Created by a Spanish toy company, Berjuan, and launched in Europe in 2009 as an alternative to the traditional baby dolls that come with bottles, the doll is being advertised as “the world’s first breastfeeding baby” toy.
Designed to mimic and promote breastfeeding an actual baby, Berjuan’s interactive doll cries to signal that it is hungry. While wearing a special bib festooned with floral patches to represent nipples, the child places the doll’s mouth against a flower to signal suckling noises. After the doll is finished “feeding,” the child must pat the baby until it burps.
While the doll seems to touch on a hotly debated mommy topic of bottle-feeding vs. breastfeeding, not to mention the ever-present debate against forcing girls into gender roles, the real controversy over this toy seems to be between moms who are embracing the doll as a great teaching tool and those who are outraged that it’s taking pretend playtime to a place that is too realistic and mature for young children.
If you thought Barbie bore the brunt of angry parents, you ain’t seen nothing yet!
Back in March, Bill O’Reilly criticized the doll on his Fox News show and shortly thereafter, an “Against ‘The Breast Milk Baby’ Doll” Facebook page sprung up. It has become a sounding board for concerned parents, like the page creator, Dale Michelle. While she supports mothers’ rights to breastfeed in public, she argues the doll will confuse children at a time when they’re being taught to respect their private parts. She fears it will encourage “acceptance that ‘playing’ with their breasts, or lack thereof, is normal.”
Michelle isn’t alone in her disapproval. Many moms have chimed in on her Facebook page. Jennie Wilmot wrote, “What's next, a doll giving birth? Let your children be children, and stop making them grow up so fast.” Cassie Brown Bruce wonders, “What mother would really buy this doll for their baby girl? So wrong!” And Nichole Magnuson added, “I just wish they would think about the children and long-term psychological effects this is going to have on them.”
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