Safety First! Common Sense, Ever?

August 16,2012
Cara Finnegan( )

The recent recall of the hugely popular Bumbo baby seat is the latest mass recall causing a collective gasp among parents nationwide. These foam-rubber seats are perfect at propping up little baby bottoms, with just enough space for chubby legs to squeeze through, so they can sit up like bigger kids. Unlike many other baby products, they take up little space and can be easily moved throughout the house, so it’s no surprise that they’re a fixture on most baby shower registries. But apparently, they’re not so perfect, as little ones have been hoisting themselves out of the seats, causing (a whole 100 reported!) injuries.

The Bumbo was a lifesaver with my second baby, as we had to keep him upright as much as possible due to reflux. The cute little seat allowed us to keep him off his back long before he could sit up, and he loved the new vantage point.

But with both of my kids, as soon as they got up enough strength, they could push and squirm their way, and ultimately pop themselves out of the seats. Once that was a viable threat, it was bye-bye Bumbo. I thought it somewhat of a product flaw, but just figured our use of the thing ran its course … like with most baby products, nothing lasts long, and before you know it you’re on to the next piece of essential gear.

But apparently not everybody sees it that way, which brings us to yesterday’s recall. Four million seats are being recalled because babies have been injured pushing themselves out of the seats. Now parents can send away for safety straps to harness babies in, if they get to it. More likely, many moms will “mourn the loss” of these things, and blacklist them as death traps, as is the common backlash of recalls.  

But wait, people didn’t know that it was possible for kids to eventually get out of these things? And people actually put kids in these seats on top of tables, counters, etc., and then LEFT THEM THERE ALONE?

Don’t get me wrong, I think these safety belts are great—they’ll surely extend the life of use for these seats for many parents (I SO wish I had one so we could have used the Bumbo longer!). But instead of just including the strap as a product improvement, the product was recalled, causing panic to ripple across the media, giving parents one more ominous danger to worry and obsess about. (And, thereby  eliminating the accountability for parents who used them straight-up incorrectly: There is a warning on the side of the seat stating that it should be kept on the floor at all times.)

To me, using the seat in a safe way is just pure common sense. Are we going to start recalling cribs because some kids can eventually hoist themselves out of them? Or should we just start strapping them in at night?

This uber safety-conscious generation of parents is lucky with all of the safety gear to set our minds at ease (or, arguably, do the exact opposite) —baby gates, baby monitors, cabinet locks -- but it’s still our job to be attentive. Let’s be safe, but let’s use our own common sense in the interest of maintaining some sanity.