The Bumbo: Mommy’s Best Friend or User Beware?

Often times as I peruse my Newsfeed on Facebook, I have to bite my tongue when I see certain pictures.  I know I’m not alone here.  We all have thoughts about writing a comment to tell someone EXACTLY WHAT WE THINK but in the end, nobody really cares about our opinion.  But I saw a picture similar to this one (just in case the anonymous person reads our blog) and I cringed.  Just looking at this picture made my spine hurt:

Let’s talk about the piece of baby equipment that is on most Baby registries: The Bumbo Seat. You may have heard that the Bumbo is bad for babies.  But do you know why the Bumbo might be a Physical Therapist or Chiropractor’s nemesis?

Bumbo-Baby

This picture was just taken from the internet and is not someone we know, but serves as a good example. This little boy is one month old and way too young to be placed in a Bumbo.  Aside from that, the Bumbo is on a couch and the baby could easily tip over if he somehow does have super-human strength for a one-month old.

The Bumbo website (www.bumbo.com/products/) states that “The Bumbo Floor seat was designed to seat young babies who can’t sit up by themselves yet.” The idea is that the seat supports the baby’s posture and allows him to interact with his surroundings and offer a different point of view. It warns that you shouldn’t put your baby in the seat before he or she can support their own head. Sounds great right?

Here are a couple of milestones to keep in mind:

  • Babies can hold their head in steady in a supported seating position around 3-5 months.
  • Between 6-9 months, children begin to sit upright on the floor supported at first, then by themselves.
  • Between 9-12 months, children can sit completely on their own and have better control of their upper body.  This includes reaching for objects and twisting the torso. Some may even begin to stand on their own with or without support.

Children reach these milestones at different rates and ages.  They naturally progress based on activation and control of their muscle groups.  Children start with time on the back, then tummy time, then sitting and eventually standing and walking.  If a child is placed in a Bumbo before they are developmentally ready for sitting, it can interfere with the natural progression of learning these skills. Sitting in the Bumbo means that the baby is placed in a passive position and not actively relying on muscular control to balance and stabilize the torso. Activities such as tummy time and sitting independently help with proprioception of the joints and muscles.

Onto the good stuff: The spine. In 2012, The Chicago Tribune published an article by Mary Weck, the clinical coordinator of Physical Therapy at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Weck breaks down the statement made on the Bumbo website about spinal and pelvic alignment:

Bumbo says: “The seat stabilizes the child into slight hip flexion, placing the pelvis in a slight anterior pelvic tilt which facilitates lumbar extension.”

Weck says: “Actually, it does the exact opposite. It puts the baby’s pelvis in a posterior tilt, which facilitates lumbar flexion, not extension. That puts the baby’s chest behind the pelvis. Then the head has to come too far forward. It’s no longer positioned directly above the chest.”

Bumbo says: “The chair allows a child the pelvic stability needed to get the hands into the midline for play.”

Weck says: “Children don’t need a chair to get their hands in that position. At the age they’re using the Bumbo, they are able to do that in a variety of positions anyway.”

Bumbo says: “Upright positioning facilitates an improved visual field of the environment, improved respirations and breath control and assists a baby who needs to be upright after feeding due to reflux.”

Weck says: “Studies show tummy time is good at stabilizing the visual field of the environment. Research also shows respirations and reflux are better when the infant is prone rather than upright, as long as the baby is in the proper prone position. One reason the chairs tip over is that babies need to move. This chair holds them from getting the vestibular motion they need to give them control of their eyes and other sensory issues. All the benefits you get from moving are inhibited in a chair.”

In summary, children don’t need equipment to develop properly as they reach milestone on their own.  On the flip side, there are plenty of children who spent hours in the Bumbo and are developmentally fine.  Parents are busy and sometimes they just need to set their baby in a Bumbo for 15 minutes.  This blog post is not meant to make anyone feel bad about any parenting choices, it is merely information that you can either learn from or ignore. Professionally, I would not recommend putting your baby in a Bumbo before they can sit up on their own.

If you would like some Bumbo alternatives, check out MamaOT’s blog at: http://mamaot.com/2013/07/17/alternatives-to-using-the-bumbo-seat/

For more information about the Bumbo, see the Chicago Tribune’s article at http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-03-15/health/ct-met-bumbo-posture-20120315_1_physical-therapists-developmental-benefits-babies and http://mamaot.com/2013/07/16/beware-the-baby-bumbo-seat/.  Both were used as resources for this post.

If your baby seems to be struggling with some developmental milestones, let us take a look! Contact us at www.mynoblechoice.com

 

tropical6