When it comes to baby floor seats, there are many options but the two most innovative ones that people talk about currently are the Bumbo and the Upseat. They are two infant seats that have the same goal: to help babies as they are learning to sit up on their own. However, they couldn’t be more different. So which one is best?
There are many people with many different opinions about the seats, and I have mine as well. I will try to lay out for you the features as presented by the companies, so you can decide which one ultimately is the best for your baby and your needs.
Position For Baby
Learning to sit is an important skill that all developmentally average children will learn how to do. Babies will learn to sit up on their own even without props and seats, so it isn’t necessary for them to be propped up to learn the skill.
However, many parents love the Bumbo and the Upseat because it supports babies as they are learning to sit up so that they will be in the correct position. How the Bumbo and the Upseat hold babies is almost completely opposite, so read on to find out why each company thinks it has the best product for babies.
The Bumbo, first of all, has a contoured position that slightly reclines your baby back into the seat. The seat itself is deep and the baby’s legs are elevated slightly.
Bumbo explains that this design reclines the baby into a rounded back rest position. This is meant to be the best support possible for babies who haven’t learned to sit up yet. So this chair is meant to be used by babies who are about 3 months old or older.
At the 3 month old stage, babies are just barely gaining control over their necks to hold up their heads. Bumbo explicitly says that babies who cannot hold up their heads should not use the Bumbo. However, right after this skill is mastered, the baby should be ready to try out the floor seat.
So the reclined seat is meant for very little babies who cannot hold their trunks up. The recline of the seat is the very thing that will support your baby and hold them firmly in place when they may get tired or start to slump from one side to the other. For these situations, the Bumbo is an ideal seat. It is much more slim and offers a lot of support.
The Upseat was designed by physical therapists with the mission of creating a seat that is best for your baby’s posture. This might not seem like a huge deal because babies are so flexible at first, however, according to one of the physical therapists behind this chair, Dr. Jo-Anne Weltman, it is important to help your baby have proper posture right from the get-go because some of their joints are still developing.
You can view Dr. Jo-Anne Weltman below:
Below I have detailed how Upseat designed their floor seat and why.
The Upseat, on the other hand, is tilted forward rather than reclining back. This, according to the Upseat company, is what makes it the ideal seat for any baby.
The forward tilting position causes babies to have straight backs and to use their trunk muscles, which are the muscles they need to learn to sit on their own. Conversely, bumbo has their seat reclining back, which causes babies to have a rounded spinal position. This admittedly promotes poor posture in your baby as they rest against the back of the seat.
It may be easier for your baby to enjoy the Bumbo from an earlier age because it does offer more support to babies who have no muscles, but it doesn’t encourage babies to develop these muscles, and it of course does not encourage them to sit correctly.
Developing good posture now can reduce the risk of your child having back problems later in life. You may save quite a bit of money, and a world of pain by encouraging your child to have healthy habits this early in life.
According to Dr. Weltman, the physical therapist spokesperson for Upseat, the forward tilting position is great for more than just their spinal position. A forward-tilting position can also improve digestion, apparently.
She claims that when a baby has a rounded back, like when they are in the Bumbo, they will point their chin downward and this is not a great position for digestion. When they are in a seat that is tilted forward slightly like the Upseat, they hold their chin straight forward. This way the food will go straight down to their stomach without any roadblocks. Babies who eat while in the Bumbo could experience poor digestion, trouble chewing, or issues with acid reflux because their pathway to their stomach is not as much of a straight shot.
All of these issues can cause immediate discomfort and pain, but they can also have long term effects.
As a parent, of course, you want to protect your baby from as much potential pain as possible. It is hard to understand why babies cry because they use it as a response to so many negative feelings, but as your child’s advocate, it’s important to make sure they aren’t using a baby product that causes them discomfort.
Another key difference between the Bumbo and the Upseat is the leg openings.
A big issue that the Upseat is concerned about is hip dysplasia, which can be caused if the leg openings of the floor seat are not large enough.
So what is hip dysplasia, really?
Hip dysplasia is a common malady that many babies suffer from each year. So what exactly is it?
It is exactly what it sounds like; in a nutshell, hip dysplasia is a displacement of the hip. According to Boston Children’s Hospital, hip dysplasia is “when a baby’s hip socket (acetabulum) is too shallow to cover the head of the thighbone (femoral head) to fit properly….Some babies have a minor looseness in one or both of their hip joints. For other babies, the ball easily comes completely out of the socket.”
That sounds very painful. Even the minor looseness does not sound ideal.
So how does this happen in babies?
What Are The Causes?
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, many times this issue is caused before the baby is even born by one of the following:
- Gender: most babies with it are female.
- Babies born breech
- Low levels of amniotic fluid
- First babies, because they may be held tighter than other subsequent babies in a tighter uterus
- Family history of hip dysplasia
However, there are reasons why babies will develop hip dysplasia after they are born. The biggest reason is if babies legs and hips are held in too tightly. This can be from swaddling or using various baby products like carriers.
Upseat explains that a design like the one that the Bumbo has will hold the baby too tightly and not allow their hips and legs to move and be flexible like they should be.
As adults, we commonly have our legs straight out underneath us. We also commonly sit with our legs straight out or even crossed over. Making sure our babies have room to spread their legs out towards the sides from the hip joint isn’t something we likely even consider as an important need. However, babies do need to have this kind of stance to make sure that their ball joint develops correctly.
Otherwise, the ball joint of the femur will jut out toward the side and the socket will not be sufficient to cover it. Dr. Jo-Anne Weltman discusses that the hip joint is the only joint that continues to develop after we are born. This is why we cannot stand up immediately after we are born as some other animals can. It is vitally important that we make sure our babies have enough room to stretch and grow naturally without being restricted.
Upseat has a very roomy hip area and the leg openings are large enough for your baby to move around freely in.
In this scenario, Bumbo is not necessarily the villain, though the information we have about posture and hip dysplasia, makes them seem to be. The Bumbo seat is made to have a snug fit to make sure that babies fit safely and snugly. They want to make sure that the baby, especially very young ones are supported enough that they will not slump from side to side. They also want to have good enough support to hold the baby in place.
The leg openings on the Bumbo are notoriously small. This is likely to offer a good amount of support. However, I myself had issues with the leg openings for my own children. Even my very small babies, who were always pretty skinny babies, had a hard time getting in and out of the seat. I would sometimes have to pop the seat off of them as it would stick to their bums when I picked them up. And at times I would have to push their thighs into the leg holes. They were very small and only accommodated my babies for a couple of months.
Conversion to Booster
If you buy the Bumbo with a tray, you can easily use it as a floor seat to have snacks and other supervised meals. However, it is not meant to be a booster that you hook onto a chair. There is a completely different product that the Bumbo company makes and that is the multiuse chair.
The multi seat is strikingly similar to the Upseat. It can be used on the floor and as a booster well into toddler years. This Bumbo multi seat is basically the Upseat only slightly different colors and design. It really makes me wonder why they continue to even make the Bumbo floor seat? Apparently, it is still doing well enough that it makes sense to do it!
The multi seat works very well as a booster, so if you are looking for a product that is versatile like the Upseat, then you might want to look into the multiseat rather than the original Bumbo floor seat.
The Upseat on the other hand works great as a floor seat as well as a booster. It has straps that easily wrap around the base and back of a standard chair so your baby can eat meals with the rest of the family. The tray is removable, so they can have their own eating space or eat at the table with the family when they are a little older.
One of the really great things about the Upseat is that it is meant to grow with your child. Your baby can use it until they are about 30 pounds, which means they will be using it until they do not need a booster at the table anymore.
As mentioned before, the leg holes are much bigger on the Upseat than on the Bumbo, so it makes it more comfortable for older children to sit in, even older children with thicker thighs.
Another nice thing about the Upseat vs. the Bumbo is that the Upseat is meant to be a booster so it comes with a tray, where you will have to purchase that separately if you buy a Bumbo.
I do love the trays that both the Bumbo and the Upseat make. They are essentially the same tray, so you can’t really compare them.
The thing I love most about the tray is that it doesn’t have any weird clicking or locking underneath that can be difficult to figure out. If you have read my review on the Bumbo floor seat, then you will know that weird locking trays frustrate me to no end.
All boosters and high chairs are different and it is so frustrating to go to a friend’s house and borrow their booster just to be embarrassed while you fumble around trying to figure it out.
Some trays slide, others lock into place on the sides. Either way, they are difficult to figure out. And then there are the times where you accidentally pinch your baby in the tray mechanism! It’s hard to forgive yourself for things like that.
These trays just aren’t worth your time!
The Bumbo and Upseat both have a small tray that sets down into the middle horn of the chair and attaches below. There really isn’t a way you can screw it up because there is literally only one place where the tray can actually fit. No locking mechanisms, no sliding, no pinching. It is a dream come true.
Both the Upseat and the Bumbo are very portable floor seats. They are lightweight at less than 5 pounds for each chair. This makes the seat a perfect option to take to friends houses, to the babysitter’s, or to grandmas.
You can fit them both into a trunk easily. They do not need to collapse and they don’t have a lot of parts that you could potentially lose. They are fairly compact for a seat.
You can move this seat from room to room so your baby can feel like he or she is participating in your life as you do your daily tasks.
I will say that the Upseat does have a slight upper hand in the portability features however because it has a handle on the back. This might not seem like a very important thing, but trust me it is. When you are holding a diaper bag, a baby, and the Upseat, you are going to be grateful for any handles you can find.
The Upseat company at this point in time only sells the Upseat. It is very successful, but that is the only product on the website that is up for sale. There are no accessories or gimmicks. There is only the seat that comes with the tray and the necessary straps to make it into a booster.
There is a variety of a few different suction figurine toys that Bumbo sells. The variety does change from time to time, so it isn’t worth mentioning them all right now. There were six at one point, but right now I think there are only four available.
Each figurine is of an animal and each one does different things. Some rattle, some shake, some twist. Whatever you feel your baby would be most interested in, you can purchase. Or just get the one that matches your nursery best. It’s always great to have variety.
Bumbo also has a little playtop that can go on the tray for the Bumbo. It also has suction cups so it is more versatile and you can put it in other places besides the Bumbo tray. You could put it on the fridge or the dishwasher or in the tub.
This safari playtop has a little plastic flipbook, an animal figure, and other toys that will entertain your baby while you get some things done around the house.
The Safari Gym is one of my favorite toys that Bumbo produces. It is set up like a baby gym so your baby can enjoy it before it is even ready to sit in the Bumbo. Your baby can lay underneath it and try to grab the hanging toys from above, or your baby can sit in the Bumbo and play with it in front of their face.
The toy bar can move and the legs adjust so you can have it at the perfect height for your baby to really enjoy. One thing I really like about this toy, in particular, is the mirror feature. All my babies have loved to watch themselves in the mirror and it can entertain them for much longer than any other standard toy.
Of course, all of these toys are sold separately and they do not have a special mechanism that only works with the Bumbo. Because these toys attach with the suction feature, they can be used on any smooth surface. So even if you do buy the Upseat, you can still buy the toys for your baby to enjoy.
As far as variety goes, Bumbo has been at this game for a long time and it has way more variety to offer. There are several colors and depending what website you look at to buy them, there are different varieties available.
Even aside from the color of the actual foam seat, Bumbo also sells fabric liners. I honestly would probably never buy one because cleaning the Bumbo as it is, is basically the easiest thing on the planet. However, if you like some of the choices available, then a fabric liner could be something you’re interested in. Also, it is a great way to cover up stains or bite marks if you have any issues with that.
The Upseat only comes in two colors that I am aware of. Honestly, it isn’t the worst thing in the world to have a limited amount of colors. Sure, it would be nice to have a seat that perfectly coordinates with your nursery or your kitchen. But the colors that Upseat does provide currently, which is grey and blue are colors that most people like or at least feel neutral about.
It’s definitely not a deal-breaker to me that they don’t sell it in my favorite shade of pink.
Upper Body Mobility
Upper Body Mobility is one of those aspects of an infant floor seat that you probably haven’t really considered before researching them. Lucky for us, there are some real experts designing these chairs.
The Upseat is much more conducive for encouraging upper-body mobility. Because the seat starts higher under the baby’s bum and declines toward the feet, it props the baby up. This causes the baby to have better posture as mentioned above, but it also allows the baby to sit up straight and be able to rotate fully to either side.
The armrest portion of the seat is not in the way of the baby’s arms and it has a straight back, that allows it to move from side to side.
So why is this important?
While a baby is seemingly just playing and observing the world around him or her, he or she is actually working on arm coordination and developing trunk muscles. These muscles are the muscles that need to be developed to hold your back up in the proper position. They are also essential to sit up on your own.
So if your baby still doesn’t quite have sitting down, the Upseat will actually train the muscles in their bodies to hold themselves up.
The Bumbo on the other hand, as I mentioned before is mostly just a prop seat. It holds your baby securely, but it by no means is teaching your baby to sit, especially not teaching your baby to sit with good posture.
The Bumbo seat is reclining back, which makes the spine round. Just try rounding your back and moving from side to side. It is much more difficult to do than if you are sitting up straight and turning from one side to another. Babies who have very weak trunk muscles anyway are very unlikely to work extra hard to make these turns.
This means that they will not develop the trunk muscles that they need to sit up. So essentially, the Upseat trains your baby to sit (and sit correctly) the Bumbo seat is a holding place for babies to experience a new position and observe the world in a different way. That is not a bad thing! It’s just that if you’re going to invest in a seat, you probably want to invest in the seat that helps your baby rather than just holds it.
Overall, I think it is pretty clear which product is the best between the Upseat and the Bumbo floor seat. The Bumbo is not necessarily a bad product. If you have one already I wouldn’t necessarily throw it away. As long as you don’t keep your baby in it for hours on end, it is probably a decent product. It, like all baby gear sold in the US, passed FDA regulations for babies, which is pretty strict, so it is still a quality product.
It’s just in the argument of good, better, and best, the Upseat would be the best and the Bumbo would fall into the good category. Of course, that is my biased opinion. But based on the information available, the Upseat seems like the safest and healthiest option for babies.