If you haven’t heard, a new doll (i.e. toy for girls) will be introduced to the US market this spring. Called “The Breast Milk Baby,” it was introduced in Europe in 2009 by Spanish toy company Berjuan Toys under the name “Bebe Gloton” (transliterates to Baby Glutton). The Bebe Gloton version already available at Amazon.
For some reason, I can’t embed two different ABC News videos on the same page, so here’s a link to “The View” clip. Apologies.
|An infant breastfeeding . . .
This image doesn’t bother me,
so why does the doll?
Because I was at a loss within my own mind, I began asking other people and had Admin.Jane put the question up on the “Current Research” page. I was hoping that by hearing from others, I could nail down why a (child-free) breastfeeding proponent such as myself could be so turned off by this toy.
Since I don’t have any children, I solicited input from the parents of female children. I felt it appropriate to give people who actually have a child for whom this doll is intended my attention. Luckily, I was right. While most of their opinions were strong and clear, they didn’t seem as rabid as other things I’d heard and seen. I now suspect much of the intensity of the controversy originates in people who don’t have children themselves.
What I found is that, generally, mothers seem to be more in favor of this doll than fathers. This opinion from one mother is representative of the the responses from most of the mothers:
I completely love the breastfeeding baby for little girls. I am a 54 yr old mother w/ 2 girls that are 23 and 35. When I was getting ready to have my 2nd child my step son was about 10 and when he found out I was going to breastfeed he asked, “Isn’t that illegal?” That’s when I realized just how little breastfeeding is known in our culture and unfortunately people feel more comfortable letting their little girls feed w/a bottle both in private and public. I must admit that I encountered a lot of ridicule when I breastfed my 2nd child in the hospital and the nurses were not supportive at all. They kept telling me that my baby was going to get spoiled etc etc. So I had to fight to keep him w/ me in my room in order to feed him when he was hungry and to keep them from trying to throw a bottle in his mouth. If I were not a really assertive mother I would have faltered. I think that until we normalize breastfeeding as being the standard we will find that most people will be shocked and have discomfort in the presence of the process which is sad. That is why I so strongly support this new doll in a step forward in making that a reality!
I am the mother of two daughters, ages 7 and 3. I have mixed thoughts about the doll. I don’t want to push the idea too soon about having babies. I can also see where it would be a good promoter for breastfeeding as opposed to bottle feeding. When I was 4 years old I pretended to breast feed my doll while my mom breast fed my baby sister, no harm done.
I am “Meh” about this toy. I approve of the toy in general. I think it does wonderful things about teaching that breast is best and that bottles are not necessary. However. I disapprove because I don’t care to spend 80-90 bucks on a toy that moves its mouth when my daughter can just pretend to breast feed with any other doll. I don’t like the dolls that provide imagination for a child. Children will copy whatever mother does anyway. My kid, she goes to work. My daughter is 3 almost 4 and I am a 40 year old female. BTW, my mother is a lactation consultant and I FIRMLY believe that breast is best!! Affordable healthcare starts with breastfeeding.
I disapprove of the doll because it is absolutely age-inappropriate. This doll is for mothers-to-be not for children ages 3-10 or whatever. I am all for this doll’s use for newly-about-to-be mothers so they can orient themselves or achieve a comfort level in breastfeeding prior to them having their baby. But this doll is not for little girls because it introduces a concept that is too mature for young girls. My daughter is about 9 months old.
I don’t feel it is appropriate to program little girls to believe this is how they should be when they become mothers themselves. I have a 5yr old and 18 yr old.
What I found interesting was that the most intense negative reactions came from the fathers. One yelled, “Hell no!” when I told him about it, another said, “I can see perverts buying this thing.” The most common response, by far, from the fathers was that this toy is inappropriate for the age group to whom it’s targeted. With only one exception, none of the fathers I spoke with had anything at all good to say. The one father who did have something positive to say about it was fairly strong in his approval, but his intensity was based on the need to breastfeed in general, not on this toy itself. “There is nothing wrong with breastfeeding!” he insisted, daring me to argue with him about it. So many people seem to reduce this to pro- vs. anti-breastfeeding in general, not about a toy that replicates it.
I find the gender lines on this topic striking, and that made me really pay attention to myself while I was trying to figure out why I changed from approval to disapproval (and a bit of disgust) after watching the promotional/instructional video. Trying to reconcile the academic and the emotional can be tricky, and this was no exception.
I’ll spare you the blow-by-blow of my own mental gymnastics, but I didn’t really understand the root of my own discomfort until I saw a clip of the (edited) instructional/promotional video on television. That video didn’t bother me. Then it hit me: This particular doll disturbs me because of the graphic sucking mouth and sucking sounds!
I’ve been around breastfeeding babies, and they don’t sound or look like that! Whatever soft sounds the feeding baby makes, only the mother is close enough to hear, and the baby’s mouth and lips aren’t visible in the way the doll’s are. Look at the picture above: the lips are wholly in contact with the breast, and the baby is more drinking with a gentle suction than sucking like some monster from the deep! That doll reminds me subconsciously of some nightmare monster that would eat me alive, so it’s doubly disturbing to me to see a young girl cradling it to her chest.