Bumbo Recall and the Perils of Elevated Seats

The many recalls for the Bumbo baby seat – including the most recent, calling for installation of a seatbelt on the current bumbo seat, brings to mind a pet peeve: parental misconception that any infant seat intended for the floor will be equally stable on an elevated surface.

At my clinic, it is not an uncommon sight to walk into a patient’s room to find parents sitting in chairs with their infant carseat placed on its own on the examination table. The infant in this case is not in the parents’ arms – as I would hope – but is instead strapped into the carseat.  And this, my friends, is a big no-no. I immediately put the infant seat on the floor, and we talk.  While this all-too-frequent incident is a scary thing for me, it gives the fortuitous opportunity to discuss a safety issue as it is happening.

It’s an easy mistake to make.  Carseats, bouncers, and frequently Bumbos have a lovely stable appearance and nice wide bases. If I can put a lamp on a table, why not a baby seat? Well, the lamp has one important thing missing: a baby. Baby is a most unstable device; even little mini infant baby.  And while only our pocketbooks and vacuums will make noise if a lamp falls off a table, the baby is a different story altogether. Do you and your baby a favor and, never put a baby seating device on an elevated surface, unless it is specifically intended to be there (e.g. baby high chair seat adapters)!

Generally speaking, I am not a fan of Bumbo seat. I would not want to put a baby in a device that forces a sitting position while developmentally the child is not able to sit unsupported on his own. I’d rather just have the baby figure it out themselves and eventually sit up. But the bottom line is that the Bumbo seat was never meant to be on an elevated surface. What makes me uncomfortable about this whole recall to install seatbelts, is that I fear that it will do little to change parental behavior. The company’s initial move to place more warning stickers on Bumbo seats did nothing to decrease injuries.  Imagine the scenario now: parent puts child in a seatbelted Bumbo and then parent leaves the room, only to return to find that the child has managed to tip over the Bumbo, and is now partly entrapped because they are now belted into the seat.

I hope that parents take care to observe their children when using such devices. Better, still: just don’t buy them.  They are not necessary so why spend the money?