Recently, heated debate on a simple children’s toy has made national headlines. A baby doll called Bebe Glotten, originally from Spain and quite popular across Europe, is due to hit American shelves at the end of the summer amidst very mixed reviews. Why so much angst about a doll? Perhaps the explanation is in the name; Bebe Glotten translates to “Breastfeeding Baby Doll” – a simple title that is somehow very complicated for the American public to accept.
The doll, which makes both sucking and crying noises, comes with a halter-top from which to “nurse”. The halter has two flowers where nipples would be, which have sensors inside that signal the doll to make sucking noises when held close. Children wear the halter, feed, and nurture their baby doll, and then practice burping the “baby” after feeding it. The doll will even cry when it needs to be burped.
Since hearing about this toy, I have explained its unique characteristics to a wide variety of people. It seems that they generally latch on to very different opinions about this doll: 1. A doll that breastfeeds is inappropriate for children to play with and will encourage poor decision-making regarding sex and early parenthood; and 2. This is a harmless plaything that many young children will enjoy and could possibly foster educational conversations about breastfeeding between parents and children, as well as help to make breastfeeding a more acceptable part of our society.
For example, the infamous Sarah Palin (never one to keep her family values to herself) feels this doll is “pornographic”. Similarly, conservative news sources are determined to prove that this doll is “too much, too soon,” or something that will force the children who play with it to grow up faster than is healthy. Others - lactation consultants, pediatricians, mothers, and consumers from all walks of life agree the doll is harmless (if expensive!). Advocates for the doll express the value of normalizing breastfeeding, which the scientific community has confirmed to be an endeavor that promotes health for mother and baby. They encourage parents who are considering the Breastfeeding Baby Doll to be open with their children about the process of breastfeeding, allowing any questions or conversation that it prompts.
The overwhelming opinion of those whom I have spoken with, as well as experts who have been interviewed on the topic, is that the impact of this Breastfeeding Baby Doll will depend on the attitude parents adopt towards it. If the doll is portrayed as inappropriate, it is likely that any child who encounters the doll will also view breastfeeding as inappropriate, shameful or something that shouldn’t be displayed. If the doll is explained honestly and the practice of breastfeeding becomes an open discussion, it is likely the child will view the practice more positively.
Fox News interviewed two health practitioners in the Twin Cities about their opinion on the Breastfeeding Baby Doll – I highly recommend watching the segment (and checking out some of the other links about the doll below) – I would love to hear YOUR thoughts on this toy!