Who came up with the screwball idea for the new breastfeeding doll, which gives little girls and boys the opportunity to mimic nursing?
Answer: Berjuan Toys, LLC., a Spanish toymaker that has marketed the European version of the doll (Bebe Gloton) since 2009 and has just released an American version called The Breast Milk Baby.
The doll comes with a halter top that your child straps on. The halter has little flowers representing nipples that rest on your child's chest. The child then places the doll's mouth to one of the flowers...and the doll makes suckling noises.
The makers promote the doll as a way to teach young girls the value of breastfeeding at any early age. For me this begs a question: What's happening to childhood?
Let me first get something off my chest: I believe that if a mother is able to nurse, breast is best, and I breastfed my son. But I was 29 and 30 years old, not 6, 7, or 8.
Proponents of the doll say that little girls already can play with dolls that cry, poop and pee, just like a real baby would. There are even dolls that can be bottle fed. Why not something that represents yet another facet of motherhood?
My answer is pretty simple. Crying, pooping and peeing are all things we as human beings do from the very beginning of our lives. They are all inevitable facts of life. It is not guaranteed that a little girl will grow up to breastfeed a baby. And it is not entirely appropriate to expect that a little girl, who is far from even having breasts, can process the lesson that breastfeeding is valuable. She has many more gains in physical and mental maturity to accomplish before this can be internalized. Let me explain with some examples.
If we follow the logic the toymaker is using to promote the doll, that it prepares girls for womanhood and motherhood, then perhaps they should create an entire series teaching girls how to grow up. How about a doll that teaches girls all about the gynecologist's cold, nasty medical tools and stirrups? Or a doll teaching them how to insert a tampon? Better yet, create a doll that teaches a little girl how to put a condom on her partner, or to insert an IUD? And we most definitely need a doll that teaches a girl how to kick an overly-aggressive date in the groin.
Sound crazy? To me it doesn't sound any nuttier than paying $89 for a doll that sucks on a flower.
Good grief, kids don't even need a specialized doll to play at breastfeeding. It happens all the time, especially when there is a younger sibling still nursing. But I don't know of any parent that would take a doll and then encourage their child to play in such fashion. When it happens naturally and the child has a question, then parents answer. Why push them into it?
I do applaud the toy maker's stand that nursing is a skill that should be taught and valued in our society. But this happens anyway — and more powerfully — when a nursing mother explains to her older, curious children that they, too were fed in this manner when they were babies.
Nursing isn't something we should hide. It's something we should support and celebrate. And it should be taught by example, not by misguided immersion.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.