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Posted on Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : noon

Lesson from (overblown) Maclaren stroller recall: Don't put your fingers in the hinge

By Jen Eyer

Parents are up in arms over the Maclaren stroller recall. 

Over the past decade, a dozen children have gotten their fingertips amputated after putting them in a stroller's hinge as it was being opened or closed. On Monday, Maclaren voluntarily recalled one million strollers, saying parents should immediately stop using them until they obtain a free hinge cover from the company. The Consumer Product Safety Commission offered the same warning, and they're now looking into other stroller brands as well.

While I understand that it would be awful for this to happen to your child, and I think it's great that they're offering a retrofit that makes the hinge safer, I'm going to say it: I think this story is overblown.

As a parent, I would expect something really bad to happen if my child put a hand anywhere near the stroller hinge as I'm opening or closing it. If one of their fingertips had been amputated — God forbid — I certainly wouldn't think it's the company's fault. That hinge is meant to be strong. Little fingers are not. It's called an accident, not a product defect.

But parents everywhere are now being quoted as saying they won't use their stroller until they get the replacement part, while others are saying they're so mad, they won't support Maclaren anymore, period.

And, according to the New York Times, in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Park Slope — center of the helicopter parenting universe — even parents who feel it's safe to keep using their Maclaren stroller say they won't, for fear of being labeled a "bad parent."

I think it's telling that in the UK, where Maclaren is headquartered, the company isn't issuing a recall or even offering to sell the hinge cover to customers — despite one official report of an injury occurring there. After consulting with trading standards officials, they determined that risk of injury is non-existent when the strollers are used correctly.

From the BBC:

Maclaren said in a statement: "As further reassurance we have updated our operating instructions and placed a warning label on the buggy to ensure that customers take care and keep children away from the buggy when it is being folded or unfolded. 
"Our advice is that consumers should take the same level of caution and care as when opening or closing a car door or any other moving part that can be found in many other baby and toddler products."

This Q & A in the Guardian alludes to the fact that we're just a little crazy here in the U.S.:

Why are the products being recalled in the US and not the UK?

A spokeswoman for Maclaren says: "The US is considered a different market with different requirements", but would not comment further on why the two markets were being treated so differently. Maclaren's spokeswoman says the buggies "exceeded European standards, which are higher than those in the US."

Let's call it what it is: different market = litigious market. Instead of telling parents to use common sense and keep their kids' fingers away from the hinges, we had to have a massive recall and a lot of mass hysteria.

I think it's great that they're offering the hinge covers, but I also think the advice about not using the stroller until you get the covers is based purely on the threat of litigation.

Lawyers are already being solicited on Anyone want to wager on how long before someone files a lawsuit?

Jen Eyer is on the Community Team at She can be reached at 734-623-2577 or, or you can visit her at 301 East Liberty. "Save My Sanity" is an occasional feature looking at "scare" stories in the media.


Kent Jocque

Fri, Nov 13, 2009 : 3:46 p.m.

As an individual I would be hesitant about diminishing my rights to bring legal action against possibly negligent behavior. Our system is designed for us to to be able to turn to the judiciary to decide these matters. The option would be to leave it up to the legislative (laws) and executive (enforcement) branches to decide them.


Fri, Nov 13, 2009 : 11:28 a.m.

Hey Doc, you got me thinking about what a $600 stroller should look like. I started to mentally go down the path of the Homer Simpson-mobile, but I think if Segway starter making strollers, we might not have to fold them up anymore.


Thu, Nov 12, 2009 : 11:44 a.m.

The stroller thing is not as rdiculous as ladders. Why do you think a ladder costs so much money? Because they put in the cost for defending lawsuits from all the people who fall off of them.

Concerned Citizen

Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 9:02 p.m.

"Remove child before folding"...... This article recalled to mind this admonishment from a stroller manufacturer long ago. It was a nominee for an award given out by an advertisers group to "prize winning" disclaimers. ( It seemed to me at the time that the double entrendre of "Remove child before collapsing" would have been even better! :-)!


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 4:13 p.m.

I had forwarded a news link about this to some of my family in London who bought a Maclaren stroller here during their visit to Ann Arbor in September. Basically I got a call 2 hrs later thanking me for my concern but laughing at me for getting caught up in the hype. It's sad that Maclaren is forced to take such a huge PR hit rather than risk frivilous litigation that would probably be succesful.


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 3:52 p.m.

Mclaren must have made a decision that the likelihood of this happening was reasonable and forseeable. I can't ereaaly forsee it happening if you only have one kid, the few events probably occured in situations where there two or more kids using or playing with the stroller. One kid is way too easy to watch.


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 2:46 p.m.

This is just preposterous. Whatever happened to common sense? It's almost scary to read the warning labels on products because you know they list those things because people have or will do them. Kind of how my hair dryer warning label states: Do Not Use While Sleeping. Ok. Thanks!


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 2:34 p.m.

Great article Jen! I am pretty sure that if I folded up one of my kid in the frame of my Kelty Jogging Stroller, I would probably be jogging solo for at least a couple of weeks. But that would be an accident more than it would be anyone's fault. Of course my kids would say, "Why did you do that?" And I might say, "Darn you stroller manufacturers!" and I would probably go on to tell my child that it was an accident. Apparently, if I was British, I would simply mutter something like, "Bollocks!" What I find really interesting here is the recall. Voluntary product recalls come in all shapes and sizes. From what I can tell, the CPSC doesn't really have regulations that are specific to strollers. Don't get me wrong. I believe in consumer safety. I can see where action may be necessary for a coffee maker that poses a fire risk. But I wonder how many government dollars were spent on recalling coffee mugs because they get too hot...

Mona Shand

Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 2:18 p.m.

I hear Florida is recalling the mouths of more than 1 million alligators for a similar defect. :-) Couldn't agree more with your assessment!


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 1:33 p.m.

Anyone else want to wager on how Maclaren survives as a company? This may kill them.