It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Toys that Play Themselves

Have you heard about The Breast Milk Baby doll yet?

When I heard about it, I snorted a bit.

Not because of that whole ridiculous “sexualizing of children” concern. I’ll write a post on that later.

Not because I have any reservations about kids, girls and boys, practicing breast-feeding. While I believe that each woman has the right to choose how to feed their infant, I give particular encouragement and practical support any and all woman I know who choose to breastfeed.

Why particular support to these women? Because getting started with breastfeeding is more complicated than bottle feeding. It just is. Moreover, these new mothers were mostly bottle-fed as babies, meaning that their mothers can’t offer practical support or advice.

In fact, too many offer discouragement, old wives tales, rumours, and just plain old bad advice. My mother-in-law, who was very supportive of me and my ways, kept offering to give my newborn baby a bottle “to give you a rest”. That’s fine when the baby’s a couple of months old, but it is NOT fine in the first month, when the milk supply is being established. She honestly thought she was being helpful, though, and it was hard to turn her down without feeling ungracious. I did turn her down, and we both thought I was being ungracious. Sigh. But the breast-feeding went REALLY WELL, thanks!!!

Thus breastfeeding mothers have a few more hurdles to overcome at the start — though once everything’s established, it is SO MUCH more convenient than bottle-feeding!

I breastfed my three children for over a year each, and I loved it. Because they saw their siblings breast-fed, my older two “nursed” their dollies. My daughter AND my son. All small children who see younger siblings being nursed will nurse their bolls. ALL of them.

One day, little Adam, then about three years old, sat on the couch with his sister’s beloved Cabbage Patch Baby (known to the children as “Baby Cabbage”) shoved under his shirt, its head nestled well into Adam’s armpit. His daddy entered the room.

“I’m feeding my baby!” Adam announced, very proud.
Dad gives a wry grin. “You’re in for a BIG disappointment, son,” was his only comment, and as children do when adults say inexplicable things, Adam ignored him. A moment or two later, he yoinked baby out, flipped it over his shoulder, burped it, and then shoved it into the other armpit. Because kids, they copy what they see.

And that’s the thing that makes me snort. Both Adam and Haley nursed their dollies. Their rag dolls, their plastic dolls. The most expensive was that Cabbage Patch baby, a Christmas gift from grandparents.

This nursing doll retails for about a hundred dollars. We need to spend a hundred dollars on a doll that will make sucking noises and burp, when a $25 rag doll will do the job just as well, without the internal mechanism? Heck, a plastic baby from the Dollar Store will do the trick. But no, we must purchase an expensive doll (complete with a very silly two-flower bra thingy) so that the doll will make the noises that any child is perfectly capable of imagining?

I’ve always been leery of toys equipped with technology to do what a child’s imagination does just as well. Spend more money on a toy which attempts to replace a child’s imagination?

So, no. I won’t be buying the Breast Milk Baby doll. Which is a shame, because I’d like to, you see. I’d like to support the company which has been so beleaguered by legions of silly, squeamish prudes who kicked up such a fuss about it. I’d like to stick it in the eye of the sex-obsessed prudes, I really would. Too bad I have all these inexpensive (some even home-made!) rag dollies which do the job just as well for so much less.

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September 29, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , ,

6 Comments »

  1. I know, I want to support the company too except, you know, it’s ridiculous. My gang here uses just about anything for a baby doll… although since I haven’t had mine yet, they play “having a baby in my tummy” all the time. It’s hilarious – roomful of little boys with dolls, stuffed animals, etc. shoved up their shirts. I fully expect that once the baby arrives and I’m nursing they will move on to that… without needing a $100 doll to do it.

    Comment by hodgepodge | September 29, 2011 | Reply

  2. Yep, my daughter ‘nursed’ her dolls, too. I’ve always been leery of dolls with technology in them, too, mainly because I don’t find them to be as cuddly as regular dolls. Dolls with voice boxes and mechanics to make them move tend to be a lot less snuggly looking.

    Comment by tuesy | September 29, 2011 | Reply

  3. I remember begging my mom for a doll that would “drink” a bottle then “wet” a diaper. I got one for Christmas and probably played with it for a few weeks. The rag doll that my mom sewed for me when I was 2? It was with me when I moved into the college dorm 🙂

    Comment by June | September 29, 2011 | Reply

  4. The Girl nurses her stuffies, because she’s very animal centric. Her human dolls don’t see much use. (She also claims that one boob has water, while the other has milk) But yes, what I thought when I saw those dolls is that they are entirely unnecessary.

    You know, there’s always that joke about kids at Christmas time, how they get a bunch of lovely toys, but all they want to play with is the box. My kids do not have that many toys for this very reason. Toys that do something can only do that one thing, and once the novelty wears off, they become boring (and then they become very expensive clutter). But a box can be ANYTHING, so it holds their attention for much longer and that’s the draw for little ones with their boundless imaginations.

    Comment by Grace Goldragon | September 29, 2011 | Reply

  5. Very good post – great points! All of my kids have nursed their dolls at some point, and none of them needed a fancy breastfeeding doll to do it. My son (5) recently asked for that doll that drinks and wets and poops. My daughter (7) astutely pointed out that we have a real baby that does that – we don’t need a doll! LOL

    Comment by Tara | September 29, 2011 | Reply

  6. Yes, I didn’t like the bra thingy because it would look stupid on a boy – and then we’re just sending the message of “feeding a baby is women’s business, son!”

    Comment by IfByYes | September 29, 2011 | Reply


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