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Babyhome Eat high chair designated Don't Buy: Safety Risk due to strangulation hazard

Consumer Reports News: February 13, 2013 05:38 PM

Consumer Reports has designated the Babyhome Eat high chair as Don't Buy: Safety Risk because it lacks key safety features designed to prevent an unharnessed child from sliding out of the seat or possibly being caught and strangled during a fall. Consumer Reports knows of no deaths or injuries associated with this high chair model.

The Babyhome Eat, a folding metal-framed high chair made in China for Babyhome USA, Inc. of Chester, N.J., fails to meet two key criteria in our tests, which are based in part on the voluntary ASTM International safety standards for high chairs. ASTM International, formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials, develops voluntary standards that are referenced worldwide.

The biggest problem is that the Babyhome Eat lacks a passive crotch restraint, essentially a fixed post that sits between the child's legs to prevent him from slipping under the tray and either falling or getting his head caught between the tray and seat, which can result in strangulation if the child is not harnessed. The Babyhome Eat has a five-point harness that can, and should, always be buckled to hold a child in place, but it doesn't have the fixed post that the standard specifies.

Consumer Reports notified Babyhome and the CPSC of our findings. CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson wrote in an e-mail that the "CPSC is currently investigating the Babyhome Eat high chair to determine if there is a strangulation hazard to young children, due to the lack of a vertical restraint bar."

Stellario D'Urso, Babyhome's vice president of sales and marketing, said that the company was "caught by surprise" because the Eat high chair passed when tested to the voluntary ASTM standards by an independent laboratory in China. That lab report was supplied to Consumer Reports. However, D'Urso said, Babyhome has concluded that the Consumer Reports findings are correct.

D'Urso said that if the CPSC approves, Babyhome will supply current owners with a crotch post that can be affixed to the Eat's food tray. If the CPSC does not approve of that remedy, the company will provide current owners with a replacement tray that includes a post. Either way, D'Urso said he estimates that the fix will be available by the end of February. In the meantime, we recommend that current owners stop using the chair.

The Babyhome Eat also requires the caregiver to attach the high chair's safety harness to the chair. The ASTM standard requires that the high chair's harness be attached to the frame by the manufacturer. This ensures that the harness is in place and that it is not left up to the user to install this crucial piece of safety equipment. The Babyhome Eat comes with a harness, but it is not attached to the frame. D'Urso said that going forward the high chair will be sold with the harness attached.

In addition, our testers found it very difficult to assemble the fabric seat to the frame. The seat fabric is meant to be wrapped around a horizontal crossbar at the front of the chair and snapped in place. The fabric on both Babyhome Eat high chairs we purchased was so short that only one of six staffers who tried was able to engage the snaps. Without the snaps secured, the seat simply hangs from the top of the frame and a child placed in the seat could fall to the ground before there is an opportunity to fasten the harness. D'Urso said that for new units, Babyhome will ask the factory in China to "give us a little more fabric so it is easier to assemble it."

During the past few years, Consumer Reports has found strangulation hazards with one other high chair and several strollers. In February 2012, we designated the Dream on Me Bistro high chair as a Don't Buy: Safety Risk because that chair also lacked a crotch post, among other safety issues, The Bistro was recalled in October 2012 along with the Dream on Me Happy Swing II. Consumer Reports did not test the Happy Swing II, but the CPSC cited the same strangulation hazard in announcing the recall.

Strollers we designated as Don't Buy Safety: Risk due to strangulation hazard include the iCandy Cherry and the Mutsy Evo in December 2012. CPSC announced a recall of the Mutsy Evo on Feb 7, 2013. We also gave Don't Buy: Safety Risk designations to the Valco Baby Tri-Mode Single and Twin, the Tike Tech Single City X3, and the Tike Tech X3 Sport, all recalled in October 2010; the Zooper Waltz, recalled in May 2011; and the Bumbleride Indie and Indie Twin, recalled in February 2012.

If you are shopping for a high chair, check our buying guide and Ratings to be sure to buy one that is safe and meets your budget and needs.

David Schiff

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