Adventures in Attachment Parenting: Good Riddance Bumbo by Allison Silver
About ten years ago, I was working with babies and toddlers with special needs as an Early Intervention Specialist, when I was introduced to the Bumbo seat. The parents who had one seemed to love it. They thought it was so cute that their two to three month old baby could sit up independently. My gut reaction was that this thing was bad news!
At two to three months of age, babies are lacking core strength and are still gaining adequate control of their heads. The bottom line is that they are not developmentally ready for sitting at this age. If they were developmentally ready, then they would be sitting independently and would not need a device to help them. When I saw young babies in these seats, they were typically not sitting upright, but were slouched in the seat. Sometimes their heads would be flopped over to the side or hanging forward. I would think to myself, how could this be comfortable? I was also thinking that since babies are top heavy and this thing is just a piece of foam rubber, it could probably topple over pretty easily.
I had several friends that were physical therapists whom I consulted with regularly, and they all agreed with me, saying that the Bumbo was not good for a baby’s posture since it did not properly support a baby’s back, neck, and head. At that time there was nothing but my gut feeling and my knowledge of occupational therapy and child development to deter parents from using this seat. Some parents took my advice and others thought the Bumbo was a helpful device that allowed them to have their hands free.
I read online this week, in USA Today, that about a month ago Bumbo recalled their floor seats because nearly two dozen children had fallen out of them and obtained skull fractures. I couldn’t believe it! This is what I predicted was going to happen ten years ago! I was saddened to hear that nearly two dozen children had to be harmed before this thing was recalled. And even now, it hasn’t been completely removed from the market. Bumbo has issued a safety kit which includes a seat belt that goes around the waist. But that does not address the issue of a very young child being top heavy. There is still no head, neck, or back support. So now, instead of falling out of it, the baby and the whole seat will fall over together. Not much of an improvement!
Let’s take a step back and look at the big picture. The original design of the Bumbo seat was to be used as a seat on the floor so you can interact with your child. At this age, the best way to interact with your child is to hold them. You might think to yourself, “That is all well and good, but what if I need to have my hands free?” This is where my attachment parenting philosophy comes into play and you should consider baby wearing.
I am the first to admit that ten years ago I knew nothing about baby wearing and I advised parents that the best place for their baby was on the floor on a blanket, not in a Bumbo seat. But I know now that the best place for a young baby is close to their parent or primary caregiver. This is so important and helps promote bonding and assists with breastfeeding. The best way to accomplish this is for the parent or caregiver to wear the baby.
Baby wearing definitely deserves its own blog and I am sure that I will write one shortly as I indirectly have become a self proclaimed baby wearing expert. But for the sake of this blog, if you want to interact with your baby, hold them, talk to them, look into their little eyes, and love them. All they want is you and not some fifty-dollar piece of molded foam rubber.