Bumbo Baby Seat Recalled Because It Is Only 99.999475% Safe

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Hi Folks! Lenore Skenazy from Free-Range Kids, alerting parents to a horrible danger that could be lurking in your living room: The Bumbo Seat!

As I explain on my site: 

Bumbos are little seats that look even safer than normal seats because there’s a big, hmmm, I guess “bumbo” in front of the crotch, wedging the child in. (See below.) About 4 million — that’s 4,000,000 — have been sold. A few years ago, they were recalled because if you placed them on a table, sometimes they’d fall off. So a warning was added. Now they are being recalled for retooling — basically adding a safety belt — after reports of 2 baby skull fractures. (Two, that is, while the seat was on the ground.)

Now, look, nobody wants a baby’s skull fractured. (Do they?) But listen to this quote in USA Today:

“Too many children were injured while using this product,” says Consumer Federation of America product safety director Rachel Weintraub. “The fact that the manufacturer is changing the product by including restraints is incredibly significant.”

It is INDEED significant, in that it indicates that any manufacturer can be coerced into a product recall if someone insinuates that without it, the manufacturer DOESN’T CARE ABOUT BROKEN BABY SKULLS. The specter of a lawsuit, or boycott, or just a glaring TV talk show host is enough to make any company quake in its booties.

But when something is safe 99.999475% of the time, is that not SAFE ENOUGH? Apparently not to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Read (a little more) here. – L

 photo

Ye gads! Won’t someone save that poor endangered baby?

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50 Responses to “Bumbo Baby Seat Recalled Because It Is Only 99.999475% Safe”

  1. #1 |  Jet | 

    Is it just me, or does that baby have an abnormally large head?

  2. #2 |  Boxy | 

    All babies have abnormally large heads.

  3. #3 |  William Anderson | 

    This definitely falls into the “I could scream” category. I will GUARANTEE that most, if not all, government products don’t have that kind of a safety record.

  4. #4 |  Debbie | 

    I’m sure many more babies have been injured falling off couches. Will they soon come with safety belts? (Oops, I’d better not give them any ideas!)

  5. #5 |  Jet | 

    @Boxy: I meant abnormally large as compared to the “normal” abnormally large. Like, maybe, “OMG, this baby’s picture is going to be out there. Perhaps we should Photoshop another head on so predators don’t get their weird ideas about this baby” kind of abnormally large.

    Or maybe it’s just me.

  6. #6 |  Nicole | 

    My 8 month old son flipped out of a Bumbo seat and onto the kitchen floor last winter. He was sitting in it on the counter while I was mixing some cookie dough right next to him. He arched his back and out he went. Thankfully he wasn’t hurt except for a bruise on his forehead, but if we had a ceramic tile floor I’m sure the outcome would have been different. I never used the Bumbo again after that.

    In hindsight I shouldn’t have had him on the counter, but I thought the unique design made this seat as safe as a booster with a seatbelt. I’m a free range mom, but I have to say that adding a safety belt to the Bumbo is a GREAT idea!

  7. #7 |  PeeDub | 

    @Jet – It totally looks photoshopped. The pixels gave it away.

  8. #8 |  Cheryl | 

    No, Jet, you’re right. It’s so large it looks photoshopped.

  9. #9 |  Bronwyn | 

    I have much cuter photos of my babies using their (non-bumbo-brand) bumbo seat.

    MUCH cuter.

    Just saying

    (html… does it work?)

  10. #10 |  Nicole | 

    I should also add that 2 of my close friends had their baby girls fall out of Bumbo seats in the same way (by arching their backs). Both babies were seated on the carpeted floor, so no injuries, but still…just a terrible design for a baby product.

  11. #11 |  erica | 

    IDK but that baby might not be the best choice for this article. He appears to be a bit more top heavy than most babies.

  12. #12 |  Erik | 

    Looks just like Spence…from ‘King of Queens’.

  13. #13 |  Warren | 

    The product is not unsafe or defective………the numbers back that up. It is the parents that use them, without knowing their child that are unsafe and defective.

    We got gifts all the time from loving well meaning family and friends, and there were some that we thanked them for, but never used. As fantastic as they were supposed to be, they just weren’t for my child.

    All children are different, therefore not all products are suited for them. This seat would have worked for other’s kids, but my two girls, they were way to active and fidgety. They hated to be restrained by strollers, seats or people and fought tooth and nail against any restraint.

    Again a company is being held responsible for the stupidity of others.

  14. #14 |  Louise | 

    WHAT can we do as individuals to stop this kind of insanity?

  15. #15 |  Athena | 

    I would just like to start out by saying… I LOVE YOU, LENORE! I am constantly referring people to your site from the one I’m employed by, which, due to its content (true crime), is largely comprised of hyper-judgmental, over-protective people (female or male, parents or not, we draw that crowd for obvious reasons). We’ve even begun to avoid covering certain news that involves children, as we hate contributing to the largely media-driven fear that is negatively impacting how children in this country are being raised. After all, it’s asking far to much to expect people to put these cases in perspective.

    That aside, I am the Bumbo-loving mother of a two-year-old who has long outgrown her Bumbo (and lived to tell the story!). When I heard about the recall, I mentioned it to my co-worker, who has a Bumbo-loving 6-month-old of his own, so we could discuss how ridiculous it is. Our suspicions were all but confirmed when I read that these children suffered injury after falling from the floor “or unspecified height”. I have a very hard time believing that any child could be injured, even if they wiggle out of the thing, if the item is used in a manner consistent with its warning label (that instructs parents to never place it on a raised surface).

    It kills me when these companies are bullied into an unnecessary recall that will affect their bottom line. It’s even more ridiculous when you consider that the “fix” could prove to be more dangerous than the original problem (the company is now warning parents to store the augmented seats out of the reach of children, as the newly added straps could entangle children and cause strangulation). Dare I ask… Has there been a more ridiculous recall of children’s equipment, or have we just established a new low?

  16. #16 |  Bob | 

    Good god! What is that, MODOK as a baby? Clearly, it’s a too-large baby head photoshopped onto another baby. Why? To avoid a lawsuit?

    So much wrong here, and on so many levels.

    Time for me to market my “Child Safe” brand of restraint cages! Nothing says sake like being locked into a padded cage!

  17. #17 |  Warren | 

    Let’s face it………..we are pooched. No matter what we do or don’t do we are endangering our children. I am sure that if you were to measure the air quality around us, and I don’t care where you live, I highly doubt it would be 99.999475% of what is ideal for humans.

    I am sure there is 0.000525% pollutants, no matter where you live. So lets just concede our defeat now.

  18. #18 |  James Solbakken | 

    It is really really really dumb to fall for the “explanation” that this idiocy is all about “paranoia” and “fear for the children.”
    It’s all about power, and unaccountable authority, and communism, and fascism, and mind-screwing the people into a frenzy of stupid so that they can’t even imagine taking care of themselves anymore. If you can’t raise your babies right, what else is there? Unless and until we can say to these psychotic megalomaniacs that we don’t need them for anything we will be at their mercy, which is scary because they ain’t got no mercy.

  19. #19 |  Jeff | 

    there would be less of a skull-fracturing roll-over risk with these seats if people stopped putting kids in them with clearly over-sized heads that make them dangerously top-heavy… ;j

  20. #20 |  Angie | 

    Looking at that chair I have to say I’m just thankful my boys are now 21 and 16 years old. That thing looks horrible. Why would you want to restrict your child by putting him in such a thing?

  21. #21 |  DoubleU | 

    Off Topic: New York state says poker is not gambling.
    http://goo.gl/TH6tR

    #1 Jet: Is it just me, or does that baby have an abnormally large head?

    It is a guy thing, most guys seem to like a little head.

  22. #22 |  Athena | 

    Angie – The people I know (including myself) primarily used it for children who couldn’t sit up on their own, yet. My kid loved it. She was able to interact much more with her slightly older cousins, as they were more apt to try to engage her when she was sitting up rather than laying somewhere. It also made feeding her “solids” a breeze when we were out and about, as the Bumbo is much more convenient than a high chair to cart around. It was never about restriction. Quite the opposite, really.

  23. #23 |  Kerade | 

    #14 – Angie
    My oldest daughter didn’t use one, but my youngest who was born with an extra 21st chromosome (commonly known as Trisomy 21 or Down Syndrome) used one. The purpose was to provide her with support in her lower back as she learned to sit and do things that humans with one less chromosome learn to do much easier. It was a useful tool during her early development. At least we were smart enough not to put her up on a table or raised surface!

  24. #24 |  Jay | 

    Semi-related: How is a 100% safety record getting in trouble as well?

    http://blogs.westword.com/latestword/2012/08/federal_agency_targets_denver.php#more

    Federal agency targets Denver magnet company with no history of injury

  25. #25 |  Bob | 

    #18: Jay

    Semi-related: How is a 100% safety record getting in trouble as well?

    http://blogs.westword.com/latestword/2012/08/federal_agency_targets_denver.php#more

    Federal agency targets Denver magnet company with no history of injury

    But, you might get hungry and mistake them for grape-nuts!

    I’m surprised gas pumps don’t have warning labels on them saying “Gasoline! DO NOT DRINK!” For that matter, how long will it be before the station has to give you plastic gloves and a disposable respirator before you can pump your own gas? And of course, having a minor in the car while you pump said gas will be a felony. In the future, enough people will drive electric cars to make this a reality.

    As POGO says: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

  26. #26 |  JLS | 

    What’s really frightening is that the goal of our society is now 100% elimination of risk from life.

    What could possibly go wrong?

  27. #27 |  Suzanne | 

    Bob is totally right about the cages, it’s the only way to keep them 100% safe all the time – unless of course your house catches on fire or there’s a tornado/huricane/flood. Wait, that’s right, there is no 100% safe but still that cage is so much closer than us letting our precious bundles run around town, right? We will not be needing self-sufficient adults in 20 years. This Bumbo recall is another in a long line of ridiculousness. Why can’t people accept responsibility for their own actions?

    I’m pretty sure if your child is small enough to be propped in that seat they shouldn’t be too far away from an adult (or someone big enough to catch them if they topple) and if they are big enough to sit on their own then they don’t need that seat. Anyone should be able to look at that seat and see if a baby leans just right they will pop out of it. If they put a belt on it won’t the whole thing tip over if they lean just right?

  28. #28 |  crzyb0b | 

    “CPSC and Bumbo International of South Africa have learned of at least 50 incidents in which babies fell from Bumbo seats while they were being used on raised surfaces. CPSC says another 34 babies fell from the seats while they were being used on the floor or at an unknown elevation. In all, there were 21 reports of skull fractures to infants.”

    Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/08/21/2960759/popular-bumbo-infant-floor-seat.html#storylink=cpy

    I’m curious why lenore would deliberately underestimate the hazard by at least an order of magnitude (2 vs. 21) to make her political point. Hint: if you have to adjust the “facts” to fit your philosophy, perhaps its your philosophy that needs to be adjusted.

    Note also that 21 is the number of skull fractures actually reported to the company, in all likelihood this is only a fraction of the total injuries.

  29. #29 |  Zargon | 

    #22

    I’m curious why lenore would deliberately underestimate the hazard by at least an order of magnitude (2 vs. 21)

    F.

    Please reread the passage and try again for partial credit.

  30. #30 |  Jim Wetzel | 

    @ Bronwyn (#7): The HTML works fine, and I have to agree … yours is vastly cuter. Thanks for sharing!

  31. #31 |  Warren | 

    #23
    Thank you. It seems that some people wish to see just what they want, and not what is laid out plainly in front of them.

  32. #32 |  Maria | 

    @20 Read John Sladeks wonderful short story called ‘The Happy Breed’.
    The “let’s bubble wrap the planet” weirdness always makes me think of it.

    When some people hit their head on the corner of a cupboard door they get pissed at themselves. Others get pissed at the cupboard door. Still others sulk off to the government demanding that something be done to fix those dangerous corners. For the good of all.

    @22 I agree that Lenore shouldn’t exaggerate the already ridiculous. But there’s something really odd about the way they measure risk.

    I’m really really not on Team Baby Skull Fracture but even 21 comes out to 1 fractured skull for approx 190,476 chairs. That theoretically leaves ~190k babies that managed to survive the repeated event of sitting in a Bumbo for each one that banged their head. The word repeated is key here because I don’t think it’s the amount of babies or seats that we should really be comparing. It’s how often the seats are used. Once a week? Eight times a day?

    Ok say once a day with one baby per seat. No siblings, no sharing, no loaning. Just a simple 4 million seats so 4 million babies. But let’s be conservative and say that 1 million of those 4 million seats are out of commission due to age, disuse, or simply to take into account that not all the seats could be used at once. Let’s say only 3 million are in use at any given day. That’s about 1,095,000,000 sittings per year.

    That’s now a reported rate of 21 sittings that resulted in a skull fracture for 1,094,999,979 sittings that ended with no skull fracture. Except it’s not, note that the rate of incident is “since the initial recall” which was in 2007. That’s 21 fractured skulls since 2007. Or 50 falls. Or 10 falls a year? Any ratios beyond this point is a little beyond me since we’d have to take into account such things as exponential increases and decreases in chair ownership and other factors to determine how many chairs were used in the 5 year span.

    Even if 21 is a “fraction” of reported skull fractures it’s up against a rather large sum of non incidents. Also if it is a fraction then how many skull fractures are out there? 100? 1,000? 10,000? Because if that many skull fractures or sever injuries where occurring I suspect there would be news and it could easily be associated with the product. But if 21 is a fraction of babies simply falling out and getting a bump or a startle, we need to wonder why is this item now considered dangerous? Babies fall over all the time.

  33. #33 |  Bronwyn | 

    Thanks, Jim!

    My first son enjoyed the chair, too, although he did chastise me for setting him in it on our kitchen counter.

    Baby say wha’?

    Yes, they eventually tumble out of it. No you should never leave them up on a table/countertop/stepladder/washing machine without direct and immediate supervision.

    It’s a great little seat for a snack, brief containment, or some face-to-face fun.

    There is NO reason for a child to be injured in this chair, unless by freak accident (the little buggers can move fast and not every parent is equipped with lightning reflexes) or outright brain-fart parental idiocy.

    A belt is just one more thing to get chewed on and gummed up. The seats are smooth and super-easy to sanitize. The belts will ruin that.

  34. #34 |  Pete | 

    I concur that the Bumbo is as safe as any baby product can reasonably be expected to be, and the gov’t coerced recall is rediculous. However, the Bumbo actually is a terrible product, though for a reason having nothing to do with safety. As you can see in the photo, the baby is wedged very snugly into the Bumbo and foam padding surrounds him on all sides up to the height of his chest. I had the misfortune to learn (with my youngest child) that this design has an unintended side effect of funneling poo straight upwards — right out of the top of the diaper. There should be a special level of Hell reserved for the inventor of this product.

  35. #35 |  Bronwyn | 

    YES, Pete!

    Thus, my comment in re sanitizing :-/

  36. #36 |  r.l.s.3 | 

    Sorry this is off topic, but Bob@#19 reminded me of the time my brother was driving thru Oregon, and stopped to get gas. He got out of his car and walked toward the pump.

    “Whoa, whoa whoa!!! What do you think you’re doing?” screamed the attendant. “Um…getting gas.” My brother replied.

    “Well, I see you’re not from around here. The state of Oregon has determined that pumping gas is too dangerous for untrained persons. I must pump your gas for you.”

    “Um…OK.”

    The attendant inserted the nozzle, started the flow and promply went back inside. When the nozzle clicked off, the attendant came back out, topped off the tank, and accepted payment.

    I learned two things from this:

    First, that the signs I see at the pump which say “Do not leave pump unattended” and “Do not top off” are full of shit, as the “trained professional” so obviously exemplified.

    Second, that the states of Arkansas, West Virginia and Mississippi are unfairly stereotyped as having the most inept residents. They trust their citizens to get their own gas.

  37. #37 |  Nancy Lebovitz | 

    Off-topic: http://gawker.com/5936552/the-courts-are-seriously-debating-whether-innocent-prisoners-should-be-kept-in-jail-on-technicalities

    Actual innocence may not be enough for a prisoner to get out of jail.

  38. #38 |  Bob | 

    r.l.s.3:

    Oh wait! Just go to New Jersey. It’s illegal for you witless proles to pump gas there, too! Oh no! Only mob connected union employees can pump gas in New Jersey.

    But I’m pretty sure it has less to do with ‘safety’ than it is to protect mob connected union jobs.

    This is one of the reasons I live in the middle of nowhere, Missouri. Hell, I don’t even have to deal with building codes if I don’t want to. It’s awesome!

  39. #39 |  Cyto | 

    -Nancy – At least they are debating it. Until now the default position has been that if proper protocol and procedures are followed, the only route to freedom on a post-conviction claim of “I didn’t do it” is executive branch clemency. You know, to protect the process.

    I had a casual conversation with a state supreme court justice at the time of one of the preschool witch-hunt fiascoes. I asked him why they didn’t step in and do something when it was so obvious that people were being railroaded into life prison sentences. He said there was no issue before his court and no mechanism for the court to reach down and grab a case from a lower court before it moved through the process. He seemed OK with the idea that the process meant that innocent people had their lives destroyed – it being more important that the integrity of the system was protected. We didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye on the definition of integrity.

  40. #40 |  Uzza | 

    BEDS! OMG, BEDS! Our baby had a skull fracture too: He fell off the bed, Please sign our petition to have the government outlaw beds. Do it now! Think of the children!

  41. #41 |  PermaLurker | 

    @22
    Maybe because Lenore was basing her comment on what the CPSC actually said in their release, rather than a newspaper’s second hand interpretation of CPSC’s realease.

    “Incidents/Injuries: CPSC and Bumbo International know of at least 50 incidents after the October 2007 voluntary recall in which babies fell from a Bumbo seat while it was being used on a raised surface. Nineteen of those incidents included reports of skull fractures. CPSC and Bumbo International are aware of an additional 34 post-recall reports of infants who fell out or maneuvered out of a Bumbo seat used on the floor or at an unknown elevation, resulting in injury. Two of these incidents involved reports of skull fractures, while others reported bumps, bruises and other minor injuries.”

  42. #42 |  A Few Random Morning Links … | The Pretense of Knowledge | 

    [...] Baby Bumbo Recalled Because It Is Only 99.999475% Safe [...]

  43. #43 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    To be fair, the baby in that picture has a huge, massive head. There isn’t much that’s going to stop that sucker from tumbling over. Maybe you could duct tape a couple silver back gorillas on either side, but that introduces a lot of other design problems regarding cost and sourcing of gorillas. Oh, and I guess safety.

  44. #44 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Related, the NFL is currently having some “issues” with concussions. The suits might quickly lead to significant changes in the game where courts create an environment such that it becomes impossible to play due to liability. The first domino might be that helmet makers (such as Riddell) determine they cannot make product without being sued out of business.

    Tying it back to baby stuff…why would anyone even try to make a product for babies? It must be nearly impossible to account for potential liability without having a safe full of goat-and-judge pictures.

  45. #45 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    It’s illegal for you witless proles to pump gas there, too! Oh no! Only mob connected union employees can pump gas in New Jersey.

    This comes up a fair amount on this blog. Not sure it has anything to do with the mob (which doesn’t exist…ahem). I wouldn’t be surprised if some politicians believe they are “creating jobs” by having this requirement.

    In New Hampshire, we can pump our own gas. In 10 years I’ve only seen 20-30 raging fires at the pump with charred human remains from people not being trained to safely pump gas.

    I’m kidding. It would be fucking retarded for there to be any reason you can’t pump your own gas. But, I’m sure Homeland Security could somehow link it to national security.

  46. #46 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Hint: if you have to adjust the “facts” to fit your philosophy, perhaps its your philosophy that needs to be adjusted.

    Note also that 21 is the number of skull fractures actually reported to the company, in all likelihood this is only a fraction of the total injuries.

    “in all likelihood this is only a fraction of the total injuries.”

    D’OH! Irony, thy name is crazybob.

  47. #47 |  Mike T | 

    #15

    Our suspicions were all but confirmed when I read that these children suffered injury after falling from the floor “or unspecified height”. I have a very hard time believing that any child could be injured, even if they wiggle out of the thing, if the item is used in a manner consistent with its warning label (that instructs parents to never place it on a raised surface).

    I feel for the parents who had to deal with the aftermath of that decision, but those who are so incapable of introspection and personal responsibility that they feel justified in suing deserve public scorn. We bought a bumbo for our son who is about to be born a few weeks. I cannot even imagine my wife putting a seat with no restraints on our counters which overlook hardwood flooring.

  48. #48 |  Warren | 

    No matter what the stats, and by the way Lenore’s are bang on exact, which you will see if you actually take the time to digest what you read. No matter what the stats, most child injuries are the result of parental/caregiver actions or inactions.

    I would like to know how long the kids were in the seats before they fell over and fractured their skulls. Parents use these seats and other equipment far too often as ways of controlling their kids while they are not paying attention.

  49. #49 |  Kolohe | 

    Yes, that baby has a big head.

  50. #50 |  Rain | 

    Only two babies out of four million got fractured skulls with their parents using the Bumbo correctly. If course we have to take those parents word the baby wasn’t on a raised surface! The rest of the babies who sufferers skull fractures feel from raised surfaces like counter tops, table tops & coffee tables. For those children it seems unlikely they would have made it to adulthood with out a skull fracture, as there parents are clearly idiots!

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