When I first heard about this doll, I wasn’t sure what to think. On the one hand: I’m definitely pro-breastfeeding, this doll does emphasize that nursing is about nourishment, not sexuality, and there are tons of dolls out there that come with bottles, so what's the difference? On the other hand: When I was nursing my youngest child, my then-2-year-old daughter didn't need a specialized doll in order to mimic what I was doing -- a stuffed animal and her imagination were enough.
Which makes me wonder: Why are we OK with our little kids playing with highly sexualized Barbie and Bratz dolls, but not this?
Here’s the run down, for those of you who haven’t heard or read about the doll already: Made by Spanish toy company Berjuan, “Bebe Gloton” was created in order to promote breastfeeding as healthy and natural. Right now, it's only available in Spain, but the company says it plans to market it in the U.S. next year. To play with the doll, the child wears a sports-bra like halter with two flowers over the nipple areas. When the child lifts the doll to a flower, the doll -- triggered by sensors in the flower -- moves its mouth and sounds like its nursing. (Of course there’s a video, which I found via Thingamababy, but be warned: it’s in Spanish, and you have to sit through a commercial before you can view it.)
And, in writing this, I’ve realized: It’s not the doll that makes me squirm. And it's definitely not the idea of a child pretending to breastfeed a toy that makes me squirm. It’s the halter top. It’s the idea of a little girl strapping on fake breasts so she can go take care of her doll.
That said, I'd probably be more likely to let my daughter play with this than a mall-and-makeup focused Bratz doll. But as far as dolls and breastfeeding go, I think all kids really need is a desire to nurture -- and a little imagination.
Lylah M. Alphonse is a Globe staff member and mom and stepmom to five kids. She writes about juggling career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day and blogs at Write. Edit. Repeat. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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