You've probably seen a Bumbo out of the corner of your eye and wondered if it was a toilet seat or a baby chair. Am I right? You might not have even known what the seat was called, even though it looks familiar. The Bumbo Floor Seat is a brightly colored, lightweight, floor seat made of low-density foam for babies. With the Bumbo, babies have added support to be placed in a sitting position. Since it keeps the baby in one place, it also gives parents some hands-free time. For this reason and its low cost, it is a frequent star on baby registries.
What Age Can Babies Use A Bumbo?
While Bumbos are popular, they have experienced their fair share of controversy. Unfortunately, parents have used the Bumbo seat before it has been developmentally appropriate or used it incorrectly. According to Bumbo, the seat is designed to be used by babies who can support their own heads.
According to Baby Center, “Your baby will probably be able to lift her head when she's about a month old, and hold it up when placed in a sitting position at around 4 months. Her neck muscles and head control should be strong and steady by 6 months.”
Those are probably average time lines. With enough tummy time practice, I've seen babies with great head control around 3 months. This is quite an obvious milestone and hard to miss. However, many parents put their babies in the Bumbo seat before they are ready. It is tempting to have your arms free and your baby in one spot, but if your baby’s head is hanging to one side, your baby is not ready.
Furthermore, some doctors believe you should wait until your child is sitting before you place your child in the Bumbo. According to Dr. Renée Felver-Christensen, “When you're trying to get a kid to stand before they're ready or sit in an upright position before they're ready… it can actually do a disservice to your child because your muscles and joints aren't ready to have that type of control.”
To Bumbo or Not to Bumbo…
While parents often feel the Bumbo helps their child reach the sitting developmental milestone, some doctors disagree. A clinical coordinator of physical therapy told the Chicago Tribune, “the position [of the Bumbo floor seat] actually teaches babies incorrect postural alignment, with a rounded back and the head leaning forward.”
Additionally, Bumbo has been plagued by safety recalls over the years due to infant falls and injuries. Even though the Bumbo comes with a safety label telling parents never to place the Bumbo on an elevated surface, it is still done often. And, babies have fallen and been seriously injured as a result. As of 2018, Bumbo has added a three-point safety harness to help keep babies in the seat without falls. However, this does not prevent falls from elevated surfaces.
Here’s How to Use The Bumbo Safely
Many parents still feel comfortable using a Bumbo even after hearing negative thoughts. This is because these parents are choosing to use the Bumbo safely. Follow these tips to make sure your baby is safe in the Bumbo while your arms get a much-needed break:
- Wait until your baby has strong head and neck control
- Do not ever leave your baby unattended in the seat
- Do not ever place the floor seat anywhere but the floor (no elevated surfaces!)
- Clean the seat regularly
- Use the three-point harness each time
Finally, the Bumbo is not designed to be a babysitter. If you use the Bumbo sparingly along with continuing to practice tummy time, you should not have to worry about the seat causing problems.