When I was a little girl I had a doll that came with a plastic bottle (that didn't really fit into the doll's mouth), a hat and blanket. I loved that doll. Now, more then ever before there are dolls that mimic real live babies. They cry, open and close their eyes, giggle, wet their diaper, suck a bottle and breastfeed. It's this last one that has spurred much debate. But why?
Some critics say the Breast Milk Baby is over-sexualizing young girls or forcing girls to grow up too quickly. Really? So what do these critics say about the American Girl Doll, where girls can visit an American Girl Doll retail store where little girls can dine with their dolls or get their dolls’ hair done from a “trained stylist” at the salon? Is that too considered growing up too fast? And don’t get me started on Barbie and Ken. My Babies (yes plural) and Ken dolls used to have makeout sessions!
Berjuan Toys, makers of the Breast Milk Baby doll, and those in support of the doll say that the Breast Milk Baby helps young girls understand natural motherhood. I agree here.
However, I personally don’t plan to spend the money to buy a “breastfeeding” doll since if Reese wanted to (when she’s older), she could pretend to breastfeed with any old doll. Although the doll I had when I was a child wasn’t a “breastfeeding baby,” I remember pretending to breastfeed. It didn’t seem sexual to me. All I knew at the time was that this is how my Mom fed my younger brother…thus, this is how babies were fed.
Jennifer just posted a blog discussing recent findings from the CDC Breastfeeding Report Card, which highlights that mothers continue to face multiple barriers to breastfeeding and that breastfeeding mothers need support.
And according to the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, it was a national goal to have at least 75% of all mothers breastfeeding for at least six months by 2011. Well, how is this going to happen if people continue to sexualize breastfeeding?
Kids are going to mimic their Mothers. If they see their mommy breastfeeding their baby brother or sister, then it’s likely they too will try it – with or without the “Breast Milk” doll. So is this considered sexualizing breastfeeding too? Nathalee shares her thoughts in a comment on an inhabitots blog post about the doll.
Whether a child is using a regular old doll or a breast milk baby doll to pretend breastfeed, I look at this as an opportunity to share the importance and value of breastfeeding. As Jennifer said, “What is so wrong about teaching girls that they can nurse with their boobs - that's why they are there - not to be on the cover or playboy magazine.”
I don’t see anything wrong with a child pretending to breastfeed and am irritated by all the fuss. I’m wondering if it’s the name “Breast Milk Baby” that folks are having a hard time with? What if they called the baby that wets their pants the “Pee doll” or the doll that poops their pants the “Poop doll?” Or is it just the fact that now there is a doll specifically focused on breastfeeding?
If you're outraged or think the breastfeeding doll is inappropriate, then just don’t buy it. Simple. Either way, what are your personal feelings on this?