Friday, December 28, 2007

bumbo, I still love you

I recently learned of the Bumbo baby chair recall when I called my brother to see if we could get ours back for baby #2. He had passed it along to someone else and we won't be able to purchase a new one. This had me completely bummed. We loved the Bumbo.

While I sympathize with the parents of the children hurt while using the Bumbo chair I can't help but feel that Bumbo is getting a bum deal in this whole recall thing. Don't get me wrong, I understand the trauma of seeing your little one injured, hell, I panic when my 2 year old gets a fever, but don't accidents exist any more? I always felt very aware that my wobbly infant was destined for falls and spills whether I was inches from him or a few feet away.

IF memory serves, the box and instructions clearly stated that like any infant novelty device (let's be clear, this is NOT a safety device) the seat was not a babysitter, nor intended as a safety seat guaranteed to be secure in any way. It was not recommended for use on surfaces above floor level, and, yes, it was always a possibility that your wriggly infant may work their way out of the chair... and honestly I didn't need the instructions or a sticker on the seat to tell me that. It seemed intuitive. The Bumbo chair has no safety harnesses and resembles nothing I would ever mistake as a fortress of safe keeping for my child. It is a piece of molded foam painted in pretty colors. It gives them some support while they are learning to sit up on their own.

It's one of those things about our modern culture's mindset that really drives me nuts...this idea that there are, or should be, guarantees in life that you and your friends and family will never have accidents or incidents of misfortune. It never seems to be user error anymore...or, God forbid, a simple accident.
There is always someone to blame, a product at fault.

In my two years of motherhood my son has taken many spills, survived numerous bloody lips and bitten tongues (even a scar on the forehead) without the end result being lawsuits and recalls. Isn't that simply the price we all pay to learn basic motor skills? Aren't childhood injuries an expected folly of learning the ropes?

I dropped my son on his back and head once when I slipped while carrying him upstairs. I actually fell on top of him making the matter worse. We went to the doctor and, luckily, he was just fine. However, if he had been seriously injured I am confident that I would not have been recalled as his mother, no charges would have been filed with CPS and my husband would not have banned me from holding him...nor would I have won any lawsuit against the contractor that built our house or the sock manufacturer that made my treacherous , slippery socks. It was an accident. These things do happen...sometimes with tragic results.

Why has litigation become ingrained as one of the steps in the grieving process when tragedy strikes?

If our infants were guaranteed safety in consumer products why would they need us at all to care for them? How many parents drop their infants every year causing injury? I'm going to bet that happens much more frequently than the injuries caused using these chairs. Does there have to be blame just because a consumer product was involved? Can we no longer distinguish between a serious product malfunction or flaw and simple expected risk of using products?

I know I probably sound horribly cynical and sarcastic, but I can't help feeling that one of the big problems in our modern times is our bad habit of not being able to accept that accidents do happen, even tragic ones. Our habit of finding blame for accidents and injuries that are inevitable in a life lived outside of a heavily cushioned, sterile bubble.

4 comments:

Sarah lowe said...

I totally agree with the sentiment of this post, but you should know:
bumbo seats haven't been recalled in the commonly understood sense of the word. They have a new warning label stating that they should not be used on raised surfaces, and owners of seats that were purchased before the new warning label are supposed to acquired the new label stickers and instructions free of charge from bumbo.

You can still buy the seats all over the place.

Yeah, it's pretty weird and confusing. Read about it here:
http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml08/08046.html

Suzy said...

thanks for the info. sarah!
i knew they were being refitted with warning labels, but off the market from the company until they could make the adjustment.
I had also read that many parents were outraged that this was the only action taken...
I'm kind of pleased with the outcome and am glad that the company isn't taking the product off the market completely...because there is really nothing wrong with their product. ;)

Reetsyburger said...

suzy, I'm confused!

When I did a search for Bumbo, I found them for sale all over the interwebs.

So you can't buy it?

Suzy said...

yes, yes... we can buy it. i was misinformed. no worries. we will have another bumbo. crisis averted!