Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011

The Realistic Breast-Feeding Baby Doll

Weird or wonderful, The Breast Milk Baby — boringly renamed from the unfortunately titled "Bebé Glotón" (Glutton Baby) — is nothing if not good at grabbing headlines. The Spanish doll that simulates breast-feeding caught the attention of American morning shows last summer before it had made it across the ocean. Now the $89 doll is in the news again after its manufacturer, Berjuan Toys, announced that the product was being released in the U.S. market.

So far, no major retailers appear to have bitten, although parents of would-be little breast-feeders can buy it direct from the company's website or find it on eBay. The doll, which is sold with a brassiere-like harness for a child, suckles when pressed against strategically placed magnetic daisies positioned precisely where any real baby goes to nurse. Plenty of people, including women, have recoiled and squealed "gross!", but why the toy nursling is so controversial goes to the roots of Americans' squeamishness with breast-feeding in general.

After all, who complains when little girls imitate their mommies by pushing toy strollers or smearing on lipstick? Who complains, for that matter, about dolls that wet their make-believe diapers? Strange that we don't mind dolly's output but gripe about the input. Bottom line: Breast Milk Baby or not, young girls — and boys — don't really need a nursing dollie to pretend to breast-feed. Any old doll will do.