Overwhelming Response To Bumbo Infant Seat Concerns

Thursday, September 27, 2007

E-mails are pouring in about the 7 On Your Side investigation into safety problems with a very popular new baby chair -- it's called the Bumbo Baby Sitter..

Our investigation revealed some frightening incidents where babies fell out of Bumbo chairs. The report triggered a lot of response. Several parents from around the country wrote in saying their kids suddenly tumbled out of a Bumbo seat too. Lots of other parents wrote to say injuries are really the parents' fault. And now because of our reports a worldwide child safety organization is calling for action, and the government is using our reports to advance its investigation

Little Heidi Stewart of Napa liked to sit in her Bumbo chair at meal time.

"She loved being in the Bumbo. She could have her hands free and yet she could be sitting up," said Analyn Stewart of Napa.

Her mother Analyn took the Bumbo everywhere. But on the family camping trip, she got a big scare.

"I had it flat on the picnic table in front of me. I was feeding her and went to spoon another spoon of food for her and she arched backwards and at that point one of her legs went out and she tumbled onto the table," said Stewart.

Analyn says she was lucky the baby wasn't hurt. She thought the accident was isolated, but the case was far from it.

Up north in Washington state, Ann Marie and Marshall Gill often put little Eva in a Bumbo on the kitchen counter.

"I would generally put her right here and I'd start working and prepping for dinner," said Marshall Gill from Washington.

And one day it happened.

"I just turned around for a split second and I heard a thump and there she was on the floor," said Marshall Gill.

Luckily Eva was alright too, but these parents and others wrote to us after seeing our report last week about kids who were badly hurt after falling from a Bumbo.

"I cannot believe something that serious could have happened to Eva," said Ann Marie Gill from Washington.

The Bumbo Baby Sitter is a new product from South Africa that gets huge raves but there are scary reports of kids tumbling out.

We told you about Little Dylan Lamm of Santa Rosa who nearly died after he fell from a tabletop. A baby in Kansas and a little girl in Discovery Bay had similar accidents.

All of these babies are alright now, but the number of cases keeps growing.

7 On Your Side received nine more Bumbo accident reports in the past week; that's triple the number of reports we obtained earlier from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

"Parents shouldn't put up with it. You should expect that when you buy a product in this country in particular and you use it as directed or as marketed, your child is not going to get hurt," said Alan Korn from Safe Kids Worldwide.

Alan Korn is public policy director of the non-profit consumer group Safe Kids Worldwide in Washington D.C. Because of our investigation, Safe Kids Worldwide is calling for greater scrutiny of the Bumbo chair after seeing our reports.

This, after seeing how babies can get out of the chair on their own. It has no straps and injury reports we've obtained show some babies were hurt even while seated on the floor.

However the biggest danger came when parents placed the Bumbo up high. Parents said they thought that was okay because Bumbo advertises the chair is safe on any level surface, and ideal for eye level feeding.

"If I had seen that he was going to get out, I never would have placed it up there. If I had heard of of other people who had their child get out, I wouldn't have done it either," said Kevin Lamm from Santa Rosa.

Kevin Lamm is the father of the Santa Rosa baby who almost died.

"We'd seen pictures of people using it on the table, we'd seen it everywhere," said Lamm.

Safe Kids says the ads should match the actual safe use.

"It certainly is enough cause for investigation to see how the product is being designed and how it is being marketed," said Korn.

But many viewers wrote to us saying injuries are the responsibility of the parents -- not the chair.

"I feel really bad that a child got hurt but I really don't think it's the product's fault," said Carol Vangell.

Carol Vangell of San Francisco put her daughter Alexandra in a Bumbo and she did set her on tabletops, but Carol says she kept a close watch.

"We used it on the floor and on the counter but when it was on the counter of course I was never out of arm's distance from her," said Vangell.

The Bumbo Company points to this warning label on the chair saying: "Never use on a raised surface."

Bumbo says the chair is safe with suitable supervision, and it warns not to leave babies unattended.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is investigating the Bumbo chair, but as of this week, that investigation is still going on.

To report the Bumbo seat to the CPSC, visit The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

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