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When Were Strollers Invented? The Interesting And Comical History Of Baby Strollers

Today we spend a lot of time searching for the best stroller for Disney to bring our kiddo to the magical Disney theme parks, or a sturdy stroller we can take on the beach or pull behind a bike. But did you ever think about when were strollers invented?

Parents finally had a way to take their baby with them without having to carry them. Sure, moms and dads had been traveling with their little ones for centuries, though it wasn’t always practical, comfortable or safe.

If you enjoy the convenience and comfort of modern strollers and especially modern travel systems, then you should check out this article to learn more about the invention of strollers and what life was like before them. It certainly is eye opening, and will likely leave you feeling a whole lot more appreciative of your 21st century strollers design.

How Did Parents Carry Children Before the First Baby Stroller?

Parents have always had to take their children with them. Just as you can’t leave your little one when you go to the grocery store, centuries ago moms and dads didn’t leave their baby at home while they traveled to the local market. Unfortunately, when they had to bring along their kids they had a much more difficult time than we do today.

The easiest way was to carry children around on their hips, which is still common in modern times. While this may have been practical around the homestead, it wasn’t the most comfortable when traveling long distances. Which, likely brought about the creation of the baby sling. Wrapping fabric about their bodies, women could carry their children on their back, front, or sides.

However, as transportation advanced, parents looked for new ways to transport their kiddos. One such way was a basket on a bicycle. These bicycle carriers probably weren’t very safe, even if they were convenient or parents and thrilling for children. Thankfully, putting your baby in your bicycle basket didn’t seem to be too terribly popular.

Nevertheless, there always has been and will be the need to take your child along with you.

Advent of the First Baby Stroller: Who Invented The Baby Stroller?

So, when were strollers invented and who invented the baby buggy that most undoubtedly changed parents’ lives?

In 1733 a man by the name of William Kent. This architect of the Royal Garden wasn’t a dad looking for an easy way to tote his kids around town. He was actually asked to create a device by the Duke of Devonshire, who needed to transport his brood.

These early, feature-lacking antique strollers could only be afforded by royalty, like Queen Victoria who owned three carriages. The first baby carriage didn’t have a detachable baby seat to hold a sleeping baby or to carry young infants.

In fact, these early strollers probably look nothing like the stroller you’re envisioning. Picture a shell shaped basket on wheels being pulled by a goat or small pony. [1] Initially, they didn’t have a push handle, brakes, or any features we recognize today. He was an American inventor, but the US wasn’t as accepting of his ideas, so he took it to England, where the Queen approved of these baby carriages.

William Kent’s luxurious stroller design - When Were Strollers Invented History of Baby Strollers – Baby Journey
William Kent’s luxurious stroller design. Source: fiveminutehistory.com

The First Stroller Patent

Surprisingly, the person who invented the baby carriage was not the person who filed for the first patent. The first stroller patent was applied for in 1889 by William Richardson. [2]

He added more to William Kent’s1700s stroller and 1800 baby strollers by adding things like recline and a canopy. However, it was largely still just a basket on a frame made of metal with wheels. As these strollers became more and more popular, he decided to actually apply for a patent.

The plans for the first reversible baby buggy - When Were Strollers Invented History of Baby Strollers – Baby Journey
The plans for the first reversible baby buggy. Source: aaregistry.org

Who Invented The First Bassinet Stroller?

From these old style strollers, it wasn’t a huge leap to a bassinet stroller. William Kent is thought to be the “father” of bassinet strollers because his model was essentially a basket to lay a baby in on a frame with wheels. [3] Many of these vintage pram strollers were similar to today’s bassinet prams in that the basket could be removed and set down without waking the baby.

As you may have guessed, however, it wasn’t long before parents desired more convenience features. Additionally, older babies and children didn’t want to ride laying down all the time. So, the baby carriage stroller started to get updates and overhauls.

Who Invented The First Reversible Stroller?

William Richardson, the person who filed the first patent, actually invented the first reversible stroller. [4] This was a man, probably a parent, who knew what he was doing! His bassinet attachment could face backward, toward the person pushing, or forward.

In order to make his bassinet reversible, it had to include a special joint between it and the frame. The joint turned out to be helpful in more ways than one.

It allowed the wheels to have a better range of motion, as they were no longer rigidly affixed to the frame. And so, strollers became much more agile. Or, about as maneuverable as you would expect a 1900 baby stroller to be, but it was advanced for the time.

Who Invented The First Umbrella Stroller?

Classic strollers then stayed relatively the same throughout the early and middle 1900s. Sure, your baby’s pram didn’t look like the gilded baby carriages fit for Cinderella any more, but the average 1950s stroller was still relatively big and bulky.

Until, one 1960 baby stroller boke onto the market. It was compact and lightweight and looked quite similar to our umbrella strollers today.

This sleek model was invented by none other than William MacLaren, of the MacLaren brand still producing baby products in modern times. He was a former aviation engineer who used his aeronautical skills to create a foldable, lightweight, compact, yet strong stroller for on-the-go parents.

Lady posing with a baby in the MacLaren B-01 Baby Buggy - When Were Strollers Invented History of Baby Strollers – Baby Journey
The MacLaren B-01 Baby Buggy. Source: maclarenbaby.com

Who Invented The First Jogging Stroller?

Around twenty-years after parents were introduced to a new convenient, umbrella stroller design, a niche stroller entered the market. In 1984, the first jogging stroller was invented by Phil Baechler. [5] He was the owner of Racing Strollers Inc. who advertised the “Baby Jogger”.

Initially, not all parents were eager to exercise with their children. But over the next two decades the idea gained popularity. This new, all-terrain stroller was nothing like old strollers, and parents quickly learned it was practical for much more than running.

He also made a two-seater version that was the best double stroller for running on the market at the time. Baby Jogger is still around today and thriving!

Who Invented The Double Stroller?

We don’t know who exactly invented the first double stroller, but a double baby carriage was referred to in an 1881 novel. By the 1950’s there were references to double decker strollers and twin strollers in magazines and newspapers.

Harris W. Jones filed the first patent for a two-seater stroller, though it was little more than two seats on a metal frame. [6]

By the late 1960’s to mid 1980s, double strollers began to look like the models we’re familiar with nowadays. MacLaren’s umbrella stroller invention could be turned into a double stroller by clipping two single strollers together. Phil Baechler’s Baby Jogger also came in a double stroller version.

How the Term “Stroller” Came To Be?

You may have noticed we have used a lot of terms in this article, from pram and carriage to buggy and stroller. This is because the word “stroller” is only popularized in America. The “stroller” was invented in Europe, where they often refer to these items as pushchairs or prams.

All three words mean the same, and originate from words (like stroll) who’s meaning is “one who wanders or one who strolls”. As strollers became popular, companies began using flashier names for marketing purposes, such as “jogger” and “baby buggy”.

History of Baby Strollers: What Did Baby Buggy Look Like In The Past?

Now that we’ve covered the history of strollers, let’s take a look at how these baby strollers are like in the past to the more modern ones with notable design improvement along the way!

1700’s strollers

William Kent vintage baby stroller - When Were Strollers Invented History of Baby Strollers – Baby Journey
William Kent stroller. Source: Best Buy Blog

1890’s Strollers

William H. Richardson’s stroller - When Were Strollers Invented History of Baby Strollers – Baby Journey
William H. Richardson’s stroller. Source: McClung Museum
A stroller pulled by a goat in the past - When Were Strollers Invented History of Baby Strollers – Baby Journey
A stroller pulled by a goat. Source: 5 Minute History

Early 1900’s

A young boy and a baby posing with an early 1900s pram with bassinet - When Were Strollers Invented History of Baby Strollers – Baby Journey
An early 1900s pram with bassinet. Source: 5 Minute History
 A woman carrying a baby posing near a 1920s stroller - When Were Strollers Invented History of Baby Strollers – Baby Journey
A 1920s stroller. Source: Pinterest

Mid 1900’s

Illustration of a variety of 1950s strollers - When Were Strollers Invented History of Baby Strollers – Baby Journey
A variety of 1950s strollers. Source: Click Americana
Photo of an early umbrella stroller - When Were Strollers Invented History of Baby Strollers – Baby Journey
An early umbrella stroller. Source: Pinterest

Late 1900’s

A family of three pushing the first baby jogger - When Were Strollers Invented History of Baby Strollers – Baby Journey
The first baby jogger. Source: Baby Jogger
A father posing with three babies in 1990s strollers - When Were Strollers Invented History of Baby Strollers – Baby Journey
Strollers of the 1990s. Source: The Blessing Counter

Modern Strollers

Photo of Stokke stroller, a feature rich modern stroller - When Were Strollers Invented History of Baby Strollers – Baby Journey
A feature rich modern stroller. Source: Stokke
Photo of a stroller design prototype for a smart stroller with “hands-free” option - When Were Strollers Invented History of Baby Strollers – Baby Journey
A design prototype for a smart stroller with “hands-free” option. Source: Today

Takeaway

The man who invented the baby buggy probably could have never imagined our lightweight, feature-packed, modern baby strollers. The baby buggy has come a long way, and we hope you enjoyed looking back at the journey! Be sure to ask us any questions and leave some thoughts you may have in the comments.

When Were Baby Strollers Invented History of Strollers pinterest – Baby Journey

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