The history of the stroller – from then to now

Parents throughout history have always faced the same challenges when it came to transporting babies

At phil&teds we’re parents too, so we understand the challenges you’re going to face in the parenting day. The baby carriage has been around for 3 centuries and was originally adopted by aristocracy, the rich and the powerful. Now, baby buggies and prams are an essential item for every new parent. We’re going to touch on the origins of the baby carriage, perambulator and talk about the history of the stroller.

1900s-pulling-history of the stroller

The history of the stroller – pre stroller

Prior to the creation of the stroller, babies were carried in slings, baskets, front & back packs. The origins of baby wearing go as far back as ancient Egypt, during the time of the pharaohs. The first official recording of baby wearing appeared in 1306 when Giotto depicted Mary carrying baby Jesus in a sling.

giotto mary carrying baby jesus in sling history of the stroller

The stroller had its beginnings in the 1700’s

William Kent, a landscape architect designed the first stroller. It was created for the Duke of Devonshire to amuse his children while in transit.

history of the stroller - William Kent

William’s baby carriages were considered luxury items and were used by wealthy families. They were designed to be pulled by ponies, dogs and goats, rather than pushed by a human.

The history of the stroller – push it!

The stroller didn’t catch on until the next century when Benjamin Potter Crandall manufactured a new design. What made it different from the William Kent design was that it could be pushed! The Crandall design was rejected by the main stream public and was once again considered a luxury item for the elite. His son, Jesse Amour Crandall took over the family business and made some additions to the original blueprint. These included a brake, a model that folded and a number of parasols and accessories. Queen Victoria publicly purchased 3 of them which made the stroller a must have item for mothers all over the country.

The perambulator – a historical innovation

During the 19th century many different nursery products emerged and strollers were popular with all economic classes. As parks and recreational spaces were equipped with pavements, family strolls became popular. Also, advances in science trumpeted the benefits of getting out in the sun and breathing fresh air. This encouraged the advancement of stroller technology.

1850s-history of the stroller perambulator

Charles Burton created the first recognisable pram called the ‘perambulator’. The perambulator had a 3 wheel push design. It looked a little bit like Grandpa’s favourite couch with big spoked wheels. Customers found it hard to use and gave feedback like: ‘it’s unwieldy’ and ‘I can’t control it’. Feeling rejected but still optimistic, Burton took his design to England. He entered the market to little applaud until the royal family started using them. It quickly became a popular design that was widely distributed in the UK. The UK uses the word ‘pram’ to describe a stroller because of the ‘perambulator’.

reversible baby carriage stroller history

Another notable design improvement came from the USA. William H. Richardson, an African American man patented an innovation on the baby carriage. He designed a mechanism to reverse the seat, giving parents the ability to forward and rear face. Wheels could also be independently spun, making it more manoeuvrable.

History of the stroller – expansion

During the late 19th century strollers started to evolve to accommodate multiple births, particularly twins. The earliest models resembled a trolley and had a long wheel base. They were appropriate for children of 2 different ages and were popular until the outbreak of World War 1.

baby boomer double stroller history

The next big innovation in the history of the stroller was the invention of the umbrella stroller. It had a foldable aluminium frame that was designed by an avionics engineer in the 60’s.

The aluminium stroller design essentially laid the foundation for modern day baby carriages. Today they come in all shapes and sizes, for multiple children or compact enough to fit in overhead luggage compartments.

It’s nice to reflect on the history of the stroller and know where they came from and compare them to where they are today. Check out our history of car seats here.

Please share images of your antique strollers in the comments section.

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