Bumbo Announces Massive Recall Because Parents Can’t Read Directions

My daughter had a Bumbo seat. It’s that molded-foam chair that only fits your child if they don’t have thunder thighs. Mine was pushing it. She gets it from her momma. But she had a bright blue Bumbo seat that would sit on our kitchen floor while I did dishes or cleaned or prepared a meal. Her Bumbo had a tray table, where she would eat puffs or play with Tag books. She spent a whole lot of time in that seat.

So it is with some regret that I announce Bumbo is recalling over 4 million baby seats after injuries from falls. The South African company that makes Bumbos is recalling seats sold from August 2003 to August 2012 and sold in Babies R Us, Sears, Target, Toys R Us, USA Babies, Walmart and through online retailers. In other words, if you have a Bumbo, it’s being recalled.

Since the products last recall in 2007, there have been at least 50 incidents where children fell out of the chair on a raised surface. 19 of the injuries included skull fractures. Additionally, there have been 34 accidents where children fell over while on the floor or an unknown elevation. Two of those incidents involved skull fractures. During the last recall, the product was brought back to add more warnings instructing parents not to put the seats on raised surfaces or leave children unattended in the seats.

In some ways, I’m obviously glad that the company is bringing back dangerous products. Obviously, the multiple warnings they have on the seats aren’t getting the message across. I think we can all agree that one skull fracture is one skull fracture too many.

But there’s another part of me that feels moderately sorry for the company in this situation. I had that Bumbo. I saw those warnings. Having an infant in any seat that doesn’t strap in on a raised surface is dangerous. Parents know that. Having children in baby seats and leaving them unattended is dangerous. We know that too.

The problem, of course, is that every child device on the market has warnings about not being left unattended. My baby swing with the 5-strap harness had warnings about not leaving babies unattended. I’ve actually seen pack-n-plays with warnings about not leaving children unattended. (Apparently we’re supposed to watch our children nap now, to make sure nothing happens while they sleep.) But moms have to get showers, make dinners, refill the wipe containers spread out all over the house, and maybe even do some laundry so that those cuties have adorable outfits for strangers to coo over. Moms need something that they can walk away from for a couple minutes.

If every piece of equipment you have says that it cannot be walked away from, moms start ignoring those warnings. And they obviously do so at their own peril. That’s when accidents happen.

Bumbo, for all it’s ingeniousness, could not make a product that kept kids safe when parents walked away. Eve worse, the mold foam doesn’t allow it to be strapped to a chair like other baby seats. It’s a seat made for kids on the ground when mom is nearby. It’s a place for your child to sit while you fold those onesies. It’s a chair to keep them upright while you shovel peas and carrots into their mouths.

Or at least, it was. That’s what Bumbo was for me. Now, after the second recall in five years, we’ll have to wait and see if the company can bounce back again.

(Photo: Target)

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  • NotThumper

    My husband and I said the same thing when we saw the recall on the news this morning. It isn’t fair to the company. Yes, there are dangerous products out there but this seat really isn’t one of them, provided you have a working brain and can read directions/warnings. Just another example (and sad casualty) of parents blaming someone else for something bad happening to their kid on their watch.

    • lawcat


    • sheda

      I totally agree!

    • Julie

      Completely agree! I have a Bumbo that we only use for feeding times when we’re traveling. I don’t use it anywhere but on the floor because the warnings say that’s what you should do. The thing that I find crazy is that even in some of Bumbo’s own advertisements, there’s a picture of a mom feeding a baby in a Bumbo on a countertop. It’s a bit of a contradiction. Good thing I don’t let ads dictate the way I live my life.

  • http://www.ithinkyoushould.com/ xobolaji

    lindsay, this was well-written. i like that you covered all angles here.

    i loved the bumbo, and we too heeded all the necessary warnings, and thankfully had no accidents. also, bumbos are not good for children who are not able to sit up properly which is usually around the 5-6month mark. i also never put the bumbo on a raised surface unless my girls were supervised by an adult, because yes unfortunatley accidents do happen! i’m not sure how many warnings one needs to use “common sense,” but i do like the fact that product-makers are sensitive to the needs of their consumer base.

  • Meagan S

    I completely agree with you and don’t plan on doing anything different with my seat because of the recall (I bought it at a garage sale anyways, so I don’t know if I could get the additional pieces they are sending out). Unfortunately, parents can’t apply for a license to parent and therefore you have complete idiots with kids.

  • Andrea

    You know what they say: make something idiot proof and they’ll just make a better idiot.
    It’s a miracle any of us survived into adulthood growing up in an era without warnings and safety devices. *eye roll*

  • LiteBrite

    “Having an infant in any seat that doesn’t strap in on a raised surface
    is dangerous. Parents know that. Having children in baby seats and
    leaving them unattended is dangerous. We know that too.”

    Well, parents SHOULD know that. Apparently, there are a whole lot of people who have difficulty with these sorts of concepts.

    We had a Bumbo seat because it seemed like a good idea at the time. Unfortunately, it went to the donation pile because my son turned out to be in the “thunder thighs” category.

  • Lindsay

    I think it’s not enough to not leave the baby unattended, because the way they sit in that seat, if it were to tip over, the fall would completely be onto their head, instead of onto their side (or face) if they were just sitting on a flat surface without the bumbo. You can be right there and just not catch the baby in time if they shove themselves over. You have to make sure the child cannot reach anything that they can use to push themselves over, also.But look at the baby in that seat. She can shove herself backwards with just her feet. It’s simply not a safe seat to have your baby in, unless you’re sitting there ready to catch her when she shoves herself over backwards.

    • elkaybie

      This. We have a bumbo and it was a short lived product for us for this very reason–it became a prop for a stuffed animal. Just like our son tried to launch himself out of a bouncy seat as he started to get stronger, he got agitated being in the bumbo and tried to figure out how to get out. I held on to it so I have requested the free strap.

    • http://www.facebook.com/courtney.wooten Courtney Lynn

      That’s why it’s supposed to be ON THE FLOOR!

    • Lindsay

      They can kick themselves over ON THE FLOOR! And land right on their heads.

    • Lindsay

      Did you not read the article that some of the cracked skulls happened when the Bumbo was ON THE FLOOR!

    • shel

      A baby should not fracture their skull from falling over… if that was the story we recieved in the emergency room, there would be significant suspicion that the story was false. It takes fall from a greater height to generate the force necessary to fracture a skull. They are thick and hard for a reason.
      I’m wondering if those “report” were from people not wanting to admit they didn’t follow the instructions.

  • Jb

    All children’s seat have straps don’t they why this one is different? Especially if it is only intended to be used for small children who are not able to sit up unassisted.. I think it should have been made originally with a strap as it would just make it an even more safe product for moms to enjoy with there kids… Obviosuly you don’t leve Holstein unattended or on high surfaces that is just common sense but on the ground being used as it is intended I see it a a great added safety feature

  • Tails

    Research, people. “These incidents include two
    reports of skull fractures and one report of a concussion that occurred
    when babies fell out of Bumbo seats used on the floor. These injuries
    reportedly occurred when the infants struck their heads on hard
    flooring, or in one case, on a nearby toy.”

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  • Babyboyhasmyheart

    I use a bumbo. On the floor. With me LOOKING at him. Sitting on the floor too. Holding his hand. It is not meant to be a baby sitter. It is not meant to be two feet from the parent. It is meant for all those times he needs to not be flat on his back, wants to sit up, and have the SMALLEST bit of independent moments. Which are not triply independent at all. No product is baby proof. No product is totally safe. Parents leave kids in car seats in the house, which can cause sever injury or death when the child falls asleep and tips head forward they can’t breath… It has caused deaths. So…. Should we do away with those as well? Or just use common sense?