Fox News calls the new Bebe Gloton breastfeeding doll “controversial”. There is enough buzz about the story that it made the Mom Logic “Moms Are Talking About” section.
A doll that promotes breastfeeding. So far so good. The problem seems to be that the child does the breastfeeding in a daisy-nippled halter top and the doll makes sucking noises.
Well, that’s part of the problem.
The Fox health editor is worried that a breastfeeding doll will encourage children toward pregnancy. He says it’s like introducing sex education too early. Well, it hasn’t been my experience that children make these connections. Mama breastfeeds, and young child copies. What children see around them, they copy in their play. My older child was present at the birth of my younger child, and she played birth for several months after her brother was born. I wasn’t worried that she at age three would consider getting pregnant. He says this might traumatize a child (but he doesn’t mention whether baby dolls that wet their diapers or are fed with bottles have a similar traumatizing effect).
Objections get outrageous and somewhat entertaining when it becomes apparent that a lot of people in our society are really uncomfortable with breastfeeding. According to a (male) parenting columnist quoted in the Fox News story, breastfeeding is like erectile dysfunction and the humiliation of prison life. Wow! Breastfeeding is really bad. This isn’t an age-appropriateness issue for him then, because I’m sure I wouldn’t give an erectile dysfunction doll to my favorite grandpa, it’s an issue of completely inappropriate and bad icky stuff getting into our dolly product stream. I think the best way to deal with that objection is really in him dealing personally with his underlying feelings about breasts and breastfeeding.
If we can dismiss the more outrageous objections (and I’m sure I can), it comes back to whether this doll is appropriate. I’m not sure that the Fox health editor really meant to imply that children shouldn’t be exposed to breastfeeding or that breastfeeding is somehow sexual. Given the news source and likely editing to enhance controversy, I’ll give him a break. He just seems to be wondering if the toy is themed in an age-appropriate way. Maybe he’s questioning whether the action of breastfeeding (not the understanding of the existence of breastfeeding—I hope) is appropriate for a child.
As for children playing breastfeeding, I think they’ll do it if they do it and don’t need to be encouraged or discouraged. Need a pre-loaded sucking soundtrack and a daisy-nipple halter to do it? Probably not. My kids (yep, boy and girl) breastfed and birthed their various dolls and stuffed animals without encouragement or specifically manufactured dolls. Actually, they did have a beautiful Mariana doll that gave birth and breastfed, but the doll (not the child playing with the doll) did the breastfeeding. Does that make a difference to those who question the age appropriateness, I wonder?
I love the idea of toys that support breastfeeding—I love almost anything that supports breastfeeding—but I’m not sure I need this doll.
What do you think? Would you buy this doll for your child?