You Want to Teach My Daughter to Do What?

*****WARNING: What you are about to read is an opinionated response to the recent announcement that a breastfeeding doll will be marketed and sold in the United States. If you are uncomfortable with the topic of breastfeeding, I urge you not to read any further as I will likely offend your sensitivities. I must also warn you that I am not in favor of this idea, so if you are not open to my opinion, you might want to find another blog post. I have now issued my disclaimer.*****

So last night while the man of the house was tearing down sheet rock and exposing the attic above the living room, I was browsing the internet. And I came across an article about a new doll that will soon be available in the U.S. This doll takes the idea of being life-like to a whole new level. Apparently the doll’s owner can put on a special garment and pretend to feed the baby just like mom does.

Well, not exactly like mom does. Where her nipples would be are two flowers, and when the doll is placed next to one of the flowers, it responds to the sensors inside and begins to make suckling noises.

Really? It’s bad enough we have babies that pee and poo. Now they are going to suck milk from our children’s non-existent breasts?

One argument that seeks to justify this idea is that breastfeeding is natural. Yes, in fact, it is a biological function of the female body. The adult female body. So is childbirth. Are we going to develop a doll that simulates that next?

On another note, just because something is natural does not mean that it is easy. It took me and my oldest three weeks to get the hang of this natural and beautiful thing called breastfeeding. (Will the doll come with nipple shields?)

Another argument says that it is perfectly natural for a child to imitate what the parent does. That’s how they learn to walk and talk and do other wonderful things like eat with utensils and tie their shoes.

Now, if only imitation extended to picking up after themselves…

So is it a big deal for a little girl to pretend to breastfeed her baby? Probably not. I am told that I did this while my mother nursed my younger sister. The problem I have here is that a company has decided to capitalize on this natural tendency. Somehow commercializing an intimate moment between mother, baby, and older child just seems wrong.

Of course, when it was my daughter’s turn to imitate Mommy feeding the baby, it was a different story. I pumped for every single feeding for months. This was part of having a preemie. She began on my milk from a feeding tube and graduated to a bottle. I never could get her to transfer to the breast, and I didn’t really want to. Doing so would have meant that I couldn’t easily monitor her intake. And with a baby that started out at under 3 pounds, this was much more important than doing it the “natural” way.

You may be asking if my daughter imitated me as I hooked myself up to the breast pump. Yes, in fact, she did. She found a couple of funnels from her play kitchen and hooked herself up as well. Then, we would sit there and watch cartoons until we were done.

So will the breastfeeding doll come with a pump? Will we teach our daughters how to clean the cups and store the excess? How to soothe the inevitable sore nipples? Or is this going too far?

I would say the whole idea of a breastfeeding doll is ludicrous. Why give them something that only encourages them to act more grown-up than they are? If a little girl wants to imitate mom, I say let her. I have no problem with this. It is natural. A doll that suckles? Not so much.

And flowers for nipples? Yikes!

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9 Responses to You Want to Teach My Daughter to Do What?

  1. stace8383 says:

    It’s an interesting topic, and to be honest I’m not quite sure what to think yet. I probably wouldn’t buy such a doll for my own child… but I guess it’s no skin off my nose if other mothers want to – and lets face it, unless the child herself is interested in it, a mother isn’t likely to push it on her.

    One of Elspeth’s 2nd birthday presents was one of those dolls that you can feed, and it apparently wees and poops… I simply never mentioned that function to her, I put the fake food away somewhere, and it just functions as a normal doll. That’s what I’m more comfortable with right now, and until Elspeth is capable of asking for more and discussing it, that’s how it will remain! (Although I do sit the doll on its potty, hoping to encourage Elspeth to do the same!)

    • zomelie says:

      You make a good point that a mother is not likely to push the doll on her daughter. (And if she does, who am I to judge?)

      My oldest is 6, and I don’t generally question how she plays with her dolls. That’s her way of exploring the world she will all too soon become a part of. So, unless she starts beating them senseless, I let her play as she will. Still it’s one thing if she decides to feed her baby like a real mommy of her own volition. Someone else promoting this idea to little girls is just weird. I will have to try the doll on the potty thing, though.

      Oh, and I absolutely love your daughter’s name!

  2. anon says:

    I would be concerned if the girl then having experience with the flower nipples, tries it against her bare undeveloped breast. Or other interested kids try to suck her breasts. Or worse, an older child or adult does the same thing, opening her up to those who would molest her. Afterall, breast feeding is natural. It wouldn’t be too hard to then to have it lead to other things. (And yes, it happened.) It too young. Let them be kids. If they’re immitating their own mother, then they’re better to understand and have an open dialogue about breastfeeding’s purpose.

  3. momsomniac says:

    I saw the article and was far more bothered by the fake-nipply things than the doll. But then, I have sons. Getting my sons a doll – ANY DOLL -has a different message than getting one for a daughter.

    If one of them WANTED this doll, I’d probably roll with it, but it’s expensive, so for that reason alone, I am glad they don’t. The youngest is the ONLY one who won’t remember that feeding a baby is something Mom’s body did. And when they want to be nurturing with a “baby” (and they often do), they have, so far, been content with things they all ready have – like stuffed hippos.

    I loved your disclaimer. People get funny on the internet.

  4. lifesincethen says:

    Good Afternoon. I just came accross your blog….
    Firstly, love the disclaimer.
    Secondly, couldnt agree with it more. I dont have children yet, but i have neices and nephews and i would never encourage this to them, and wouldnt ever buy it for my own child, when i do have one.
    I think if your child copies you whilst breastfeeding, then fair enough. Its natural, who knows, maybe i copied my mum doing it as well. But to encourage a small child to grow up so dramatically is not good.
    On another note, as someone said earlier, its no skin off our noses for other mothers to buy it for their kids, but i do agree with your general feel of the blog.
    I wouldnt normally comment, but i couldnt believe what i was reading, that there was even such a thing, seems mad!
    Anyway! Thats all 🙂

  5. Fiona Hennessy says:

    I can’t agree more with the sentiments you write about here. My daughter was born naturally and on time but I needed pethidine to help with the pain. As a consequence my daughter didn’t feed from me for a week and it then took a further 4 months to get comfortable and happy with breastfeeding. I was distraught at how hard it was and constantly felt a failure. I did persevere which I am very proud of and continued to feed Esme happily for 9 months. I wonder what kind of signals this doll will send out about the ease of breastfeeding which in many cases is just not how it happens.

    • zomelie says:

      I worry about that too. When my own daughters have their children, I will certainly be honest with them about how hard it can be.

      I love your daughter’s name!

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