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Child Injured While in Bumbo: Who's at Fault, Parent or Product?

The Bumbo features prominently on the baby shower registries of millions of women around the world.

But, as Mitch Lipka reports over on Yahoo, although the chair – which is used to help babies sit up before they’re able to do so on their own – has an unquestioned success in sales, its safety record is not as certain.

Lipka says Kevin and Lucy Ferrell learned that lesson the hard way when 9-month-old Colby fell out of the seat and fractured his skull.

“He arched his back up and he kind of flipped out of it sideways and backwards and rolled right off (the table),” Kevin Ferrell says. “It just happened in a split second.”

Those injuries are happening a lot. So much that the South African company recalled Bumbo in 2007 after 28 injuries reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Bumbo began placing warnings on the seats that they shouldn’t be used on elevated surfaces like tables and couches but, unlike cribs, car seats and high chairs, the Bumbo is not governed by any government or industry standard.

The Ferrells decided to file a lawsuit against the company and Toys R Us, where the Bumbo was purchased on their registry. They accuse Toys R Us  of knowingly stocking a baby product that has caused injuries. Documents obtained as part of that lawsuit show 300 reported Bumbo-related accidents in America, Great Britian and other countries. The Ferrell’s case is still in a pretrial phase.

A month ago the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a warning that there have been another 45 accidents since the recall. Not only that, but it had learned of another 18 older cases where children were injured as a result of sitting in the Bumbo whether it was on the ground or elevated.

The Ferrell’s lawyer, Ross Cunningham, tells Yahoo he has settled a dozen lawsuits over Bumbo’s safety. He also says the company has done absolutely nothing to fix the product to prevent children from getting out of it even though they know it can be dangerous to children.

Bumbo’s U.S. attorney offers up a statement from Bumbo:

“The Bumbo baby seat is a safe product for infants when it is used as intended: on the floor and never on an elevated surface,” the statement says. “Children should always been closely supervised when they are in the Bumbo seat.”

The company also says it is working with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to educate parents on the correct use of the seat. Which leads me to my question for you. If you own a Bumbo, wouldn’t you check out how your kid does in it before sitting him on a kitchen table? As with any other type of baby gear – don’t you thoroughly vet how well your kid does in it before completely trusting it?

Violet always rolled out of her Bumbo. Henry too. He wouldn’t sit in it for two seconds without arching his back and flipping out. I would never leave either kid alone in it. So while I think Colby Ferrell’s injuries are horrible, I question the Ferrells’ judgment is sitting their son in a an unrestrained chair on a table. I’d sit Violet in the Bumbo on the couch next to me or on the floor while watching TV, but that’s it. And Henry, forget about it. The Bumbo has been put away.

The question, I suppose, comes down to this: Do you have complete trust in any type of baby product or do you test out how your kid will do in each and every product. Sure you trust a crib not to collapse, but that’s not a similar analogy. The Bumbo isn’t failing to work properly, some kids just don’t sit still and I don’t think it’s Bumbo’s responsibility if they get injured. That’s a kind of use-at-your-own-risk product. While some babies may sit still for hours, you never know what crazy maneuvers other babies are going to make, you know? So does this make it Bumbo’s fault or are they simply offering a product, one that doesn’t have a seatbelt, that parents can choose to use with their baby or realize the risks and not use?

Also, have you ever had any close calls with the Bumbo? Would you blame yourself or the product if your child was injured?

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