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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Breastfeeding Doll: Why all the fuss?

Recently, I was cruising through my reader, when I ran across this interesting post entitled, "Play Nursing: The Creepy Breastfeeding Doll". I have to say, I was quickly intrigued. I read....I watched....then clicked to another site, and read some more. It was the comments on this second blog that BLEW ME AWAY! Then just today, I was alerted to THIS post about it as well.

I am really going to extend myself here, and hope that I can do so without being at all offensive. I suppose I should preface this with the fact that I am VERY pro breastfeeding, but I am not ANTI bottle feeding. I am also very open to EXTENDED breastfeeding, and Sugar Bear breastfed much longer than most of you would be comfortable with. That being said, I'll present my thoughts on this doll now.

In case, you don't want to go look at the other blogs, here is the product that is causing so much controversy:

Link to it

or maybe I can embed it....

I think this doll is great. While I do not think a child NEEDS this doll anymore than they need any other doll, I do think this is wonderful to have out there as an option for breastfeeding families. As many mother's of breastfed babies know, a toddler/small child will mimic breastfeeding when they see mama breastfeeding a younger sibling. THIS is natural, normal, and likely.

There were so many comments on the previous blog posts that just blew me away. Here are a few:

"I think this is down right sick. Children are already growing up a faster rate. Many children not being allowed to be kids because they have to take on adult responsibilities before their time. Lets not forget we already have a crisis with teenage pregnancy. What are they looking for kids to be having kids. I would not let my daughter have this toy."

"Are you serious? And no I do not have any children but why would anyone purchase such a thing for a child? The child will grow up screwed up. Pasties? It will never come to the USA."

"Honestly, I think this is awful. Now let me just be clear, I think breastfeeding is wonderful and wholeheartedly encourage it, HOWEVER, it is completely inappropriate to allow a young girl to mimic it. Yes, breastfeeding is completely natural, but it is something that only adults do, not children. It would actually disgust me if I were to see a child using this “toy”."

"Children do not need to be open-minded about things like this at such a young age. They should not be thinking about having babies and nursing babies. It’s just wrong. I think this will make children more curious about having their own children… This is where teen pregnancy comes in. "


"I believe is taking breast-feeding to the wrong crowd. It is the worst idea ever. What are you guys thinking? It is not even cute. It’s disgusting! Do we really want to promote this to our little girls. What is next… Give me a break."

"i believe breast feeding should be done in the privacy of your home…childrens minds are fragile & innocent … i think they will take a different approach & make a joke out of it when having a play date or out in public. to some people this can be very uncomfortable. i do not agree with this product. i am very against it. the market is sending out bad examples to our children."

"yes its real good for a 12 year old to know about breastfeeding the next thing u know she will be pregnant………………………."

Reading these comments did not make me angry.....they made me sad. It is painfully illustrating the mindset of many Americans towards breastfeeding. I am SHOCKED that some folks think children should not know about breastfeeding. It is ridiculous to me that many feel this toy would encourage children to grow up too quickly. I don't see the difference between giving a bottle feeding or breast feeding doll to a child. I mean, Baby Alive has been all the rage, and as far as I one has been arguing that it is forcing kids to grow up too soon, or encouraging children to have sex. Breastfeeding has NOTHING to do with sex.

Later in my Sexual Abuse series, I'll be discussing how and when to talk to children about their bodies, and sex. It is a very interesting topic, and I'll only say now that children are NOT too young to learn about the human body. We should not be ashamed of our bodies. Breasts are a very important part of the human body. They make us mammals.

Other issues with the doll include the little "halter top" with the flowers. I have no problem with this. I would probably encourage my child to put the "halter top" on under her shirt, so she could better mimic actual breastfeeding. The flowers do not bug me at all. I prefer those than realistic looking nipples. The noises the baby makes are no different from other dolls, and children love them. While I do not rely on ANY toy to teach my child something, I do think that toys are a fun way to enhance learning. I do not think this doll really teaches a child how to breastfeed anymore than giving a doll a bottle really teaches them how to bottle feed a baby.

Children are much more intelligent and aware than people like to give them credit for. This doll will not make them think that children can breastfeed a baby. They understand that only mommies do that. They are just mimicking the adults to better understand their world. It helps them learn to predict what others are thinking and feeling, which in turn helps them navigate the relationships in their present life. Role playing is VITAL to children.

My child had no understanding of bottles. She does not know how to respond to her baby with a bottle. She breastfeeds her baby, and THAT is the reality in her life. She knows that she is pretending, just as she knows she is pretending to "drive" her car, or "cook" me a meal in her kitchen. Letting her "cook" in her kitchen does not make her think she is ready to cook for real, anymore than letting her "drive" her pretend car makes her think she is ready to drive a real car. Here's a great article on the subject of pretend play.

I am well aware that many of you reading this might share the beliefs of the comments I highlighted here, and I'm sorry if I have been offensive. I am just struggling to understand why our culture has significantly sexualize the breasts to the point that breastfeeding is considered an "adult topic".

I'd like to open the comments up for discussion, and hope you know me well enough to share you honest opinions. I only ask that everyone remain respectful of each other.

So tell us......what do you think about this doll?

10 Live It or Love It:

TuTu's Bliss said...

The comments on You Tube were the worste. I never realized people equate feeding an infant with a sexual act. THAT is creepy to me NOT the doll. My daughter mimcs "breastfeeding" her dolls through no encouragment from me. I never gave it a second thought. Maybe I should have here enrolled in therapy to tackle all that "traumtic" exposure to breastfeeding since birth (rolling eyes)

Autumn said...

Look at you tackling all these important topics this week!
Ok.. now I don't really find the doll creepy and I'm not really creeped out by it. But really is it necessary? Little girls have been mimicking their mommies and pretending to breastfeed their dolls long before this special doll came about. Would I buy it.. eh.. no probably not. But it surely doesn't make me angry. Jeez people if you don't like it don't buy it.. and chill the heck out. LOL

Liz said...

I appreciate your thoughtful and level response to these comments and agree that it is a tragedy that breastfeeding has become a sexual act from which we ought to shield children rather than educate. The more we try to hide things from kids, the more curious they become and the more determined they will be to educate themselves by whatever means (friends, TV, etc.). Better to talk respectfully and frankly about certain *so-called* taboo subjects and foster open dialogue with your children than find out they've learned something totally contrary to your beliefs about a subject elsewhere.

P.S. Does leaving a comment mean I'll have seven years of good luck? :0)

Corey~living and loving said...

Autumn, I totally agree. it is not necessary, and I most likely wouldn't buy it, just as I would never buy Baby Alive, because I like for Sugar to use her imagination.

I'm just glad to see that there could be a fun option for people that breastfeed, and want such a doll for their kids.

Keara @ Now I Know What Life Is All About said...

I don't see a problem with it at all. I don't know about the halter and maybe like you I would encourage a child to put it under their clothes, but I see this as no different then any other pretend play. :)

Maude Lynn said...

Little girls have always pretended to breastfeed their dolls. I don't see the big deal, here.

Tabitha Blue said...

I agree with you, Corey. I don't think I would ever buy my daughter this doll... but I believe that children that grow up in a breastfeeding house will mimic it anyway... they mimic everything else that a mama does, from swaddling to diaper changing to rocking, etc. I don't think that they need a special doll to do that. But, I don't think that pretending to breastfeed leads to sex! And it's not any different that pretending to give the baby doll a bottle or whatever else the pretend to do to take care of the baby doll. Wow, people do get a little crazy on things though don't they!! Haha.


Gayle said...

I'm trying be careful and not offend anyone, but I just don't like this. Breast-feeding is a natural and normal occurance with adult women. With a child it is not.

Everyone wants to compare that to the bottle and the diapers, etc. Well, actually, a child can feed a baby a bottle and change a diaper and burp and can a man. The only one that can breast-feed is an adult woman who has given birth.

I do not think the doll in itself will make a difference to a child who is playing with it, but if that child were playing with the doll at the park with a pervert watching...don't you think that might get him going? And if you say, your child would only play "breast feeding at home" then maybe you made my point yourself.

Really, no offense intended. I just don't think little girls need to play breast feeding no more than they need to put on a g-string and play stripper. Bottle-feeding is something a big sister can do.

Corey~living and loving said...

Thanks for taking the time to write out your thoughts on this subject. I certainly respect your opinion. :)

You are right, young children do not breastfeed. They also do not drive, cook, swordfight, and so on, but we let them pretend to do those things. A child using this doll will not be breastfeeding, they will be pretending to breastfeed.

My thoughts on the perverts, I think that there will be perverts that get off on seeing a child do anything, and I do not think pretending to breastfeed will be any more enticing. I suppose just as many perverts will think it is sexy to see a child breastfeed, as normal men will think seeing an adult woman breastfeed. I'm sure there is some, but not all.

Many folks have brought up the "anyone can bottle feed thing", and I'm still struggling to see the point, because most often when a child is playing with a doll and bottle they are pretending to be the mommy or daddy. so I suppose it is more comfortable for the adults to think they are pretending to be the big sister or something even though they are not.

The difference to me between letting a child pretend to breastfeed, and playing stripper or pretending to have sex, is the fact that breastfeeding is NOT sexual.

Again, Gayle, I appreciate your thoughts, and respect them, but wanted to clarify my thinking on the subjects you brought up. :)


Dahlia said...

I don't see why people are so upset about this. There are better things to get upset about if you're really concerned about sexualizing children (which this does not, IMO) or children growing up too fast, like all the slutty looking clothes department stores market at young girls! There is nothing about breastfeeding, IMO, that ruins children's innocence. There are much bigger threats in our culture to that, and they are already in most people's homes in the forms of various media! Would I buy this doll? No. But Will has pretended to breastfeed with his baby doll, doensn't bother me. He understands only mommies can really do it, but he still likes to pretend, and I have no issue with it.

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