Friday, November 9, 2012

Breastfeeding Doll: Do or Don't?

Today I was going to begin a series that I've been thinking about for quite a while.

Then I started reading the paper and I came across an article about The Breast Milk Baby:

Here's how it works:

(Images here.)

The AP article quotes a person as saying people "either love it or they hate it." That's not entirely true. I'm torn. (No surprise there, I tend to be indecisive anyway.)

As a breastfeeding mom, I get that there is nothing sexual about the act. I also know that we live in a society that isn't 100% OK with the act, especially in public. So now there is a doll so children can mimic the act. Hmmm. Is it raising awareness that "breast is best", or is it going too far?

Not long ago when Beau, Little Man and I were flying home from our trip north, we were at Logan airport. Little Man was getting fussy and hungry, so I sat down to feed him while Beau checked us in a few feet away. I guess I was sitting in the area where Delta customers in need of wheelchairs are asked to wait, because a porter came by to ask if we had ordered a chair. I was wearing my hooter hider (which I adore!) and the porter had no idea I was feeding Little Man until I said, "Nope, I'm just feeding the baby." He got this stricken look on his face and then proceeded to let me know there was a nursing station further down.

I had no idea Logan offered nursing stations (which in passing by looked like family bathrooms, so I'm not sure what they are actually like inside), but I didn't expect to see the horror on the man's face.

From my experiences, nursing in public makes people uncomfortable. (Did I tell you about needing to nurse Little Man at a funeral? The funeral director took me into the coffin showroom to nurse him. Yes, the coffin showroom. As in a room full of coffins. It was the most uncomfortable 30 minutes of my life. Seriously. Creepy.)

Kids are going to mimic what they see. I'm certain plenty of moms have seen their kids "breast feeding" dolls and stuffed animals when little brother or sister came along. That seems normal and developmentally appropriate. So this doll seems a natural progression, right?

Or, is the suckling and swallowing a bit too realistic and too adult?

I'm teetering on the "too much" side of the fence. (Though the "too creepy" attitude is not one I share.) If my feeding my actual baby in public makes people feel awkward, how off-putting is a doll feeding on a child's petal shaped "nipple"?

While I think breastfeeding is important, healthy, and wonderful, I'm not sure children need this level of realism for a "lesson for life" or the "magic of motherhood" as the company's video suggests.

What are your thoughts?

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