We have 2 little girls under the age of 4 and at least a dozen or so baby dolls living in our house. Some of the dolls are cute and some are actually kind of scary looking. Seriously, there are dolls out there that don’t look much less menacing than Chuckie. We have dolls that cry, crawl, giggle and eat. We have baby doll strollers, clothes, blankets, bibs and bottles. We have all the gear and my girls enjoy playing with dolls pretty much every day, especially my youngest who is 21 months old. She is really into the doll thing right now.
Until I came across this 2011 news article in the NY Times, I hadn’t given any thought as to whether feeding a doll with a bottle might be prematurely influencing my children to think that bottle feeding a baby is the proper thing to do.
By way of background, I personally chose to nurse both of my girls, but not beyond the 6 month mark. It became too much for me with my first daughter trying to pump at work at least every 3 hours and I made the decision on my own to call it quits when she was about 5 months old. I felt a bit guilty about weaning her, thinking that I should have made more of an effort to breastfeed for a while longer but deep down, I was overjoyed to have my body back to myself. My second daughter had dairy issues and I stopped breastfeeding at about 4 months based on our pediatrician’s recommendation. There was much less guilt involved but I still felt bad, like I had failed her on some level by not making milk that she could tolerate. Breastfeeding is not my favorite thing to do and there was a time before I had children when I was not sure that I would want to nurse my babies but after learning about the advantages, I decided to give it a try.
However, I should note that my babies have always been given bottles (in addition to boobies) even when they were exclusively drinking breastmilk and I am having a hard time believing that grown women will be making decisions later in life about what babies should be fed based on the fact that they had a baby doll at age 3 who drank from a bottle. Similarly, I don’t think a suckling baby doll is something that necessarily needs to be offered on toy shelves but I am by no means offended by it. I actually find it kind of funny and cute. Isn’t the fact of the matter that a little girl is going to do with her baby doll what she sees women around her do with their babies? I have a friend with a daughter who used to “nurse” her teddy bears and baby dolls and I got a kick out of hearing the stories about her daughter’s nursing play.
Have you seen this toy? It just doesn’t seem very controversial to me. Women breastfeed and it follows that little girls who see women breastfeed may pretend to nurse their baby dolls. This will be the case whether or not a breast-feeding doll is for sale so what was all the fuss about?