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Description of the Bumbo Seat
The Bumbo baby seat is marketed as a great way for a pre-sitting baby to experience sitting upright semi-independently. Made from a lightweight foam-like material, the Bumbo seat is shaped to support the weight of a baby whose muscles are not yet strong enough for sitting. Their website calls it “the extra set of hands you have always been looking for," which most mothers will grab with both of their aching arms.
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My Introduction to the Bumbo
When I first received the Bumbo seat as a baby gift, we looked at the amorphous foam mass and asked “What on earth did they get us?" Luckily, my mother happened to be nearby to praise the Bumbo seat. Apparently my niece had loved the Bumbo seat when she was younger, and my sister-in-law couldn’t praise it enough. Although my baby still had his umbilical cord attached and I could never have imagined him smiling – let alone sitting – we stored it away under his crib. I must admit, we didn’t have great expectations for it.
Lo and behold, several months later my little wobble-head started holding his head up consistently. Out came the Bumbo seat, and in went my little guy. At first, he looked confused, then burst into tears. My husband looked like he wanted to burn this device that had saddened his little boy, but I still held out hope. A few days later (when my husband was out), I let my son try it again. Eureka! He loved it. I could play games with him or let him explore toys in a more comfortable position. Even his daddy gave in and encouraged him to sit in it. The little guy seemed to love his new perspective on the world.
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An Original Use
As time went on, we found an excellent new use for the Bumbo seat – in conjunction with a playmate. Although my son had always loved looking at his toys that hung above the playmate, he was intrigued at this new position. Suddenly he could actually reach the toys, begin to swat at them, and even try to eat them! Life was good – all because of the Bumbo seat. Now the Bumbo also makes a removable play tray to keep baby interacting with toys well within reach.
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The Bumbo Recall – What Really Happened?
Only after the Bumbo was long stored away under the crib again did I come across information about the Bumbo recall. What is fascinating about the recall was that it wasn’t actually a recall in the strictest sense of the word. Instead of offering a refund to people who had purchased the Bumbo seat, the manufacturers offered advice instead. Here’s how it happened.
Apparently there were multiples cases of children falling out of Bumbo seats and being injured – some seriously. When this was brought to the attention of the manufacturers, they researched the matter and discovered that the parents involved had almost always placed the Bumbo seats on a raised surface, such as a table or chair. It wasn’t falling out of the Bumbo seat that injured the babies, per se – it was the falling off of the raised surface. Therefore, instead of recalling the Bumbo seats from the market completely, they offered safety stickers that could be displayed prominently on the seat, warning parents to keep the Bumbo on the floor.
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So is a Bumbo seat worthwhile? Sure, as long as you use it as directed by the manufacturer. It's a great way to help your baby learn to sit, but do not use it as a substitute high chair. Do not put it on the table so your baby can watch you making dinner. Keep it safely on the floor, and make sure to monitor your child in it at all times. The Bumbo seat may be an extra set of hands, but is not a babysitter.