Before You Use the Bumbo Seat…

Hazel sitting in her Bumbo Seat for the first..and probably the last time.

Hazel sitting in her Bumbo Seat for the first..and probably the last time.

This one-piece, adorable little seat called the Bumbo Seat is made of foam, and has been popular among parents with infants for several years. Its popularity is no surprise – as soon as an infant can support his/her own head (usually by 4 months of age), he/she can sit upright, fully supported by the Bumbo and play with arms free while mom and dad finally get some stuff done.   It seems harmless enough, but in addition to its voluntary recall of 1 million Bumbo seats in 2007 to address the dangers of using the seat on raised surfaces, and its recall in 2012 to add a seatbelt after numerous babies fell out and suffered skull fractures, pediatric physical therapists believe it interferes with normal motor skill development.

Rebecca Talmud is a Pediatric Physical Therapist who published a blog about the Bumbo Seat as a guest on Mama OT. She describes the following as standard motor milestones in developing infants:

  • Between 6-9 months we expect typically developing children to begin to sit upright on the floor for short periods of time, first using support from hands and later independently.
  • Between 9-12 months, we expect children will begin to gain more control in seated position. When seated on the floor, they will begin to turn their trunk to reach and manipulate toys placed around them.

Rebecca states, “When children are placed in the Bumbo before they are developmentally ready for sitting it can interfere with the natural progression of skills.”

How exactly does it interfere? Rebecca explains that the seat claims to hold the child in a specific position that allows for the ‘active practice of the head and postural control,’ when in reality, there is no active control being achieved. The child is passively placed in position and then locked in.” There is a lack of muscle activation and joint mobility while in the Bumbo, and no natural weightbearing occuring, which robs the child of the sensory input needed for development.

Talmud’s post goes on to mention other inconsistencies between what the Bumbo claims to accomplish and what actually happens during use in regards to posture, noted in the Chicago Tribune by Mary Weck, Clinical Coordinator of Physical Therapy at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

Seems a no-brainer to toss your Bumbo Seat so it can join the ranks of other failed and unsafe baby equipment. Instead of a Bumbo, help your baby practice sitting by physically sitting with your baby. If you need to get stuff done, make use of a Moby wrap or Ergo.

Check back later for the lowdown on the ExerSaucer!