Breastfeeding Baby…. Doll?

I’ll admit it, I’m not a fan of public breast-feeding. There. I said it. Now, does that mean I look on with disdain at women who publicly breastfeed? Hardly. I simply wouldn’t choose to do it. In fact, I was a formula mom from day one and have no complaints or regrets about it. Every woman is different and has to make the choice that best suits her and her family.

Of course, I understand that science feels breast milk is best, and since I am not a scientist or doctor, I wouldn’t dream of arguing the point. All I know is my formula-fed daughter is smart, strong, happy and healthy. I couldn’t ask for more and so I still believe in the power of choice.

Having said all that, I wonder how many people have noticed that there’s been an active campaign in this country to (more than) encourage new mothers to breastfeed their babies. Hospitals have gone as far as to block formula companies from providing new moms with free samples. That’s how I obtained the first case of formula for my daughter.

Well, it seems that campaign has taken off in new, bizarre directions, now targeting not just the new moms of today but also future moms… like moms who won’t be moms for another fifteen years or so. Like future moms who have yet to reach puberty.

What, you must be asking, am I talking about? I’m talking about “bebe Gloton” or the Breast Milk Baby, which is a doll. Yes. A doll for your little girl to play with. This doll comes with a “magic top” that your little girl will put on, and this magic top has special appliques placed just so over her not-yet-there-breasts and when she holds this baby doll up to the applique, it connects with a sensor in the doll’s mouth that causes it to suckle. Yes. Your baby girl will be “nursing” her baby doll.

See here:

I find this to be obnoxious and highly inappropriate. I see it as pushing children into adulthood before they’ve had a chance to be children. I see it as forcing a “choice” on them at an impressionable age, an age where they not only do not understand their future options but shouldn’t even have to be aware of them. And I see it as setting them up for failure if they happen to grow into adults who cannot or choose not to breastfeed. What’s worse, is the statement on the manufacturers website that “God supports the Breast Milk Baby”.

So, I have to ask. If you have children of baby-doll age or know someone who does, would this toy make it to your short list… or to any shopping list? Or are you as turned off by this as I am?

==

EDIT – I just found a post about the doll at Topless Robot. I thought the post and the comments were quite interesting. Maybe you will, too. Find it here: Topless Robot

28 Responses to Breastfeeding Baby…. Doll?

  • CNN’s last comment regarding what someone said on FB was the best. What will the next “toy” be that simulates some other bodily function? Dolls that throw up, boy dolls who have penises, or girl dolls with vaginas? I think all this is not necessary at such a young age, or for that matter, any age. There are better ways for girls and boys to learn about bodily functions than their parents buying them $69 dollar toys. Parents have a responsibility to explain these things to their kids and not give up that duty to Mattel or whatever other toy manufacturer is out there.
    Just my opinion……

    • I’d heard that last comment and wondered the same thing. Where does it end? I think, while the manufacturer justifies this by saying “there’s nothing sexual about breastfeeding”, he’s actually sexualizing young girls. Too bad he and those who are promoting (and no doubt buying) this toy don’t see that.

      Thanks for coming by and sharing your opinion on this rather odd issue.

  • Oh no, don’t let me go there. I’m sorry, when did we take away the imagination. Why does a toddler need a doll that does that? They don’t! Period. Get it off the shelves. Get our children back to being children. What’s the purpose? Show me one doll that needs breast milk to stay alive…or pee for that matter. I want my grandkids to experience childhood.

    • Exactly, Doree. Our children’s imagination needs to be encouraged. They need to imagine all sorts of things – for themselves and for their futures. I can’t help think a toy like this narrows their view of that future. Between the toys they’re expected to play with and schoolwork they’re expected to complete, they’re pushed out of childhood before they have a chance to explore it. Very sad. It’s up to us as parents and grandparents to slow things down and let our children be children.

  • I have never heard of this doll before and I could have lived with never knowing people create these sort of toys. I find it obnoxious and replusive. Let little girls pretend without so much reality.

  • I happened to breastfeed my first child (never in public). Your post reminds me of my four-year-old niece four who entered a bedroom where I was nursing my daughter. She decided to “nurse” her baby doll, too. She couldn’t see what I was doing since I had a blanket covering my daughter and me, so she copied what she saw. I didn’t comment on it or encourage it. It just happened.

    That a company would promote a child’s attention to such detailed adult functions is inappropriate, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t have a child at doll-age, but if I did, I wouldn’t buy it. Crazy!

    • Several of my friends breastfeed in public – some modestly and some comfortably obvious. I love that they are permitted to make their own choices regarding their bodies and their children. This… holy cow. I agree with you. It is inappropriate and if I had a young child, I would not buy it either.

  • Well, on one hand, look at shows like MTV’s 16 and Pregnant. I guess the toy manufacturers figure they’ll be mommies sooner or later. And what an interesting way to make breast feeding “just what mommies do.”

    Not quite the same topic, but I had a pal who (about a decade ago) decided not to circumcise her baby boy. Not arguing for or against here; just telling a story. My pal really had a hard time at the hospital because male male circumcision, at that time, was “just what you do.”

    Societal pressure to march in lockstep and the way it is perpetuated is very, very interesting.

    On the other hand, I question the appropriateness of this as a toy for kids. No, there’s nothing sexual about breast feeding…but this toy is weird.

    • So true, Catie. Societal pressure is a hard thing to ignore. It bothers me how one group ‘chooses’ what another group should or shouldn’t do as it relates to personal issues. But this doll… I can only hope enough parents refuse to buy it that it forces the manufacturer to come up with a less controversial and more playful toy.

  • Our society makes breast feeding controversial. If there was no controversy, this doll would be no big deal. But there is, and kids should be left out of it. Can’t they just go build a fort? Sheesh!

    • That’s just it, they’re dragging children into the controversy… and into adulthood before they’ve had a chance to enjoy their childhood. Very sad. And manipulative.

      I see a theme with everyone’s recent blog post – Harry Potter. I’m going to visit yours now, too. 🙂

  • Hmm, I’ve known about these for a long time now. I also think it’s inappropriate but it’s not the worst thing they could do… after all the kids know about breast-feeding. It’s not like they’re making porn dolls (huh? I did not say that..).

    But yes, I think they should better target the present mothers with this issue. Although if you think about it, things we learn at that young age stick for longer… See, I am a walking controversy. I always see both sides. Though in this case, I choose to side with you guys and ask the government to think of less disturbing ways to advertise.

    • You’re a walking controversy. lol. Love that. 🙂

      I guess what bothers me is how an outside individual – a TOY manufacturer – feels they have the right to ‘teach’ the children of others by forming fake breasts/nipples for young children to wear while saying this doll lets “little girls share in the wonder and magic of motherhood.” The wonder and magic of motherhood at age 5?

      I also feel like it implies THIS is what our daughters should aspire to – being wives and mothers. I would rather encourage my child to be the individual she chooses to be – doctor, pilot, engineer, etc – before she settles down and starts a family… IF she even decides to settle down and start a family.

      Thanks so much for stopping by! I’m going to visit you Fairy Tales and Beedle the Bard post now. 🙂

  • Wow! Well, it’s not as bad as the stripper doll they came out with a little while back. But, I suppose the stripper doll goes into the perverted column where this doll goes into the inappropriate column. Still… it make you wonder what the hell people are thinking these days. Oops, sorry for that word. It slipped out.

    • Which word, Orlando? “Hell” or “thinking” because in this case, I believe “thinking” is the bad word since, IMO, this company failed to do any. It’s highly inappropriate, I agree. It sexualizes young girls while attempting to ‘show them their place’ at a very impressionable age. Very sad.

      Thanks so much for stopping by.

  • This is bit over the top, IMO. Where does it end? And I agree with Deborah, it’s sending mixed messages to little girls about what they can do with their lives.

    As for the whole breastfeeding in public thing. I’m not a fan. Sometimes it has to be done, but I’ve seen women who don’t care about modesty and don’t have any of the shawls or wraps. That’s a bit much.

    And it’s bull the hospitals are blocking formula. Yes, breast milk is best, but breast feeding just doesn’t work for everyone. I tried and couldn’t produce enough milk to keep my daughter full. New moms have so much to worry about, and sometimes the push for breast feeding can make them feel like unnecessary failures.

    • Wow, Stacy, you summed it up perfectly. And your experience is just what I referred to in my post when I said it is setting girls “up for failure if they happen to grow into adults who cannot or choose not to breastfeed.”

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience and your thoughts.

  • I have no words for this doll. I’m all for women doing what they think is best for their babies. I don’t even have a problem with public nursing, if we’re dealing with an infant and it’s modest, but this doll is not okay.

    As someone said above, it’s weird.

    • Agreed. But, my concern is if they advertise this weird concept “right”, children will beg to own the doll, and parents or grandparents will feel obliged to buy it.

  • This doll is ludicrous at best, a strike against the female gender at worst. As you stated, Debbie, I would rather my daughter learn to be an individual. Motherhood is wonderful but it’s not the only choice.

    Like Stacy I had a problem breast feeding also. Add that to some post partum depression and you’ve got an unhappy mommy. We don’t need to set up our daughters up for this.

  • I’m probably not going to be popular with my opinion about breastfeeding being a ‘choice’. I feel that breastfeeding is a part of pregnancy, an extension of it.
    I do not understand why people get so freaked about nursing in public. It’s like the era when women were ‘confined’ from the time their pregnancy showed to the time they gave birth. Breastfeeding is the most natural, most beautiful thing you can do for your child. I treasured the time I spent nursing my babies.
    As for the nursing baby doll… at first I was shocked then I started to think about it. Its perfectly acceptable to have our daughters give a baby doll a bottle but freak out about letting them explore what their body was meant to do naturally which is breastfeeding. Yes, there are some women who for whatever reason can’t nurse. I get that. What I don’t get is people saying breastfeeding is a ‘choice’ and then not allowing their daughters to explore exactly what kind of ‘choice’ they’re expected to make.

    • I see what you’re saying, Beth, but I don’t think it’s about not letting children explore the choice as much as it is about having them consider that choice before it’s an understandable option for them.

      This toy is targeted to very young children with the stated purpose of teaching them about motherhood as if motherhood is the be-all end-all to which girls should aspire. I know, any type of doll implies that, but the expressed mission of this toy manufacturer is definitely not a playful one but a sexist one. And, IMO, they’re manipulating the minds of young children.

      Just an aside about breastfeeding, I agree, it is an extension of pregnancy. But, besides the women who cannot breastfeed, some simply do not want to. Like me. It was not an option I ever entertained. That choice, of course, is what leads a big part of my indignation toward this toy. Beyond that, I also think it is vulgar to create a toy that expressly “alters” a young girl’s breasts so she can “nurse” her doll, and I think it’s inappropriate and sexist to push the ‘wonder and magic’ of motherhood in such a personal, adult way to children.

      No right or wrong here. Just opinions. Strong ones, perhaps. 🙂 But just opinions nevertheless.

      • ‘…it’s about not letting children explore the choice as much as it is about having them consider that choice before it’s an understandable option for them.’
        THIS is exactly what happens when a girl gives her doll a bottle. It tells young girls in a very subversive, marketable way that giving their baby a bottle with formula is best and also delivers the message that breastfeeding is not ‘normal’.
        Our bodies were made to breastfeed. It’s the way nature & God intended, but I’m not going to argue that point. We’ve become so weirded out about breastfeeding in this country. And I just don’t get it. Breastfeeding is NOT SEXUAL. It is not ugly, weird, or shameful.
        As for the breastfeeding doll being sexist… I don’t even know where to begin. Limiting a young girls knowledge, making her feel shameful of what her body was made to do, and not giving her the tools she needs to make responsible decisions as women and mother is sexist.
        ‘It (breastfeeding) was not an option I ever entertained. That choice, of course, is what leads a big part of my indignation toward this toy.’
        And this attitude, perpetuated by generations of doll manufacturers & formula companies is what makes it difficult for young mothers to ‘choose’ breastfeeding. It goes against everything we’ve been told was acceptable, stripping us of our rights to be supported and informed as women and mothers. There is nothing more sexist than that.
        I adore and respect you Debora, but we will have to definitely agree to disagree on this issue.

        • I feel the same way about you, Beth, and I do understand your position. And yes, we will have to agree to disagree.

          Just two issues I need to clarify –

          First, I don’t see how allowing children to ‘feed’ their dolls bottles makes them feel something is wrong with their bodies or with breastfeeding since I don’t think children consider – or should consider – breastfeeding (or pregnancy) while they pretend with their dolls.

          Second, I’m not saying breastfeeding is sexual. I’m saying what’s sexual, IMO, is basically having a child put on ‘falsies’ in order to mimic the act. They’re babies. We’re not selling toy maxi pads or tampons because that’s a grown-up issue children don’t/shouldn’t have to think about. And so, along that vein, (a) we shouldn’t force them to deal with this grown up issue the way this doll does, and (b) since only little girls not little boys can grow up to breastfeed, another layer of sexualizing them – and their futures – occurs.

        • Beth,
          I absolutely LOVED your response! When I saw the news segment, I thought it was a great idea but then I couldn’t truthfully say I’d purchase it for my 7-yr-old and wondered if I, too, was a victim of society’s stigmas. As a health professional who’s worked with nursing mothers and a lay person who’s conversed with expecting mothers who’ve made the conscious decision NOT to nurse, I don’t agree with hospitals not providing formula. It’s never a good thing to take a mother’s choice away…regardless of how uninformed it is. Chances are, this won’t be the last uninformed decision she or any of us makes. Thus the nature of life and free will.
          I am a little creeped out whenever a “toy” manufacturer uses God in their advertisement for some reason. Like church and state, the two should be separate (on paper anyway).
          Donna brought up an good point for the moms who’ve had complications with nursing and pressure on them if they fail exists too. In fact, when I couldn’t nurse my 1st child because of medical complications, it devastated me @ 20 yrs old. Luckily, I made up for it with my other 2 for their 1st few months or so 🙂
          Whether we like it or not, there has been a subliminal message of repulsion with breastfeeding publicly or otherwise and it has subconciously manifested itself in the “choices” women make. It has also manifested itself in the strong reactions to the topic and this toy. Tragic.

          • Thanks for coming by and commenting! Of course, I completely disagree with your assertion that a mother who chooses not to breastfeed has made an uninformed decision, but I do agree that hospitals should provide options.

            Beyond that, there’s a clear misunderstanding of the anger against this toy. That anger and revulsion is not caused by the idea of breastfeeding but by the manufacturer’s focus on the breasts of little girls. A little girl with a doll suckling at her manufactured nipples is what’s repulsive.

            There’s nothing wrong with a child watching mommy breastfeed, if that’s what mommy chooses to do. But there’s nothing wrong with them seeing her feed with a bottle either. After all, when parents let older siblings feed the new baby in the house, they give the older siblings a bottle to hold, not mommy’s breast.

            IMO, children should be allowed to be children without the added responsibilities of adulthood. The way a family handles specific issues and ideas determines how the child will address those issues in the future.

            Breastfeeding, like religion and politics, sets people off because there are some who refuse to see the value of the bottle while others refuse to consider the value of the breast. It is what it is and this doll won’t close the gap in opinions. It will, I think, only polarize further while putting children smack in the middle. I see that as unfair. But that’s me.

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