Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Breastfeeding Baby Doll?--I LOVE It!

Seems there's a bit of controversy about a new doll (new to the US market)--a breastfeeding doll--that allows your little girl (or boy) to pretend to breastfeed by donning a special halter top complete with flower "breasts" to which a specially made doll can "latch" (just really moves it's mouth up and down--still pretty impressive--and makes suckling noises) and stop crying by being satisfied at mama's breast. TMI? Teaching kids about function of the breast too early? Going to make girls want to get pregnant and have babies too soon, increasing the teenage birth rate even more? Fostering lesbian fantasies in little girls? (Oh, for crying out loud!!)

It seems these are some of the concerns about this new doll, from Berjuan, a Spanish toymaker. The baby is known as "Bebe Gloton," literally translated as "Glutinous Baby," really just meaning "hungry baby," and bloggers and parent critics have lots of negative things to say about it.

A few nay-sayer's comments here: or here: or perhaps here:
and even winning a spot on the "14 Worst Toys for Girls" list--

Amazing how much negativity one little hungry dolly, hungry for her mama's milk, that is, can spawn! I, for one, love the idea; I think this is an excellent way to begin exposing small children to how a baby was intended/designed to be fed, just as it's a great idea to allow small children to watch family pets give birth to their young and then nurture them at their breast, and have mom/dad explain what's going on.

No one cringes or complains that ALL baby dolls come equipped with bottles, pacifiers, and pureed baby food to be fed to them from day one (let's not even mention the disposable diapers). Do people truly rarely stop to think about what that communicates to kids--babies are fed using a bottle filled with artificial "baby milk," i.e., some cow's milk based concoction that's topped off with lots of high-fructose corn syrup and other lovely stuff? Why is it easier for us, as Americans, anyway, to shed a tear at the plight of a zoo animal that is abandoned by it's mother at birth (and that's topic for a whole different blog post) and must be raised on--oh, poor baby polar bear--artificial polar bear milk fed by a zoo keeper from a bottle. Does no one see the similarities--poor baby human, "rejected" (yikes, I don't want to ignite a firestorm, but it does make you wonder) by it's mama from her breast, forced to be fed artificial human baby milk from a bottle. (Hadn't thought about the similarities before, are humans truly experiencing the same chemical/hormonal/emotional disruption that one presumes a captive zoo animal is experiencing when it refuses to nurture it's cub at it's breast?) (And before I start offending too many people by even entertaining this line of thought, let me clarify by saying that I'm specifically thinking about those moms that choose to bottle feed ABM from day one, not those moms who try to breastfeed and encounter problem after problem and lack good breastfeeding support and end up switching to formula. Big difference, at least as far as I'm concerned). Need to ponder on that thought and research that a bit).

And another thought--why is it okay for parents to allow their 4-and 5-year-old daughters to join cheer teams and dance troupes in which they learn dance routines that teach them to shake and move their teeny bodies in a VERY provocative fashion, "shaking their booties," doing the "milk shake," and wearing skimpy shiny outfits complete with bra-tops and half-shirts, etc? I'm confused--so it's okay for my 4-year-old to learn how to use her body in a sexual fashion to attract members of the opposite sex, but it's "disgusting," "inappropriate," "weird," "gross," etc. to teach her what her breasts were REALLY designed to do? Get a grip, America, and WAKE UP to your hypocrisy!!

Sigh. Anyway. As a mom, as a breastfeeding mom of 4, as a La Leche League leader, and as an IBCLC, I applaud the attempts of this toy company to assist in exposing our children to what is a normal, healthy act of mother love. As much as I'd love to get one of these dolls for my kids, I don't know that it would provide much more positive change or educate them anymore about how babies were intended to be fed, seeing as all four of my kids have mimicked feeding their own baby dolls (and stuffed animals, and Buzz Lightyear, and Barbie, and . . . ) at their own teeny breast buds or insisted that I feed all their babies, too, at my much more well-endowed breasts. I don't think I've ever even seen my kids offer any of their lovies a sippy-cup, let alone a bottle (do we even own a bottle, other than the ones that I keep in my bag of tricks for using as demo's at breastfeeding classes to show the differences in how a baby sucks at a bottle vs. at the breast).

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this! Do you love this doll or does it make you cringe? And you can WIN one of these beautiful dolls by entering their contest!


Connie said...

LOVE IT! at first i was like "um, WHAT?" but then i looked at it and it hit me, wow, a baby doll that teaches girls the NATURAL way of things. Honestly I've never even thought about a bottle coming with baby dolls, it's just always been that way for as long as i can remember. but when looking at this, i can see my daughter doing it. i'd LOVE to see her "breastfeeding". I must admit, however, that the bra is a bit over the top lol, but they had to have the baby react somehow, and i guess they couldn't figure out a way to do it when the baby is tilted a certain way, so i'm assuming it's magnets that touch.
For kids that have younger siblings that are exclusively breastfed, they may not need it, as kids seem to mimic their parents. but for those, like my daughter, who is the youngest and may not remember the breastfeeding experience,(she only did it for a little while, for some reason i didn't make enough even after the consoltant even tried helping me) i think it's great!

Baby So Smart said...

I agree, Connie, quite a few years ago a fellow LLL leader made a comment about pacifiers/bottles always being included with baby dolls and how this could negatively impact the little girl's thoughts about normal infant feeding down the road. I had never even thought about that in the past. I think it's such a great idea to allow kids the opportunity to pretend to breastfeed and have the baby "react" or respond to mama's "breast," even if the halter thing is a bit odd, I'll agree with that too, but you're right, they needed some way to make baby "nurse." Wish I had the money for one of these, it would be kind of fun to use this doll as a teaching model in the breastfeeding classes I teach! :)

Amber said...

Love IT!! My girl's almost Never use the bottles that come with their baby dolls they pick up their babies and Nurse their babies like I did with them. I Never once told them not to use the bottles they learned by seeing me and my friends nurse our babies.

adri.evie said...

I can remember the first LLL post I saw about a woman's daughter pretending she was nursing her dolls. I thought, "ooo, weird!" This was after I had started nursing my baby, a practice I had never really thought I'd do until recently. Then I started thinking about how all dolls come with bottles and what that communicates to little girls. Especially for those of us who were raised in an environment where breastfeeding is uncommon and even considered weird, I thought bottle feeding was the only way to go. So, though there's a part of me that still thinks the doll is a little . . . weird . . . I have started to understand the importance of exposing people to breastfeeding. I couldn't imagine how much different my experience would have been if breastfeeding in public was common place (something I never felt comfortable doing and was thus tied to my house.) However, as I do not believe Barbie Dolls create body issues in girls as much as the comments and actions of their families, I feel the best way to make breastfeeding common place to children is by letting them see it happening and creating opportunities for them to be in an environments where it is accepted and encouraged. P.S. Looking back, I wish I would have sucked it up and learned how to nurse discretely in public, not just for myself but for all those trying to do what's best for their baby.