Wednesday, 14 November 2012

A breastfeeding doll - Inappropriate or just a waste of money?

Image from

Over the last few days I have seen numerous headlines in papers and online about a new breastfeeding doll available in the UK for Christmas. The Breast Milk baby doll is supossedly set to hit the UK shelves by Christmas (I say 'supposedly' as I have yet been able to find it for sale on any UK websites) and it has been grabbing quite a few headlines and provoking some severe reactions.

I've found myself commenting on and responding to quite a few 'debates' about this and am surprised to find my opinion seems to be in the minority, so I thought i'd share my thoughts here and see if I am still alone.

There has been controversy about similar products in the past and i'm pretty sure British tabloids exploded with the same outrage when this very doll was released in the US last year. But most people seem to have forgotten, so I guess they think  'why not bring up the good old breastfeeding debate and sell some newspapers?'

I keep reading that this doll is disgusting and Inappropriate and the phrase 'sexualising children' is popping up a lot too, Is breastfeeding disgusting? It's certainly not sexual! Breastfeeding is a natural act and one that I think it is important for young children to be aware of even if they don't fully understand it. 

When my daughter was born, my son Ben was three and like any other three year old was very curious and full of questions, which I was happy to answer. Inevitably he asked what his sister was doing (while she was feeding) and I explained that this was how she got nutrition so she could grow to be big enough to play with him and it was just like him having his dinner. He interpreted this into his three year old world and it became 'eating Mummy's tummy' there was no need to correct him and label it 'breastfeeding'. He soon started holding his igglepiggle toy to his chest and saying that it was 'eating his tummy' so it could grow up to be big and strong. Now my daughter is almost two she also holds her dollies to her to 'play feeding' also.

So what's so bad about this doll then? Some say it is the bib that comes with it for the child to wear that has two strategically placed flowers. I have heard these flowers be referred to as nipples, but why? If I show the image to my 5 year old he would not call them nipples, just flowers. In a child's eyes why do they have to be anything more? 

For me personally the main negative is the price. I can't see myself spending £60 on many toys for my children, especially not on a doll when I can buy a lovely rag dolly for a lot less that will engage my children's imagination without the need for batteries or a 'floral bib'. 

As I mention above both my son and daughter 'breastfeed' their toys by holding them to their chest and copying mummy. I don't feel that this 'branded' breastfeeding doll would offer any additional features that would be worth the significant extra cost. (And to be honest the 'real' looking dolls that burp or 'wee' freak me out a little, am I alone there too?)

Contrary to many mothers though, I DO like the fact that this option is on the market to compete with the various dolls available that come with bottles. It's a personal choice but I wouldn't buy a doll with a bottle for my child as I don't want to teach them that that is how babies get their nutrition. Now I am NOT saying that toy bottles should be banned and I'm sure that my daughter will probably play with them at nursery which I don't have a problem with but I think it is important to shape a child's attitude to breastfeeding from an early age. I'm not suggesting that we should turn children against bottlefeeding, when they become a parent it should be their decision to make an informed choice about how to feed their baby. But one of the main issues that breastfeeding mothers in this country come up against is the attitude of others in society, I have experienced this personally and barely a month goes buy without a controversial headline appearing involving a nursing mother being asked to stop or leave a public area. 

If we show our children from a young age that holding a baby to their chest to feed it is perfectly natural I hope that they will find it normal to see a women breastfeeding her child in public and that in their generation mums feeding their babies wont be asked to do so in a public toilet.

So No I won't be rushing out to buy this doll for £60, but nor do I believe there is anything wrong with it.


  1. Has everyone forgotten that breast milk can also be put in a bottle? I hate the fact that bottle is always seen as forumla and therefore bad. My boy had bottles, but they were all full of breast milk as I expressed exclusively!

  2. I have to admit that when I first saw it, I too was a little scandalised and got swayed by the "nipples" tag to find it a bit eeuw. Now that I've read your post I've realised that I was simply sucked into to the stereotypical argument, and remembered that GG also 'breastfed' her doll, and also gave birth to her teddy; she was simply mimicking her mother and learning about the world. So thank you for making me see the harmless side of this doll.

  3. A good point well made. I hate that just because breasts have a dual function (feeding children and people find them attractive) that people (Newspapers) automatically think sex. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I wouldn't buy the doll for £60 either, especially when as you say it's not that hard to pretend to breastfeed a doll!

  4. I think it's awful. I don't think it's disgusting, that's too strong a word, but I do think it's inappropriate for a young child. Call me a prude, call me what you like, but I don't like it and I think it's a step too far in the whole breast is best debate. Which I also don't agree with because my daughter was bottle fed with formula and is as healthy as any child.

    CJ x

  5. I would buy the doll if it was cheaper but my dd can use any doll to breastfed, shes breastfed every doll, teddy, toy in our house, shes 31 months and still feeding and im feeding her 4months old sister, so its the norm in our house, why would I then want to go and buy dolls with bottles

  6. I don't see the ahrm in the doll personally but find it very sad that eerythign breastfeeding related gets such bad press - i wrote about this doll last year here is my post:

  7. My kids used to "breastfeed" their dolls too, even my son ! Just depends what they're used to seeing I guess. I wouldn't be offended by seeing a child pretend-bottlefeeding a doll so I don't see any difference with this. I do think it is over-priced though as well as unnecessary really - any doll can be used for pretend-breastfeeding, you don't need anything specific !!

  8. I completely agree with your point of view. I wouldn't buy it as its £60 and that's 5 power rangers (sigh) or spiderman toys (heavy sigh) but I think normalising breastfeeding is a good thing.

  9. very well said! I wouldn't spend £60 on any doll, but why cannot there be a choice as in real life? Also I do not associate breastfeeding with sexual behaviour, I think some people see sex even looking at the flowers, i.e. it's all in their mind

  10. I really don't see the harm in it, my little girl is nearly two and she pretends to feed, change and breastfeed her dolls and bears. Its no different to a child pretending to bottle feed, it's all innocent behavior. Nothing sexual in the slightest and it shouldn't be discouraged. Even her little friend who is a boy pretends to breastfeed, he doesn't know the logistics or that breasts are seen in a sexual way. To him its just feeding and looking after his dolls, the same with my daughter. Having said that, there is no way that I would pay that price tag for a doll like that when they can use any doll to pretend feed with.

  11. I haven't heard much of the fuss about it except for catching some of the discussion on Jeremy Vine the other day but my first reaction was why bother to have a special doll - my girls both used to pretend to breasteed their normal dolls - they saw me doing it and they copied - simple as that. I also don't see what's wrong with it though and as others have said breast feeding is not sexual and shouldn't be thought of as such. It is such a shame that our society dissuades so many people from breastfeeding because of these attitudes.

  12. when I first saw this my very first thought was 'OMG!' I really couldn't believe that this is made for children to play with and pretend that they have breast!!, But then I thought about it, and every young girl imitates their mum, feeding their doll, changing it's nappy, just like a real mum would. And a lot of 'real' mum's breastfeed, so why is a child pretending to breastfeed their doll disgusting?
    Like me, my first thought was mainly about breast and thinking of them in a sexual way, but to be honest breastfeeding is nothing to do with sex, it's is completely natural and the way a nature intending women to feed their babies and keep them alive.

    So I've have done a complete 180 in about 2 minutes!! There is nothing wrong with the doll, like you said, the only thing wrong with it is the price! and you can use a normal basic doll and just pretend to feed it

  13. rightly or wrongly I dont feel this doll is appropriate.

    Now don't get me wrong i breastfed my children and i think this is a magical experience.

    However i personally feel our children grow up far too quickly.

  14. I agree with your thoughts totally, I'm amazed that anyone takes issue with it!


I love to read your comments, thank you for sharing your thoughts.