August 16 2012
Going Dumbo on Bumbo
The Bumbo seat is one of those contraptions, like Baby Bjorn infant holders and modern strollers, that would make my mother swoon and say "gosh, if only I'd had one of those handy dandy things when you were a baby..." But she didn't and motherhood was a lot harder for her (she also didn't have a clothes dryer or air conditioning for a large part of my infanthood--how I survived to become a toddler is a mystery to me).
But now, because of some 100 injury reports to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) that include reports of skull fractures, the CPSC has issued a voluntary recall on the popular seat and will require the company to now include safety belts on all newly manufactured seats. Parents who own the old, belt-less seats can go thru the super fun process of applying for a kit which will retro-fit a belt on the old models.
I have issues with this voluntary recall, particularly the nature of the reported injuries. Half of them involved children falling from high surfaces—not a surprising result since kids falling from high surfaces usually sustain some sort of injury.
I have some experience with this. I used to place my first-born in a Bumbo seat on the kitchen table while I cooked dinner. Sure, I'd read the warnings but I still did it. I thought since my kitchen is so small, I literally couldn’t get much more than an arm’s length away from him. In other words, I saw no danger despite the multiple warnings Bumbo had provided telling me not to be nit wit and put the chair on an elevated surface. Well, I was wrong! The kid tried to escape—literally launched himself right out of the seat. Luckily I was standing right there and I caught him but the whole episode scared the heck out of me and from then on, the boy sat on the floor looking up at me while I cooked.
I learned my lesson and luckily my boy wasn't injured but bad things happen. People disregard warnings (which Bumbo displays all over the product), they ignore proper instructions; people do things the way they want to do things. And sometimes that results in some bad consequences.
The other thing that bothers me about this recall is the fact that Bumbo's getting a bad rap as a dangerous product. It isn't. Misuse of products is dangerous, not the product itself. Additionally, Bumbo offered my children some real benefits--a fact lost in all this recall hysteria. As a busy mom, I didn't always have time to do the proper amount of "tummy time" where a child is put on their stomachs under parental supervision in order to strengthen their necks. The Bumbo seat offered me a way to put my child in a safe breathing position so that they could still exercise their neck muscles. It also gave my child a way to observe the world from a sitting up perspective which all my children loved.
This voluntary recall is silly. Parents need to use the product the right way and heed the already multiple warnings already on the package.