Infant Safety, Bumbo Chairs, and You

Norton eating apples in his Bumbo chair

Bumbo chairs are popular little items.  My local Facebook buy and sell page always has them up for sale or people looking to buy them.  They’re popular for good reason: little babies who can’t sit up on their own yet but prefer to be upright can be… without mom or dad having to hold them continuously.  I loved my Bumbo. It’s what we used for Norton when we first started feeding him solids in lieu of a high chair. We’d sit on the living room floor and feed him, one parent bravely and carefully feeding him (and keeping the puppies at bay) while the other manned the camera. They’re wonderful little devices… if and only if parents keep infant safety in mind.

You see, it seems that infant safety is the biggest issue with Bumbo seats.  Infant safety isn’t an issue because of the Bumbo seat itself, of course.  The issue arises because of people not actually following the directions.

I shouldn’t be surprised by people not following directions or bothering to read the warnings on the back of the seats.  After all, I worked retail through high school and university.  People’s inability to read signs like “closed” and “out of order” completely and utterly damaged my faith in humanity.  Well, actually, the inability to read the sign and then screaming at the poor high school kid who had the misfortune to glance in their direction damaged my faith in humanity.

You’d think that it would be different when it’s a parent using a product for their child, but unfortunately, it’s not.

Twice now, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission has recalled Bumbo chairs.  Why?  Because they had to put a warning or add a warning to the back of the chair.  The current warning reads, “WARNING” – “Never use on a raised surface. Never use as a car seat or bath seat. Designed for floor level use only. Never leave your baby unattended as the seat is not designed to be totally restrictive and may not prevent release of your baby in the event of vigorous movement.”

But when I was hanging out on mommy forums, I’d read threads where people were suggesting to each other to use the Bumbo seat as a bath seat.  Or talking about putting the kid in the Bumbo on the kitchen counter while cooking so baby could “see what I’m doing.”  And of course, when someone (okay, usually me) would point out the warning on the back, instead of being thanked for making another mom aware of the potential dangers that she’d missed out on for failing to read, the messenger would be told that she’s “unsupportive.”  Ugh.

It’s no wonder that the recall that went out last year to change the warning happened.  Due to somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty-eight skull fractures from improper use, the message was changed again.  This time, it’s a nice, simple “WARNING – Prevent Falls; Never use on any elevated surface.”

Bumbo chairs aren’t the only object that parents use unsafely.  There’s also parents who put Playtex bottles in the microwave (in spite of the writing on the side of the drop ins saying “don’t do that”).  Children are left unattended in bath seats.  The list goes on, of course, but the majority of incidents with these types of things could be resolved with something as simple as reading (and following) the instructions.

And now for some cuteness: Norton eating bananas.

About Suzi

Suzi is an American ex-pat living in British Columbia. She's a cloth diaper addict, wife, mom of three, and President of the Prince George chapter of Cloth for a Cause.

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