Bumbo Seats: To Use or Not to Use?

Chris LoRang Your Best Life

Bumbo SeatParents often ask us about Bumbo Seats and their effects on infants. They want to know: Will this device hurt my child’s development?

This is an important question. But finding a clear answer can be confusing due to the contradictory information about these device’s appropriateness.

What we tell parents is that, from a developmental perspective, our suggestion is to avoid Bumbo Seats. Here are two reasons why:

1. Bumbo Seat’s claims are not supported by biomechanical and neurological science.

The Bumbo Seat website states:

“The Bumbo Floor Seat was designed to seat young babies who can’t sit up by themselves yet. As soon as your baby can support their own head you can seat them in the Bumbo Floor Seat.”

The problem is that infant floor seats are so effective at helping a child sit up, that they compromise the child’s ability to develop their own core stability and may prevent the child from moving in natural and independent ways. Then the child may be at risk of developing abnormally, which can affect everything from everyday movements to athletic participation.

When an infant first moves, they have very little control. But, if allowed to move independently, they develop more stability and strength over time. Without intervention, a 6-month old infant will begin to roll over and crawl. As time continues, they will develop the stability to sit up on their own for short periods of time. Between 6-12 months, they will be able to sit by themselves for longer periods of time.

In order for these motor patterns to develop, the child must be able to interact with its environment without support and without obstruction. These exciting milestones, part of the developmental process, happen when a child is ready and when they have developed all the necessary motor patterns to do so.

So, from a biomechanical standpoint, when a child who cannot sit up by his or herself is forced into this position artificially by an external device like a Bumbo Seat, it does not benefit them in the long run.

Another reason to be cautious of Bumbo Seats is:

2. Tummy time is just as good or better for encouraging interaction with their surroundings.

A feature that Bumbo Seat promotes is heightened interaction with an infant’s surroundings. As their website states:

“The seat has many technical design features that supports the baby’s posture allowing them to interact with their surroundings.”

It is true that the chair allows infants to interact with their surroundings. However, in providing support for the baby’s posture, the chair discourages the child from developing their own stability.

Instead, the best environment for this experimentation and discovery is uninhibited on their tummy and their back, in a safe place. This position will still allow the child to interact with their surroundings, while supporting their natural and complete progression of development.

As children develop their own core stability and their own ability to sit, these devices may be considered. However, we still encourage patients to limit the use of these chairs, opting instead for tummy time.

Tummy Time

 

Key takeaways

Infants are incredible adapters and learners. And infants require time on their backs and tummies to develop. That is why we do not recommend Bumbo Seats and other fixed devices for infants, like infant floor seats and jumper seats.

Instead, keep it simple and let your child develop at their own pace with little intervention. Then at every milestone, you will be there to celebrate with them!

Resources

“Alternatives to Using the Bumbo Seat”

“Tummy Time Tips”

“Beware the Bumbo Seat”

Curious about your infant’s development?

Speak with a developmental kinesiology specialist like Dr. LoRang. If you would like to bring your infant into the clinic, just call us at 515-421-4018. We’d love to see your little one!

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