A Spanish toy company that offers a breastfeeding doll complete with sucking noises (video below.) is having trouble getting the toy on U.S. store shelves.
U.S. representative for Berjuan Toys, Dennis Lewis says that the American market is so unaccepting of the doll because of the country’s own complicated feelings about breastfeeding.
“We’ve had a lot of support from lots of breastfeeding organizations, lots of mothers, lots of educators. There also has been a lot of blowback from people who maybe haven’t thought to think about really why the doll is there and what its purpose is. Usually they are people that either have problems with breastfeeding in general, or they see it as something sexual.”
Bill O’Reilly, on the other hand, thinks kids should just be kids.
Breastfeeding is not only a perfectly normal and healthy way to feed a baby human, it was also the ONLY way to do it for thousands of years. It’s a part of life, and older siblings often watch their mothers breastfeed their younger siblings, so it’s not only a natural and normal thing, it’s also something many children are familiar with.
Why then, are baby dolls fed with a bottle? Children like play-acting parenting with dolls, and are often delighted with ones that are lifelike (even to the point of having to have their diapers changed.
The doll comes in a variety of skin colors (only one skin color is available through Amazon,) and the child has to wear a vest that sets off sensors in the doll’s mouth.
Is it really that bad to have a doll mimic breastfeeding, or does really sexualize little kids? The doll has done well in Europe, where breastfeediing isn’t viewed as controversial. Sally Wendkos Olds, co-author of The Complete Book of Breastfeeding, thinks that the toy doesn’t sexualize children at all:
“I think it’s a very cute toy. I think it’s just crazy what Bill O’Reilly was saying that it’s sexualizing little girls. The whole point is that so many people in our society persist in sexualizing breastfeeding, where in so many other countries around the world they don’t think anything of it.”
Even so, girls can play-act breastfeeding with any doll. Do they really need a “breast-bibb” and sucking noises?