The breastfeeding doll has been making a stir, from the news, the mom blogs, even wait wait don’t tell me, the NPR news comedy program. The whole concept pisses me off, but probably not for the reason you think.
Both of my kids were breastfed. It just wasn’t an issue in our house. They understood when their niece and nephew were breastfed, and the small grocery coop we shop at has a place set aside for moms. The thing that pisses me off about the dolls isn’t that they highlight breastfeeding, but that they take the imagination away from the child and give them a doll with a specific purpose. The doll, from what I understand, is keyed to the special halter that comes with it, and the battery operated doll will move it’s lips and make sucking noises when it comes in contact with the particular places on the top.
It amazes me that the toy makers haven’t figured out, or maybe it’s the parents that don’t understand, that a doll that doesn’t anything is a doll that does anything. My kids both had dolls, and they did all kinds of things, including being nursed. It didn’t require a special top, sometimes there wasn’t any top at all. Either of the kids would sit with the doll and hold it to their chest and say “shhhhhhh” she’s nursing. It was really cute, and didn’t need batteries, special clothing, or an $80 doll to make it work. These same dolls were babies, coworkers, friends, and a multitude of other things. Whatever their imagination came up with, these dolls filled the bill.
I have a hard time with any toy that takes the imagination out of play. I was a huge fan of Legos until they started making kits that forced kids to make a particular thing, rather than whatever they could dream up. Anyone who has seen a kid play with a cardboard box knows how creativity can grow with the simplest of toys.
A breastfeeding doll forces kids to address breastfeeding, rather than letting them discover it on their own, when they’re ready to mimic what mom did with them, or their younger siblings. Sadly, breastfeeding isn’t a natural, normal thing in a lot of American households. Parents are stuck with explaining what that lady is doing with the baby, or worse, here’s what you do with this doll.
Kids have unlimited imaginations. They can make blocks into a building, a car, a spaceship, or a million other things in their heads. Why do we keep insisting on giving them toys that make them do this or that, rather than anything? Blocks don’t need batteries, and they’re biodegradable.
Written on The iPad.