We bought it when our now five year old daughter was four months, most likely because I had seen it listed as an essential on some parenting website, browsed during those early sleepless nights, long before Instagram. It arrived just before Christmas and we positioned it in front of the Christmas tree, wedged her in and took a picture, one I cannot now find despite the thousands stored on both iCloud and Dropbox. It was the shock, mainly, at seeing this little girl who I had only ever known laying down, propped up in soft(ish) green foam, dribbling and bewildered but still – sitting up!
Isadora never really took to the Bumbo obviously, really no surprise to me now I know her. Determined to do everything herself, she was never going to take a poor substitute for a thing she really wanted then and still wants now – being a big girl. Being the oldest, biggest, strongest. As the youngest in her year, it’s something she’s been fighting to prove her whole life. The Bumbo wasn’t going to cut it, and although I shoved her in it a few more times, stiffened legs and all, it wasn’t going to be A Thing, and was soon relegated to a cupboard.
Pulled out again two years later for our strong-willed, fiercely independent Pearl, expectations were low. Of course, I had forgotten Pearl was also a second child. Mealtimes didn’t revolve around her, no-one clapped or even noticed when she shoved a whole portion of spaghetti bolognese into her mouth at six months and chewed, toothlessly, like her life depended on it. Dory had developed a slight thing about eating nicely at a table – and was indulged of course, like the first child she is – so Pearl was denied even the luxury of a highchair, most of the time. The Bumbo with a tray was her throne of choice, from which she demolished everything she was given from wherever she was placed, whether that was the corner of the living room or balanced precariously on the sofa (and yep, we even took it on holiday with us as the photo will attest . .). So successful was it, a year and a half passed before I realised it was getting harder to shove her beautifully rolled legs into it, or tuck her solid little tummy in behind the tray. Reluctantly this time, the Bumbo was once again relegated upstairs, and Pearl has never sat still or finished a meal since.
This time, it was left untouched for a year and a half until pulled out again last week. There’s still a bit of something that was probably edible once encrusted on the tray, but there it sits in the living room, waiting to reveal to us the personality of our third child. So far, five month old Agatha has eyed it warily – seated in it, she looked at me a bit desperately, making sure I wasn’t going to make a run for it. She’s my smallest baby and she looks tiny in it, which I think she senses from the dismissive way in which she throws the toys I give her to chew. She humoured it for ninety seconds before needing a cuddle to get over the experience. She’s too young, I’m sure. Or maybe she’s more needing of reassurance, maybe she’d rather sit by herself, maybe she’s possessed by character traits I haven’t even considered yet. Bumbo knows, and soon, when Agatha is ready, this most mundane of baby items will tell us. I can’t wait.