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There are some topics which will always cause opinions to fly and so last week it happened again with the launch of this product – The Breast Milk Baby.
Designed for young girls, this toy has predictably caused a storm. Girls wear an apron on which the nipples are represented by flowers and by bringing the baby up to the flowers, this triggers the mouth movement and the suckling noises.
Here are some of the recent headlines:
- The Guardian – ‘A breastfeeding doll? Yes, we should teach children it’s normal.’
- Daily Mail – ‘The £60 doll that lets girls as young as TWO ‘breastfeed’ sparks outrage amongst mums as it goes on sale for Christmas.’
- The Independent – ‘Breastfeeding dolls for little girls? They’re both creepy and sexist.’
I don’t think I would buy this doll for my girls who are four and almost three as they use their other dolls to breast and bottle feed but having a toy on the market raises some interesting points.
Normal mammalian function
Breastfeeding is a continuation of maternal nurturing, providing nourishment and adding to the bonds the mother and child began to build in the womb. At an animalistic level it means the survival of the infant mammal to ensure mother/offspring attachment which reduces the chances of maternal rejection and a vital food source. Expecting women are well aware that ‘breast is best’ and most with the right support could choose to breastfeed so why then are the breastfeeding rates in industrialised countries so low?
The NHS and many other support organisations promote breastfeeding and in some cases exclusively, but the rates of breastfeeding remain low despite the massive amount of funding and public awareness. So rather than look to today’s mothers, maybe beginning this education at an earlier generation is the right place to start. Rather than look to our own preconceived ideas – for example, that these dolls will create the early sexualisation of children – what could be more normal for a young child to mimic what she herself has experienced or sees her younger siblings experiencing. There is no creepiness, no inappropriateness, just instinct.
There is a grossly disproportionate representation of bottle feeding dolls on market. The earth won’t shift to have one doll promoting breastfeeding which parents can choose to buy and I suspect for the child, this doll will be treated like any other doll. It will be breastfed using the apron or not, and bottle fed. The really important message is that it will be loved and cared for by the child in the way that child has been loved and cared for – a reflection of your parenting.
What you do make of this doll? If JoJo stocked such an item to sell, would you buy it?
Image courtesy of http://thebreastmilkbaby.com
As a natural childbirth consultant, Sarah helps expecting women and their partners make informed choices about their pregnancy and birth. Sarah teaches Hypnobirthing, lectures about normal birth and founded Baby-Birth Limited – an international website all about pregnancy, birth and the immediate postnatal period – www.baby-birth.com