When my youngest child was born, my then 2-year-old daughter would watch me nurse him and then run off to grab her favorite stuffed bunny, so she could nurse it at the same time. She'd hold her stuffed animal to her little chest and rock it and coo to it, looking up from time to time to see what I was doing with her baby brother, adjusting her behavior to match mine.
She didn't need a specialized doll in order to mimic what she saw me doing. In fact, she didn't need any sort of structured plaything at all -- toy cars, soft pillows, and even her blanket got to nurse whenever the baby did. The only thing she didn't run for when she saw me picking up the baby, in fact, was her baby doll.
Which makes the newest controversial doll on the market, Spanish company Berjuan's "Bebe Gloton," all the more disconcerting. Since kids will play with whatever's on hand, do they really need a doll whose specific purpose is to promote breastfeeding?
At Boston.com's Child Caring blog, I'm also wondering about something else: With negative reactions ranging "It's promote teenage pregnancy" to "It'll encourage girls to become sexually active sooner," why are we so worried about this doll and yet so willing to buy our daughters Bratz?
I think it's the interactivity of Bebe Golon that's making some people -- myself included -- squeamish. In order to play with the doll, the child has to put on a special, sports-bra like halter top, with flowers in the nipple area. When the baby is brought to the breast, sensors in the flowers cause it to make suckling sounds and motions, and it stops crying. No need for imagination when your child is getting such detailed feedback from her doll.
Click over to read "Breastfeeding dolls: "Yay" or "No Way"? at Child Caring, and give me your two cents in the comments: Would you buy a special breastfeeding doll for your child? Or is a desire to nuture -- plus a little imagination -- all she really needs?
Updated to add: TheWeek.com has named this post one of the best opinions on the breastfeeding baby doll, Bebe Gloton. Click here to read their roundup!