HBM writes about a doll (not sold in the U.S.) called Bebe Gloten. She’s much more articulate than I could be, so I urge you to read her original article. Anyway, this doll is electronic, not unlike many of the dolls in the U.S., and it comes with a halter for the child to wear. This halter shirt has two flowers over where the child’s nipples are, and the baby “nurses” from those flowers.
The Huffington Post made a snarky comment about said doll, basically saying girls shouldn’t play breastfeed unless they’re old enough to breastfeed and that this doll is inappropriate.
My first thought was that having a doll dedicated to being breastfed, one that sucked on FLOWERS, was kind of weird. It was the flowers that got me, I don’t know why (maybe the idea of a breastfeeding prop?). But then I realized a breastfeeding baby doll is no more weird than the baby dolls that come with bottles: that is to say, not weird at all.
Children play pretend based on what they know. It’s natural for children who observe their mothers breastfeeding to play breastfeed their “babies”, just as children who see their parents “wearing” their babies may also want to wear their dolls, or children who go grocery shopping want to have a little play cart of their own. Playing pretend is how children learn about their world. In fact, my mother told me last night how I “breastfed” all of my dolls when I was little.
I do NOT disparage women who formula feed. I do myself. But I believe that women should be afforded every opportunity to breastfeed by receiving correct information and support so that they feel the choice to breastfeed is more open to them. And it frustrates me that people would find a doll that breastfeeds to be inappropriate or sexual, because breastfeeding is neither of those. Why not encourage girls from a young age that breastfeeding is great and normal? I doubt that bottle “feeding” a doll discourages girls from breastfeeding later in life, but my hypothesis is that girls who “breastfeed” their dolls are more likely to breastfeed, or at least attempt to breastfeed, when they have their own children.
So no, I won’t have an issue if Menininho nurses dolls (it’s not just girls who play pretend, after all!).
I’ll be proud.