Breastfeeding dolls for little girls? They're both creepy and sexist

Little girls don't need to "learn how to breastfeed" any more than little boys do. They're far too busy playing

Share
Related Topics

To add to the growing list of interactive baby dolls that are aimed at young girls, there's now a doll for them to pretend to breastfeed called 'The Breast Milk Baby'. According to the website, it helps them experience the 'magic of motherhood' (minus the colic, mastitis, reflux....) and comes with a special flowered halter top for little girls to wear that activates the doll's suckling mechanism. Bring the doll up to the flower “nipple” and its mouth moves and makes suckling sounds. Yum gulp burp!

Some have argued that the doll should be welcomed as a way of normalising and de-stigmatising breastfeeding to little girls. The theory is is if little girls pretend to breastfeed their dolls, presumably they'll be more likely to breastfeed their own child in the future, a good thing given the UK's low breastfeeding rates.

I agree that there should be no stigma around breastfeeding and mothers should be supported to try breastfeeding their child. Although I sympathise with their argument, I can't help but find the Breast Milk Baby doll a bit creepy.    

Before anyone accuses me of finding actual breastfeeding or breast milk creepy, let me quickly state that I don't. My daughter was born premature early last year and I spent two months sitting in a room in the neonatal unit alongside other mothers expressing milk, as well as expressing at home. They saw my breasts producing milk and I saw theirs. I wasn't creeped out at all. In fact, I was relieved that at least I could do something good for my daughter that couldn't be done by the nurses. Unfortunately, by the end of my daughter's stay, I was still so traumatised by the shock of her premature birth that I wasn't even producing enough milk to make a Babybel, let alone feed a baby. After many unsuccessful attempts to breastfeed, my daughter was moved on to formula. That doesn't make me an anti-breastfeeding mum or phobic about breast milk, just an honest mum who did her best during a difficult time.

What I find creepy about the Breast Milk Baby is the way it's website says "Little girls need to learn to breastfeed". Well, I think little girls need to learn to play nicely with other children, respect their elders, and how to mind their Ps and Qs. Do girls really 'need' to learn to breastfeed from the age of just two? My daughter's still pointing at squirrels and shouting 'cat!'. I'm not sure she's ready yet to learn how to get a doll to latch on correctly.

I think it's natural for children to mimic what they see and roleplay. That's all part of growing up.  I have fond childhood memories of pretending to be a Thundercat in the back garden. She-Ra, Princess of Power was my girlhood icon. Now as an adult, I role play being a journalist and shout 'For the honour of Grayskull!' when I've sent off an article. I have no problem with role play.

But specifically buy my daughter a Breast Milk Baby doll? I'd rather catch her breastfeeding her Pingu toy. At least then I'll know she's genuinely playing around through her own free will and exploring her imagination, and not because someone thinks she 'needs' to learn to breastfeed in preparation for future motherhood.

One of these Breast Milk Baby dolls is called 'Savannah Dressed for Church', for those times when your little girl has the urge to breastfeed and burp her doll during the Lord's Prayer. They don't, as yet, have a doll called 'Savannah Dressed For the Department Store Coffee Shop but Mummy Was Asked to Leave and Had to Nurse in the Toilet'. I would buy that one for myself, not just to make a political statement (I'm all for mums breastfeeding wherever and whenever they need to), but for the hours of fun I could have confusing the security guards in Debenhams.

Of course, we should keep in mind that dolls like this are never designed for 'children' but only for 'little girls'. Yes, I'm going to say it, feminist chest puffed up in outrage:  dolls are sexist! Until someone markets a doll aimed at little boys so they can experience 'the magic of fatherhood', that comes with a miniature BabyBjorn baby carrier that little Johnny can strap to his chest on his way to nursery, then I'm unlikely to change my mind on this.

 

Interested in another perspective? Read Lisa Watt's piece, 'Breastfeeding dolls for little girls? Anything which promotes breastfeeding is a great idea'

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

1st line call logger/ User access administrator

£9 Per Hour: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Warrington a...

Shine Night Walk 2014 - 'On the night' volunteer roles

Unpaid Voluntary Work : Cancer Research UK: We need motivational volunteers to...

Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable & Accounts Receivable)

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable...

Senior IT Trainer - Buckinghamshire - £250 - £350 p/d

£200 - £300 per day: Ashdown Group: IT Trainer - Marlow, Buckinghamshire - £25...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Passengers sit and enjoy a quiet train journey in a bygone age  

Why I'm shouting about the tragic demise of the quiet carriage

Simon Kelner
 

Why black cats make amazing pets, and take good selfies too

Felicity Morse
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star