The Bumbo baby seat has been around for quite some time now and I'm regularly asked: 'is the bumbo baby seat safe?' While it provides an element of convenience for mums and dads, from a spine and neurological standpoint it is not great for your little one.
When I look at this picture I just panic!!
It's obvious these babies are way too small to be sitting – especially in the Bumbo. There is stress on their spines, their lower backs and necks are twisted and their heads are flopping forward. Without support, their precious necks will become weak. I was even shocked to hear some mums have put their bubs in these on the kitchen bench whilst they cook... it scares me!
Placing little babies in these seats before they are developmentally ready is not only potentially damaging to their lumbar spine (lower back) and cervical spine (neck) but sitting them in such an unnatural posture for too long, and not allowing them to move and interact, may affect them neurologically and developmentally.
Back in the good old days when this fancy equipment didn’t exist, babies would play on their tummies taking in their surrounds. This allows for their cervical curve to develop (baby to hold their head up) as well as for their visual cortex pathway (the part of the brain responsible for processing visual information) to develop. As first they learn at floor height, then sitting height, then crawling height and then walking height. There is a method to this pattern of development.
Babies that dislike tummy time may have stress and tension in their necks which later down the track may cause headaches, poor balance, poor motor control, a weak immune system and an increased incidence of ear infections. Not to mention a poorly developed cervical curve. From a developmental point of view, there is a reason why babies first hold their head up, roll, sit up, crawl and walk. This is because developmentally their curves are formed at different ages and their nerve system integrates at different stages also. They will first develop their cervical curve between 3-6 months and their lumbar curve from 6 months onwards, and it is their ability to hold their head up, roll, crawl and eventually walk, that determines this.
When can I use a Bumbo?
Until babies have learnt to confidently hold their heads and sit up by themselves - unaided, the use of a Bumbo is not recommended.
Babies that have been put in equipment too early and for too long, tend to be delayed to crawl and walk and can miss the vital step of synapses integrating left and right side of the brain (coordination). This is why cross crawling is vital, for certain pathways to occur. As baby moves their right arm and their left leg and then their left arm with their right leg, both sides of the brain must communicate and exchange information. It is these neurological pathways that are created when a baby learns to cross crawl, that are then used later in life to perform more difficult tasks, such as walking, running, passing an object from one hand to the other, or even taking notes in a class while listening to the teacher.
As a chiropractor, I hate having to tell patients that bumbos (and jumpers and walkers) are not good. The look of their faces! However what if I don’t say anything and this then has implications to their child’s learning? I would feel like I have failed in my job. I became a paediatric chiropractor to help babies and children achieve the most out of their lives, to grow up strong and healthy and have the maximum potential to be what ever they wish to be…. this is my mission I live by, this is why I do what I do!
About the Author:
Dr Andrea is a bubbly and energetic family Chiropractor and mama, working primarily with mothers and babies. Andrea has a great passion for helping women conceive, experience their optimal pregnancy and birth, and then raise healthy happy children. Andrea has also trained as a Doula and runs workshops for midwives at leading maternity hospitals, as well as brain development classes through Maternal Health Centres.