Breastfeeding Doll Sparks Controversy
Bebé Gloten, a new breastfeeding doll from a Spanish toy company, is stirring up a lot of controversy. Parents and experts are wondering whether the benefits of playing "breastfeeding mommy" outweigh the age-appropriateness of a doll that requires girls to wear a vest with plastic flowers that lay over their nipples and creates a sucking sound when the doll is next to the area. If you're curious, view this brief YouTube demonstration provided by the manufacturer.
"It's like introducing sex education in first grade instead of seventh or eighth grade," said Dr. Alvarez. "Or, it could inadvertently lead little girls to become traumatized. You never know the effects this could have until she's older."
Dr. Alvarez's analysis is downright silly, especially from a medical authority. One wonders just how much time the doctor spends with young children. As a breast-feeding mom of five, I can tell you that all of my kids, including my boys, have used dolls to imitate me while I breastfed. It's ridiculous to think that this kind of play could "inadvertently" traumatize them or lead to early sexual activity.
It strikes me that desexualizing breastfeeding is precisely the goal of Bebé Gloten and that the more casual and public we are about the need for babies to nurse, the more quickly our society will adopt a normal attitude toward a very normal human function.
While I think Bebé Gloten is harmless, I sympathize with those moms who say that the vest contraption is a little creepy. Both toy companies and parents are guilty of interfering in the magical, imaginative world of children and far too many toys these days are focused on instructing and entertaining, rather than sparking the creativity children naturally possess. Little girls don't really need battery-operated sucking sounds to learn the virtues of breastfeeding (witness this YouTube clip of a toddler nursing an old-fashion babydoll).They just need to see moms, aunts and grown-up friends who breastfeed.Their God-given imaginations will do the rest.
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