An inquest has heard that the death of a six-month-old boy was caused by the improper use of a Bumbo baby seat.

The Western Australian Coroner’s Court has heard that the boy’s Perth mother placed him in the seat under a running shower and left him alone for a few minutes in January 2013.  The mother had always stayed with the little boy when he was in the seat previously, and was  on this occasion feeling unwell and exhausted after trying to settle the restless child during a run of hot summer nights.

In the mother’s absence, the six-month-old fell out of the seat, which had moved to a position that blocked the drain of the shower.  The cubicle filled with water and she returned to find her baby son not breathing.

ABC news reports that she performed CPR until paramedics arrived and transported him to Joondalup Health Campus in Northern Perth.

The little boy died three days later in hospital, with a forensic pathologist later concluding the boy had died from bronchopneumonia and hypoxic brain injury after nearly drowning.

The court heard that there is a voluntary worldwide recall of four million of the foam seats was announced in August 2012, with a free restraint belt and new safety guidelines offered via the Bumbo website.

Evidence was also heard that the six-month-old’s seat had no restraints or harness fitted at the time of the incident.  Counsel assisting the coroner Lyle Housiaux also shared evidence that there are currently an estimated 950 new and used seats recently listed for sale, with almost half of them not including the retrofit safety harness.

“Kidsafe WA advises that all children should be closely supervised, within arm’s length, when in any water including when using bathrooms,” Mr Housiaux said.  “They report that it only takes a few seconds in 5cm of water for a child to drown.”

WA Police forensic officer Michael Jeffrey Lamb said a test of the 20cm-high shower recess showed it filled to overflowing within about seven minutes.

Investigating officer Sarah Long told the court the tragic accident would not have happened if product use recommendations had been followed.


Image source: Getty Images

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  • oh, how terribly sad


  • The baby may have swallowed or inhaled a lot of water. A baby doesn’t have to inhale much water to drown. The baby had bronchopneumonia which means the baby was most likely sick beforehand or it was what some know as secondary drowning. Sometimes a baby gasps, may temporarily hold his / her breath and may lose consciousness. (I know a paramedic and some Ambulance volunteers). The Mum wouldn’t hear over the sound of the running water splashing on the floor. The Bumbo Seats are also supposed to have a tray for safety. At the time that the warning was given the suppliers asked people to request a harness which I undertood was no charge.


  • ok, i get that the seat got wet and slippery and the child slipped out. But did that child not cry? it would have been hurt or scared? that doesn’t make sense to me, really! no-body should leave a child unattended in a bath or near water AT ALL!. NOT EVEN FOR A SEC! This story is really sad especially how it could have been avoided Seeing stuff like this makes me believe that ALL pregnant mothers and fathers, should be required to undertake education regarding child safety. Some of these parenting rules, that i thought were obvious, need to be talked about and parents need awareness. You need training to drive a car so why not have to undertake training to raise a child? It is a great idea and a lot more senseless death will be avoided. You need to get these people educated and confident to deal with little children and these days, with society the way it is, there is no family support or structure so for most people, the first time that they see a baby, it is their own.


  • Such an awful thing to happen but so avoidable. Please never leave your little ones unattended, especially in a situation like this where there are so many potential dangers.


  • what a tragedy, who in their right mind leaves a baby unattended around anything that is a potential killer, yes we become sleep deprived, therefore we hold off on bubs shower till we feel a lil refreshed, a dirty baby that is alive is better than a dead baby.


  • An unavoidable accident. I read the child was left for 7 minutes.
    So so sad


  • I’m sorry but I’m appalled and sickened by this.

    There is zero excuse to leave any child unattended… but to leave a SIX MONTH OLD a NUMBER OF MINUTES (not 5 seconds let’s be clear) unattended is criminal neglect.

    There are no winners in this, clearly, and I’m sure the mother is distraught… but fundamentally this is not an issue with the bumbo seat – but a parent who look liberties. Sorry but it’s the sad truth.


  • So very sad. The poor mother to have to go through this, tragic.


  • I didn’t know this story. So sad to hear about it!! :-(


  • So important to always supervise.


  • Such a sad story – really feel for this mother, especially knowing how stressful and thinly stretched mothers can become when trying to meet the needs of multiple children. A very sad and stressful event for the family. Glad to read action (in addition to education) has been taken to help improve safety of the device.


  • How awful. Never leave little ones in water unattended!


  • oh wow that is a tragic story – how heart breaking for the mother and family.


  • What a tragic accident. It’s so important to never leave children unattended when near the water.


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