Bumbo Baby Seats recall is a bummer: Mom mourns loss of cool idea

Bumbo Baby Seats recall is a bummer for this mom: What a cool idea it was – as are a lot of other items recalled in just the past month, from strollers to baby monitors.

Bumbo Baby Seats recall: The Consumer Product Safety Commission said babies can wiggle out of the floor seats. Four million of the seats were sold in the US – and probably made most moms and babies who used it happy, suggests one mom who thought it was a cool idea.

I can’t be the only one to have read the news of the massive Bumbo Baby Seat recall with just a twinge of sadness.

This isn’t because I don’t believe in stringent safety standards for baby products – quite the contrary. Surely it’s no good to have consumer goods out there that injure kids, and thank goodness some part of government is standing up for our little ones. As Monitor business editor Laurent Belsie reported yesterday, the South African company Bumbo International and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) had received around 100 complaints of injuries related to the baby seat, including more than 20 skull fractures. 

Even if that’s a tiny percentage of Bumbo users, it’s a clear sign that there’s a problem. 

But the Bumbo – that weirdly shaped and brightly colored foam contraption that allows a young baby to sit like a big kid – was pretty darn cool. We didn’t have one ourselves, mostly because we were clueless and didn’t know for months they existed, but after being introduced at a friend’s house we were enamored. And Baby M loved it.

So, apparently, did many, many other babies. Bumbo International has sold 4 million seats in the US alone, all of which they are targeting in this safety action.

And, well, it’s just kind of a bummer that it is unsafe, although the company says consumers can install a new harness system that will help fix the problem. 

(As an aside here – it’s hard not to wonder what people in South Africa, home of the Bumbo, think about this. The common attitude when I was living there was that the US was a strangely rule-loving place and that Americans needed to relax. It wasn’t unusual to see kids of all demographics riding joyfully in the back of pickup trucks, or dashing down impossibly steep playground slides that perched over cement. But I digress...)

The recent Bumbo news, of course, is just the latest in what seems like a never-ending report of danger lurking where you least expect it.

Some of the recent recalls:

  • On July 24 CPSC and Peg Perego USA Inc. announced a voluntary recall of two versions of their strollers, the Venezia and the Piko-P3, due to risk of entrapment and strangulation.
  • That same day the safety commission announced a recall of Kolcraft Enterprises Inc.’s Contour tandem strollers, for fall and choking hazards.  Apparently the wheels and basket support screws can easily detach in some models.
  • Folding beach chairs made by Downeast Concepts Inc. are a laceration hazard, according to the CPSC, as are Toysmith’s Animal Snap Bracelets.
  • A group of safety advocates have launched a campaign to raise awareness of the strangulation risk connected to baby monitors.

And that’s just a sample of what happened in July.

It’s great we have these alerts. The regulatory structure and attention of official organizations such as the CSPC, as well as a slew of nonprofit safety groups, save lives. But as a parent, you kinda wish that you could just buy a stroller, say, and not worry that in a few months you’ll hear that you’ve been putting your little bundle of joy in grave danger.

At least we have Buckyballs, those small magnetic spheres that are a clear hazard to small children who might eat them, and which are now at the center of a new safety lawsuit brought by the CPSC.

Those, at least, parents should know are dangerous.

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