.”
The use of baby strollers became widespread among all economic classes in this era, mainly because of the improvements that made them safer and the assumed benefits of providing light and fresh air to the child. For instance, charity organizations donated baby strollers to needy mothers.
Antique Baby Stroller of the 1900s
Carriages of the 1900s were usually very ornate, had wire wheels, an extra trim, and most had a parasol to protect the baby from the sun.
Prams became very popular in the 1920s owing to their larger wheels and the incorporation of a braking system.
The prams were deeper to prevent the baby from climbing out of the carriage and had sturdier, lighter, and, consequently, safer frames.
Baby Stroller, the 1920s Style
1950 Baby Strollers
Baby strollers were a must-have in 1950, especially after Queen Victoria purchased one for her sixth newborn child.
Also, Giussepe Perego popularised baby strollers when he founded the Peg Perego in 1949 that design strollers use stretchy fabric instead of sheet metal and wicker.
Lightweight, convertible, and luxury models of baby strollers entered the market in 1950. A & F Saward and Silver Cross are some companies that started manufacturing custom-made prams in the 1950s, the British Royalty being one of the loyal customers.
1959 Baby’s Royale pram made by A & F Saward
The 1950s to Present
It is Owen Maclaren who built the first actual umbrella baby stroller in 1965, however, after hearing his daughter was traveling from England to America with a heavy pram. Owen built a stroller with an aluminum frame and blue and white stripes.
Owen’s lightweight design of lightweight strollers continues to be the muse of modern baby strollers.
In 1970, parents preferred more basic baby strollers that had detachable seats.
The modern baby strollers are now built with new and safer features. And more accessories.
In 1980, Kezo Kassai invented a collapsible baby stroller that could also increase the size the length forward. The stroller’s handle could be pivoted to change the direction of the stroller depending on the sitting position of the baby, either forward-facing position or back-facing position.
In 1981, Henry Fleisher built a baby stroller that had a collapsible frame using slider slots and pins joint mechanism. The wheels were not rotatable and used a single axle to maintain the wheels in place.
Modern Baby Strollers
Today, parents can choose their preferred baby stroller depending on their budget, use, and aesthetic value. There are lightweight baby strollers that are suitable for traveling, twin baby strollers, double baby strollers for your baby and toddler, and full-size strollers that are suitable for all terrains.
The most useful features of modern baby strollers include:
- Either front or rear-facing seats
- The folding mechanism
Modern baby folders have either one-hand fold, umbrella fold, or compact fold mechanisms.
- Compatibility with travel systems
- Height adjustable handle
- Brake mechanism
Modern baby strollers have either hand brakes or foot brakes that can either be a front wheel, back wheel, or all-wheel brakes.
Hand brakes are most appropriate when it is impossible to press the brake lever by foot, while the foot brakes are convenient when a parent has his or her hand full.
Modern baby strollers have chest straps, waist straps, and crotch straps that increase a baby’s safety.
Modern baby strollers have either a 5-point harness, 3-point harness, or 2-point harness. A five-point harness is the safest for smaller babies, a 3-point harness is safest for babies who sit independently and toddlers, and a 2-point harness is safest for toddlers and older children.
Choose a baby stroller that has either air-filled or foam-filled tires instead of plastic tires to give your baby or toddler the best quality ride. Foam-filled tires ensure minimal jerks and shocks, and cannot get punctured, unlike air-filled tires.
Also, choose a baby stroller that has large wheels and an excellent suspension to prevent your baby from getting rocked a lot if you plan to take your baby for walks.
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Kate Nash is a mother of two and a child mobility expert with a great passion for educating parents about car seat safety. She writes a lot about the changing car seat safety laws in different states and the safety rating of different infant and convertible car seats based on NHTSA and CR safety ratings. She is knowledgeable on all car seats, travel systems, and strollers available in North America. She is a recognized baby gear expert and can be reached on her email, email@example.com.