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Thoughty Thursday: Do “Breastfeeding Baby Dolls” Suck?

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Snuggle up to the milk bar! (copr esagirl via Flickr)

Now from time to time my writing certainly scores pretty dang high on the suck-icity meter, but today’s blog may just send you into the screaming into the OH-MY-GOLLY-WOMPERS heebie jeebies. We’ve had “nursing” baby dolls for kids for years, of course. I’m old enough to remember the “Betsy Wetsie” doll Grandma wrapped up for me one Christmas.

Aside: After having two sons, Grandma was delighted to have me to dress up in frills and spoil with dolls. Sad for her, I hated playing with dolls and even as a youngster, preferred stuffed animals when the real thing wasn’t around. That said, I inherited Grandma’s taste in bling!

Back to the subject at hand–I was delighted some year’s ago to discover the Snuggle Pets when I lectured at Tufts Animal Expo and I still have the Snuggle Kittie. There’s still a Snuggle Puppy available, but at the time the company even offered Snuggle Ferrets and bunnies and parrots. These plush toys include a battery powered heartbeat, heat element, and pocket for a nurser and serve as surrogate mom-objects to very young kittens and puppies. The idea isn’t new. Orphaned critters often “adopt” stuffed toys. Heck, the Magical-Dawg still uses his “bears” as doggy pacifiers (yuck! soggy misshapen heads on the things…)

As someone who adored playing make-believe with stuffed animals as a kid–hey, I had a flying cat named Snowball and a talking dog named Fluff–I can understand the appeal for children to use their imagination. And I suppose this first video might be a nice alternative to parents wanting kids to experience the fun of newborn puppies without the mess or hassle of poopy pick up or (horrors!) death. After all, a dead puppy just ain’t a fun gift. But what do you think about having a toy dog that actually NURSES the toy puppies? Check out that first video.

It sorta kinda made me go “ewww” but then I thought–people in my field constantly preach to the choir (and wish the rest would listen!) to spay/neuter, don’t breed, too many pups and kittens are born . . . so heck. Would this be a good alternative? Or should they also create a toy doggy that gives birth or a toy kitty that brings headless mice to your pillow? Hmnn.

So what sparked this deep thinking? Well, the Twitter-verse is a wondrous place, filled with amazing flotsam and jetsam and Wednesday I happened upon a Sweet Tweet with a link from CNN about a new doll for little girls. WordPress would let me embed that video so I searched YouTube and found another covering the subject. The doll comes with a little vest that allows children to mimic breast feeding.

Does that go off the scale in the OOOOK factor? Or is it a natural thing for little girls to mimic their moms and want to play-pretend this normal function? Heck, we encourage them to diaper babydolls or fill ’em full of water until they turn into leaky faucets. Is this so different? I’m asking y’all, because I only have the 4-legged kind of kids.

Great fiction writers have the ability to put in just enough reality to tell the story and create worlds of entertainment. Too much detail gets in the way. Is that what’s happening with these kinds of kid toys? Or is a six-year-old play-nursing her dolly more healthy than the kids killing zombies with transformers (or whatever the hell it takes to nullify the undead). What do you think?

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? I’m nearly ready to record a bunch of new ones, so be sure to get your requests in the comments. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

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About amyshojai

Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified animal behavior consultant, award winning author, and spokesperson to the pet industry.

9 responses »

  1. I always preferred stuffed animals too. Then again, I was also the kid who eventually wasn’t allowed to play house with the other kids because they got sick of me wanting to play the pet. LOL

    Oddly, the puppy nursing toy doesn’t bother me as much. But then, I grew up around enough animals, even without the realism I had toy puppies I would put next to the mother to let them pretend to nurse. Because I had seen it a few times, you know?

    And the diapering and bottle feeding of dolls isn’t as creepy because that’s something little girls of that age can actually HELP with, if they have a younger sibling or cousin. But nobody wants to see little Sally make the connection between the doll and the actual baby in the house, and come in the room to find her with little sib at her chest. THAT is why it gets creepy to me, because kids WILL make those connections in many cases and try to imitate.

    It’s kinda like how I was allowed to watch Wild America (which had the occasional mating scene, not that you see much of anything but still) but would never DREAM of letting a kid watch porn. I mean, yeah there was a time when kids of non-wealthy families slept in the same room as mom and dad and probably saw stuff, but that was also a time when kids didn’t get to be kids because they had to work right along witht he rest of the family. I don’t exactly consider that a shining example of an ideal time in our culture.

    But the breast feeding baby doll is one of those cases that I honestly think crosses a line. This from someone who believes kids should be protected but without being overly sheltered, who is totally for breastfeeding when there’s not a reason to go with formula (which, there are reasons… I believe there are some health conditions where it’s not recommended to breastfeed, can’t remember what they are offhand).

    Reply
    • Wow, terrific thoughty response, thanks Karyl. Not having kids myself I’m never sure if my knee-jerk (or gag reflex) reactions reflect the parental norm. *s* I thought it interesting that on the videos and other discussions I’ve read, some kids actually do hold their dollies to their chests to mimic nursing because they’ve seen their own mom nurse baby brother…but still…ooks me out.

      Reply
      • Hm, guess being the youngest I wouldn’t know about the kids who mimic nursing. Never experienced that one thus far.

        Reply
  2. Sounds to me like a Republican plot to keep women barefoot and pregnant.
    However, it could be a dose of reality, showing girls that having a baby isn’t all sweetness and light.
    The mind wobbles at society today.

    Reply
  3. Wow. I don’t mind the puppies, but I probably wouldn’t buy it for my kids.

    The doll is another matter. I object for two reasons. First, it seems it was born as a propaganda tool in the breastfeeding controversy. I always object to drawing children into either propaganda or controversy. Second, childhood is the one precious time girls have when they don’t have breasts. Breasts in our society are sexual in nature. From the time we wake up from puberty with them until the time we die, a substantial portion of the population judges us on our breasts. So much effort and angst is put into their size, shape, and function, and so many women base their self-image on them. Why on earth would we want to destroy the few years these little girls have to simply be people and not sexual beings by making them overly aware of the breasts they don’t even have yet? That will happen entirely soon enough. I would NEVER buy this doll. Let the children be children.

    Reply
  4. I don’t like dolls with bottles. Bottles have their place, but they shouldn’t be the primary symbol of a baby. Our breastfeeding rates in the US are pretty abysmal, though I think they’ve gotten better. That being said, I don’t think there needs to be anything beyond a baby doll is needed. No fake strap on breasts or nipples on dogs (couldn’t watch the videos b/c it said youtube embedding was not working or something)! My kiddos pretened to nurse their baby dolls (even my son). It was very cute. I made slings out of receiving blankets so my daughter could “be like mama” when her brother was a baby. Kids have plenty of imagination. It’s not necessary to get too realistic, but I would rather bottles were sold separately with baby toys.

    Especially funny to me was a duckling toy with a bottle. My daughter (then 6 or 7) pointed it out and asked why a duck would need a bottle even if separated from its mother because birds don’t drink milk…only mammals. ROFLOL.

    Reply
  5. Weird, the YouTube worked before. *shrug* You can still click the link and go to the direct video.

    Reply
  6. Pingback: The End is Near (and we deserve it). . . . World’s First Tickle Spa Opens in Spain « Author Piper Bayard

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