A few months ago I talked about feet and told you that barefoot is best. This month I'll answer another common question that parents ask: should I be using that Bumbo seat thingy that we got at our baby shower? When can I use it? For those of you who don't know, the Bumbo baby seat is a foam seat designed for use between 3 and 10 months of age. According to the Bumbo website (www.bumbousa.com), their products "solve every day parenting challenges, while encouraging parent and child interaction and quality family time". Wow! Sign me up! The Bumbo is not a piece of therapeutic equipment. It costs roughly $40 and can be found pretty much anywhere. In my opinion, the Bumbo can be a great tool when used with the right child at the right time. Yes, it does promote a rounded pelvis and a flexed trunk position but babies who are new at sitting have that same posture.
Babies start by forward prop sitting at between 4 and 5 months of age. As they gain better abdominal and back control, their posture improves and they are able to sit with a neutral pelvis and upright trunk. Most infants sit independently around 6 months of age. Between 7 and 8 months, babies can rotate their trunks, transition between positions and even army crawl or creep on hands and knees. Once a baby can sit independently, the Bumbo is no longer useful. If you do the math, the Bumbo is useful for roughly one, maybe two months. Personally, I think 3 months is a little young. Most babies don't have good enough head control to comfortably enjoy the Bumbo (see picture below). So, in typically developing babies who have good head control, the Bumbo can be useful for social interaction and fine motor play between 4 and 5 months of age. In babies with special needs or developmental delays, the Bumbo can be used for a longer period of time. Plus it's reasonably priced, readily available and doesn't look like a specialized piece of equipment. In babies with higher muscle tone (such as cerebral palsy), the Bumbo can help break up a tone pattern and allow them to sit and play with less handling. In kids with low muscle tone (such as Down Syndrome), the Bumbo can give them just enough support to interact and play with both peers and parents.
Again the Bumbo can be useful with the right child at the right time. I used a Bumbo with my daughter because she loved looking at the world from a sitting position and sometimes I needed to have my hands free. Remember to use the Bumbo seat properly. In 2007, Bumbo recalled nearly four million of their seats after 50 babies wiggled out or fell out of the Bumbo from a raised surface, resulting in injury. The company added a warning label and a seat belt system. Don't place any piece of baby equipment on a raised surface. Keep your babies close to the floor! I would imagine that most of the babies who were injured in the recall were too advanced and were simply trying to be mobile (see picture below). Use your Bumbo seat at the correct developmental stage, which might only be one to two months. Be sure to supervise your baby and use the seat in moderation or even rarely if you're up for the challenge. Most babies will only tolerate 10 minutes (or less). As always, the best thing your can do for a developing baby is supervised floor time! Lots of supervised floor time!
Thanks for reading,