When I had my first baby, the Bumbo was all the rage and seemed to one of the 'in products' that parents just 'had to have'. However, whilst Bumbo seats have a very loyal following of fans, it also has a good number of non believers, and I fall into the latter category for many reasons.
Image: Peter Rowan, Flickr
I was leant a Bumbo seat to try with my first child when he was around 6 months old, and within a couple of weeks of trying it out, I was relieved I'd not spent any money on an actual purchase.
What is the Bumbo Seat?
The Bumbo is a funky colourful piece of baby furniture, that looks a little like a padded potty, and is built to support the baby in the upright seated position as soon as the baby is able to hold their head themselves. It can be purchased with or without a tray, and many parents start their kids off in the Bumbo around the time that solids are introduced as a comfier option than a high chair. Made out of high density foam, the Bumbo is portable, easy to wipe clean and provides the baby with a seated position from which they have a great view of the world. Bumbo advise that this product is suitable for babies aged 3 - 14 months.
The Bumbo: Image: Melissa Jonas, Flickr
From my friends who have loved their Bumbo (and there are many), they have gushed over the fact that this little seat is easy to take with them to the park or a friends house, without having to cart over an entire high chair. They've also said it's a godsend when they are cooking dinner, and want their baby to sit still and not be underfoot. For when they've started weaning their child, they've enjoyed sitting the Bumbo on the table top for easy access which has meant that the baby is all part of the action too. I've certainly seen a good share of very content and happy babies sat in their Bumbo, this just wasn't my personal experience.
The Negatives/My Verdict
Sitting a baby of 3 -6 months who are only just getting the hang of head control just didn't look or sit right for me. The aim of the Bumbo is to help a child sit unassisted and unaided, but this is often well before they have accomplished this developmental milestone themselves. For my own experience, I tried the Bumbo out when my son was 6 months old; and as he was already a big baby, he found the Bumbo very confining and it was with a bit of force that I would get him in and out of the thing. My son had gorgeous rolls of baby fat thighs, and so getting him in and out was a horrible manouvere and I literally felt like I was trapping him into a device just to keep him still. Perhaps this is a better seat for smaller babies who you don't have to jam into the seat?
I read an interesting article by the Washington Post that cited injuries relating to the use of the Bumbo where children had fallen out of the Bumbo (from a raised surface), sometimes resulting in fractured skulls. A voluntary recall of the Bumbo was put in place after this, to add in a safety restraint for improved safety. If this wasn't enough food for thought, the article by Rebecca Talmud, on Mama OT here certainly convinced me of some more of the pitfalls of the Bumbo relating to poor posture and positioning of the baby.
Safety advice now discourages the Bumbo being placed on a raised surface due to the number of accidents. Image: Ryan Harvey, Flickr
Love it or hate it, there are definitely some warning signs out there that improper use can be harmful to your child. With a price of $45, I think there are better items to spend your money on.
To find out more about the Bumbo, you can visit their webpage here.