What the Bumbo?
They’re all the rage.
They allow your baby sit upright, like us. You can pop your little one in one so they can look around and see the world from the same perspective as we do. You can keep them in one place while you get a little work done around the house. Seems like there could be no harm in using one of these popular contraptions. Unfortunately that’s not 100% the case. We’re all about allowing folks to parent however they choose. We’re also about making educated decisions. So let’s get to it. What could possibly be wrong with a Bumbo!?
To get the full picture we’ve gotta take a little lesson in anatomy, biomechanics, and basic neurodevelopment.
When a baby is born their spine is not fully developed. Adults have three distinct curves in their spine.
Babies haven’t developed their spinal curves yet.
The developmental process is very intricate and influences their strength, coordination, and mobility. It drives the pathways that allow for euro development, and patterns that your child will retain through adulthood. Babies learn to roll over, then sit up independently, crawl, and eventually walk. That specific order is crucial. They reach those milestones when their body’s physical structure can support it and when their coordination will allow it.
So what are the consequences of jumping the gun and sitting/walking before they’re ready?
Some research suggests that Bumbo seats and similar devices impact motor development and can delay, alter, and even result in long term dysfunction. This comes as a shock to most parents, as the marketers of these devices claim to “train” your baby to sit up right. If you’re a member of our practice you know a healthy person doesn’t need much extra help, they just need a nervous system clear of interference and right nutritional building blocks to fuel their bodies. The “training” that is most beneficial for infants is the natural progression of learning to use their own muscles and movements when they have the strength to do so. And much like the ongoing use of a brace or cast in an adult, it actually causes your child to be dependent on the support and delays the strengthening of the musculature that supports their spine and posture.
Researchers have associated Bumbo seats and the like with muscle spasms, irregular gait (walking) patterns, and delayed walking milestones.
Back to their spines.
Our spines (and all of our bones) have very distinct patterns that develop to appropriate handle the stress and pressure of our own body weight. The joints develop certain angles that aren’t there at birth. Engineers and architects are probably nodding in agreement that this makes perfect sense. If you don’t have a degree in architecture (lol, because why would you?), think about building a house of cards or a sand castle. The base that supports the weight of the rest of the structure is critical. Otherwise it may not support the rest of the structure, or it may start to sink, become lopsided, or warped. Our joints are the same way. When you force a child into a weight bearing position before their body is ready, the joint cannot support the stress appropriately. This can lead to additional long term issues.
“But my kids used a Bumbo and they’re fiiiiiine.”
It’s possible. It’s definitely possible. But maybe your kid had ongoing issues with constipation, or some immune issues. Maybe your kiddo has chronic ear infections. Does your child have problems with ADD/ADHD? Are you constantly telling your child to sit up straight because they have poor posture? All of these are simple issues that we don’t typically attribute to spinal health. But as chiropractors we understand how certain stresses in the spine can manifest as symptoms that we may not normally attribute to biomechanics.
So what now?
I’m not saying throw out your Bumbo.
But if you want to, feel free.
I’m not saying you’re a bad person for wanting your baby to sit at the dinner table with the rest of you.
I’m saying that now you know the other half of the story. What you do with that info is up to you!
And remember, a pediatric chiropractor can check you’re child’s spine and let you know all you need to. If you did use or continue to use a Bumbo, the best thing you can do for your child is to have their spine checked regularly by a pediatric chiropractor. Where do you find one? ICPA chiropractors have additional training in checking a child’s spine. Find the registry here.