Having little kids means needing a way to get them around. As most parents (and their aching backs) will tell you, pushing children in a stroller sure beats carrying them, especially as they grow and get heavier.

For some families, multiple kids means multiple strollers. Other families may choose a tandem stroller that holds more than one child. Runners may need a jogging stroller. And then there are fold-up strollers for when you're on the road.

With so much riding on those strollers — both literally and figuratively — how do you make sure you pick the right ones to keep your child safe? Follow these tips.

Check for recalls. A top brand name is not a guarantee of safety. Some of the biggest brands in the business have had recalls because strollers collapsed or had unprotected hinges that lopped off little fingers. Search the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) website to see if there has been a recall or if there are other noted safety issues with your stroller. A recall alone does not mean a product is unsafe, but it does mean that you need to be sure the issue raised in the recall, such as the need for protective covers on hinges, has been addressed before using the stroller.

Be wary of second-hand strollers. Child safety experts are generally not in favor of hand-me-down or second-hand gear for babies and infants. They’re easy on your budget, but their safety can be hard to gauge. One problem with using baby-focused gear purchased by someone else is you're less likely to know the exact make and model, so if a recall happens, you might miss it. The solution: Take every step you can to identify the manufacturer and model as well as when the stroller was purchased. Then check the CSPC website for recalls.

Use a stroller appropriate for your child's age and size. For instance, newborns, who must lie down, cannot use a stroller designed for a toddler.

Try the brake lock before you buy. Make sure it's easy to use and holds the wheels tightly.

Be sure the stroller is stable. Some lightweight strollers have a tendency to be tippy. You don't want your little one in a stroller that can easily topple. Jogging strollers need extra balance and stability. Read reviews and check SaferProducts.gov to see if other runners have had problems with a particular model..

Check the leg holes. Make sure they aren’t too large for your child. Older strollers in particular often have leg holes that are too big, which allow an infant to slip through and potentially get trapped.

Make sure it’s certified. Look for a certification from ASTM International or the Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association on the stroller to ensure it was made to industry standards.

Finally, try out any stroller before you buy it. Just like you would test-drive a car, test-drive a stroller. Make sure it feels sturdy, handles well and is the right height and size for both you and your little one.

Mitch Lipka is a consumer columnist and product safety expert. He was the 2011 recipient of the "Kids Best Friend Award" from Kids In Danger for his commitment to reporting on children’s product safety.