My Thoughts About the Berjuan Breastfeeding Doll, Bebe Gloton
A new doll known informally as the "breast milk doll" or "breastfeeding doll" designed by Spanish educational toymaker Berjuan is set to be launched soon in the United States, and it's sparking serious controversy. The doll is capable of making suckling and crying-for-milk sounds. The controversial accessory it comes with is a halter top with flowers placed strategically where the baby can suckle. The child wears the halter top to model breastfeeding.
Arguments against the doll focus on fears that the doll will instill too many premature maternal urges in little girls. Some fear that reckless pregnancies will occur. Other people think that breastfeeding is for grown-ups and it's inappropriate for kids to play at it when they're very young. The "yuck factor" objection is also raised.
My Opinion on Bebe Gloton, the Breast Milk Doll
I admit that arguments against the toy confuse me. Unless these folks disapprove of all toys in general, I'm at a loss; what about it is unusual? It seems just like any other toy, really. Except for one detail: it's got kids thinking of breasts instead of bottles as sources of food.
And if early childhood is too soon to instill maternal urges in kids, then it's surely also too soon to instill the desire to work, or clean, or protect, or cook, or be generous, or be self-sufficient or...well...to be like grown-ups. You know, the great thing is that Nature is there to regulate these things for us. If a girl is not ready to learn something, she simply won't, no matter what doll you give her.
A breastfeeding doll exposes girls and boys to something they were exposed to for millions of years. Almost as long as we've been mammals, children have been exposed to women who breastfed on a day-to-day basis - their mothers and family wet nurses. In fact, watching someone breastfeed is probably one of the most common experiences kids have. These days, it's not, but to view breastfeeding as abnormal and something kids aren't adapted to is bizarre to me.
As for kids practicing skills they are not ready to use...they do it with every other toy they have. Are they ready to give a baby a bottle? Drive? Make professional art? No, but they can model these acts with existing toys all the time.
I suspect that people's feelings about the doll, both pro and con, are more about the polarized debate between breastfeeding and formula than about real desires that people have about the welfare of kids. If you check out the reviews of the doll on Amazon.com, you'll see some pretty volatile arguments and defenses of this toy.
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