Warning: Be Careful With Bumbo

Baby seat may be more unsafe than labels lead consumers to believe.

ByABC News via logo
January 8, 2009, 1:16 AM

Oct. 25, 2007 — -- Touted on a company Web site as a "snug and cozy environment for your baby," the Bumbo Seat infant chair may actually be the opposite. The Consumer Product Safety Commission is warning parents to take caution -- your child could be in danger if the seat is used improperly.

The Bumbo Seat, recommended for babies between two months and 14 months, doesn't have any safety belt or harness. The plastic seat is designed to help babies sit upright and develop trunk control before they can do so on their own.

But babies who arch their backs while sitting in the Bumbo can flip out of the seat and land on their heads, a fall that could be deadly if the Bumbo is placed high on a table or countertop.

Amber Black said she watched in horror as her baby, Brookyln, fell out of a Bumbo Seat and off the kitchen counter head first.

"She was going in and out of consciousness she was going down and coming back. We freaked out and called 911," Black said. Thankfully, Brooklyn recovered quickly.

Videos posted on YouTube show other babies escaping from their Bumbos, from wriggling their way out to taking tumbles from countertops.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission knows of at least 28 incidents of babies falling out of Bumbo Seats. Three of those cases resulted in skull fractures.

"The reports of serious head injuries prompted the CPSC to announce a nationwide warning to consumers that have these -- not to put these on elevated surfaces and be aware that children can climb out of them or they can tip over in these chairs," CPSC Senior spokesperson Julie Vallese said.

ABC's San Francisco affiliate, KGO, uncovered several incidents involving children falling from Bumbo Seats -- including Dylan Lamm.

Kevin Lamm said shortly after he put his son Dylan in a Bumbo on a table, the child had to be airlifted to a hospital. "I can't lose him. I don't know what to do if I lost him... he means everything to us," Dylan's mother Mary Catherine Doherty said.

Doctors told the couple their son was near death. "By the time we got there, there was no pulse. Three minutes more and he would be dead," Dylan's father Kevin Lamm remembered.

Dylan had arched his back and tilted the Bumbo Seat, causing him to fall backwards and onto the kitchen floor. His skull cracked in two places. An emergency surgery saved Dylan's life, leaving a long scar on his head. The Lamms are suing the Bumbo Company.

At one point, the Bumbo web site declared the seat safe for use on "any level surface." Photos of babies sitting in the seat on a table during a birthday party were posted on the company's web site and displayed on its packaging.

"Because of other marketing, parents are being encouraged to use this seat in a way that could be dangerous to their child," Vallese warned.

The Bumbo Seat carries a small warning: "never use on a raised surface." But the CPSC says it is working with retailers and the manufacturer to feature a much more prominent warning.

The company now has a safety alert on its web site and also tells customers, "the Bumbo is as secure as the surface it sits on."

Bumbo told ABC News they do not encourage parents to use the seats on raised surfaces and that they have been cooperating with the CPSC. The company said they are making new warning labels and instructions and taking the seats off shelves until the warnings can be added.

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