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Pain in the Bumbo: why has the US recalled this baby seat?

News came yesterday that Bumbo is voluntarily recalling more than four million Bumbo baby seats across the US and Canada – but not in the UK. So are these foam seats a public menace?

After reports of babies injuring themselves by falling from the foam rubber seats, the US and Canadian authorities have issued a safety alert.

Recalls are slightly different in the US, where Bumbo owners are being asked to order a free safety kit.

There hasn’t been a recall in the UK, but if you’re concerned about the Bumbo, its UK distributor Tomy is offering free safety kits to all UK owners, including those who didn’t buy their seat through Tomy. Find out how to request the kit in our Bumbo recall news story.

Don’t use Bumbo’s on raised surfaces

My son used a Bumbo before he could sit properly or crawl. It was really useful for a while – I didn’t have to prop him up with cushions or sit him on my knee for playing or giving him a snack. I didn’t think it was a potentially dangerous baby accessory (not like a baby bouncer), so what’s the story in the US?

Well firstly, it’s been reported that there have been 84 Bumbo-related injuries reported in the US over the last five years. And 50 of them were due to the Bumbo being placed on a high surface.

Now, I thought it was pretty clear that the Bumbo couldn’t be used to put your baby up on high surfaces – the advice that comes with the Bumbo does make it pretty clear – it’s not stuck down, a baby could rock out of it and hurt themselves.

In the UK, around 11,000 children a year are injured through falling off of beds, so is it any wonder the small number of injuries caused by a Bumbo not being used sensibly has been ignored by the UK authorities?

False sense of security

The thing with the Bumbo is that it does give you a false sense of security. If your baby has been happily sitting in it without incident it could be pretty tempting to pop it up on the table, just for a minute, while you do something else and then that’s when the accident happens. It makes you feel your child is safe when perhaps he or she is not.

But is it really more dangerous than any other piece of baby equipment? Or is it being judged harshly because it’s a rather expensive (£30), inessential piece of baby equipment? In fact, when we asked parents to rate the usefulness of baby equipment, the Bumbo baby seat sat in the top ten least useful.

Have you used a Bumbo with your baby? Was it useful or a waste of space? Should they be recalled in the UK, or is common sense enough?


We borrowed a Bumbo from friends to try with our first son. Didn’t come with the greatest of reviews from them; their son didn’t take to it at all, but they’d kept it since it was a gift. Same result with our son; as soon as you put him in it he’d struggle to get out again. Very glad we didn’t purchase; we accumulated way too much ‘used-it-once’ baby paraphenalia.

It’s worrying to hear that so many injuries have been caused while using this seat, particularly as many are seemingly due to misuse. A lot of the warnings that go with a Bumbo seat are common sense, such as don’t use it on a high surface. But clearly some people aren’t taking note of these simple instructions.

It’s easy to ignore obvious signs as it feels like they are included just to cover the companies back if something goes wrong – the overuse of them dilutes the signs that clearly need to be abided by. So I suppose at the end of the day it’s down to your own common sense and a judgement call, and when a baby is involved, always err on the side of caution.

Konishiko says:
21 August 2012

I bought a second-hand Bumbo when my son was 6 months old because he was still not sitting up very well on his own, but I wasn’t sure if I want to spend the full price on it. I wish I had gotten it sooner, it turned out to work very well for us, because he likes it and only recently (at 8 months) started to try to wriggle out if left in it for more than 10 minutes. It comes with very sensible warnings and I never put it anywhere else than on the floor and with a pillow behind if I have to leave the room. It’s brilliant for what it says on the tin – propping a baby who can’t sit on his own for short periods of time, for play, a quick snack or for a wash after a messy meal. It’s not an alternative for the safety of a highchair or baby bouncer though! I think you just have to be sensible…

Daddycool says:
21 August 2012

As in all things in life, you can’t legislate for idiots!

There is nothing wrong with the Bumbo design IMHO, these ‘accidents’ are the result of Parents with little or no common sense.

Helena says:
24 August 2012

We have a bumbo and used it from 4months to around 8months. My son has always been able to get out of it. When the tray is fitted, it would take him a bit longer to get out, but he would still get out. I think it’s just common sense that at some stage the baby will try to get out, so you need to make sure you put it in a place where that isn’t going to be a problem or you need to be near enough to catch them! I did see a number of friends leave their babies in bumbos on high surfaces though; they would say “oh, it’s fine, my baby has never tried to get out of the bumbo before” and then they would pop to the kitchen/loo etc. I imagine that the problems in the USA have been caused by parents with this stupid attitude.

It is fair enough to have a recall on a high chair that is unstable or a toy that breaks easily, producing sharp pieces. This is a high unsophisticated seat and parents have to assume some responsibility.

However, I suggest that production is banned until the manufacturers have done something about the stupid name and ghastly colour.

Vinceyoung says:
19 December 2013

Me and my husband love bumbo, it was introduced by a friend, now my second child is using it, and its work wonder with us, love the product, we dont put it on high surface always on the floor only, its 5 years now still doing great

I bought a bumbo seat, but couldn’t use for long as my little boys little chunky legs. When he started to wriggle it tipped forward. Common sense surely tho to place on a flat surface and somewhere soft? He didn’t like it, ended up giving it away. The basic baby bouncer was the most useful piece of equipment before sitting up on his own, then playpen when washing pots etc