Toys today are capable of many more things than when I was a kid. Some can talk, some can do somersaults and some can even wet their diapers. However, I recently heard about a new toy doll that is unusual even by today’s standards – it can be breast-fed.
The doll, Breast Milk Baby, is manufactured by a Spanish company that is planning to bring the toy over to the United States. As shown in an advertisement, the doll works by making motions and sucking noises when a sensor in its mouth gets close to a child’s shirt.
Breast Milk Baby has already generated more than $2 million in sales in Europe after its manufacturer, Berjuan Toys, released it four years ago. However, response to the toy in the United States has so far been mixed.
Some breast-feeding advocates support the doll, saying it helps teach children how to feed a baby in a natural way. Other parents are more disturbed, or even “grossed out,” by the doll.
Personally, as a father who watched his own daughter play with dolls growing up, I’m glad this kind of toy wasn’t being marketed to her back then.
While I wholeheartedly recommend the idea of breast-feeding, I worry that a toy like this may speed up maternal urges in little girls who play with it.
Pregnancy and child rearing both require maturity and understanding. That’s why we wait until children are in middle school to introduce sex education. You wouldn’t teach it to a first grader.
I believe dolls like this have the potential to confuse young girls. They may even inadvertently traumatize them. There’s no way of knowing until the girls grow older.
I want to reiterate that I am not anti-breast-feeding. In fact, I encourage mothers to do so. Among other benefits, breast-feeding can reduce childhood infections, strengthen maternal bonding and increase the child’s immune system.
However, I believe that introducing breast-feeding to girls young enough to play with dolls is inappropriate, and it may even be harmful to them in the long run.
Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. For more information on Dr. Manny's work, visit AskDrManny.com.