‘Grave Concerns’ About Popular Bumbo Baby Seat

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bumbo-baby-seatNeeding a moment to prepare a snack, nanny Teri Deel set her 3-month-old charge in a Bumbo Baby Seat on the kitchen floor nearby.

Suddenly the 20-pound boy arched his back, lurched out of the round plastic seat and struck his head on a rattle. The fall fractured his skull and led to bleeding around the brain, according to a lawsuit filed against Bumbo in 2010 by the boy’s parents, Julie and Judd Peak of Tennessee.

New parents and caregivers often swear by the colorful and quirky Bumbo, a popular baby shower gift that allows babies as young as 3 months to sit up before they are able to do so on their own. But even when the handy chair is used as recommended – on the floor and with adult supervision – infants are tumbling out and suffering cracked skulls, broken legs and other serious injuries, according to data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

In October of 2007, the Bumbo was voluntarily recalled in the U.S. after a wave of reported skull fractures in babies between 3 months and 10 months old. While many companies change the design of a recalled product or send consumers a kit to fix it, Bumbo made no alterations beyond a new label on the front that reads “Prevent falls! Never use on any elevated surface.” The warning was also added to packaging and instruction manuals.

Since the recall, at least 33 infant skull fractures linked to the Bumbo have been reported, according to the CPSC, which issued a warning to parents in November. Citing “grave concerns,” a coalition of children’s health and advocacy groups last month urged the agency to remove the popular seats from the market until the safety issues are resolved.

Bumbo International says the $40 contoured seat, which hugs an infant’s hips, is safe when used properly. Since 2003, Bumbo has sold nearly 4 million of the chairs in the U.S. and 7 million worldwide. “The safety and health of all children who use the Bumbo seat is the company’s foremost priority,” Rene Tolmay, a spokeswoman for the South Africa-based company, said in an email.

Julie and Judd Peak, both attorneys, declined to speak about the specifics of their case, which has been settled. Their son has recovered. They stand by the allegations in the complaint, including that the safety warning doesn’t mention the possibility of escape from the Bumbo and that it implies there is risk only when the product is used off the floor.

Deel, 29, now getting her master’s in school counseling at Roosevelt University in Chicago, still gets choked up when she talks about the accident involving the Peaks’ baby, which occurred when she was working for the family in Tennessee. Now, when she baby-sits and finds a Bumbo in the house, she warns the family and steers clear of it.

“It’s supposed to be designed so you don’t have to worry the child will fall over, especially when they’re smaller,” said Deel, who has remained close to the Peak family. “There’s a false security that goes on – an extra set of hands – which was not my experience with it.”

Bumbo says it believes the additional warnings have reduced the number of falls from elevated surfaces. On Bumbousa.com, it reminds parents that “babies are active and curious, and may wiggle out of the Seat.” It also argues that the Bumbo has a low injury rate when compared with the thousands of children injured by bouncy seats, chairs, car seats and sofas each year.

According to the CPSC, at least 46 infants were reported to have toppled out of the Bumbos placed on elevated surfaces prior to the 2007 recall. Since then, at least 45 more falls from raised or unstable surfaces have been reported. In addition, CPSC says there are 50 reported falls from the Bumbo when it was used on the floor or at an unknown elevation.

The CPSC would not comment on the child health and advocacy coalition’s request for another recall, but spokesman Scott Wolfson said it does “take the letter seriously.”

Records show that babies 10 months and younger have reportedly whacked their heads or bloodied their mouths and noses on ceramic tile floors, granite countertops, toilets, kitchen tables and islands, and toys after falling from Bumbos. A 7-month-old Milwaukee boy broke his right leg after he launched backward out of a Bumbo placed on the floor, according to documents obtained as part of a lawsuit. He underwent two surgeries.

The seats, which can be used only for a few months but last years, also are popular on the secondhand market, where consumers may not see the original instruction manuals or may unknowingly buy pre-recall models that lack the new warning.

{Chicago Tribune/Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Just as the nanny in the article says, it gives parents a “a false security that goes on – an extra set of hands”. That’s a bunch of nonsense. When you watch a baby you have to watch carefully. If you’re not, something could happen whether they are in this seat or that seat. I’m sure there are many more injuries from strollers and swings and bouncy seats. My baby toppled over from her bouncy seat! Should I sue??

  2. They are a danger to kids. They should have been recalled years ago. PLEASE do not use them and encourage everyone you know to not use them either.

  3. #4, your baby does need to be able to touch the floor. My kid was able to get out by arching his back and twisting his hips in the right way. This is an aid to parents who are looking to read to a kid, feed them (on the floor) etc.

    But this isn’t a babysitting tool and you cannot walk away while your kid is in one.

  4. 150 kids being injured out of 7000000 sold, not including the number of times resold, is only 0.002%

    5 words come to mind when reading this story.



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