I need to get something off my chest. This has to do with breasts. This has to do with breastfeeding. This has to do with with what might be a Dad's worst nightmare for the upcoming holiday season: the breastfeeding baby doll complete with nipple sensors. Yes, the breastfeeding baby doll complete with nipple sensors.
Children in the U.S. already have dolls that pretend to eat, pee and poop, so somewhere in some boardroom, toy manufacturers decided what kids REALLY need this holiday season is a doll that mimics breastfeeding, complete with suckling noises and nipple sensors.
For $89.00, you can have a girl doll or a boy doll with a variety of skin tones and styles. Each doll comes with a little harness that your child can put on -- that's where the nipple sensors are. Put the doll near the sensors and it starts to suckle and breastfeed.
So now comes the question: Is this just creepy and totally inappropriate, totally natural and wonderful, or somewhere in between? I put it up for debate on my Facebook page.
Kristine wrote: "I think it's sweet. And if it encourages one little girl to grow up and not feel the usual social stigma of breastfeeding, I'm all for it."
Marcia wrote: "Children learn to be good parents by play parenting... The dolls that breastfeed, though... kids can IMAGINE play. They do NOT need all the parts, etc.."
JP wrote: "This made me chuckle inside... I can't wait to buy one for my husband"
And my friend Jessika, who just had a beautiful baby girl a month ago, called the doll totally unrealistic unless it also comes with soreness and cracking.
My own Dadmissions gauge started on outraged and disgusted, and then just nauseating and uncomfortable... But the more I started to hear people's comments the more my gauge started to move somewhere in the middle. I'm not exactly horrified by it anymore, but I'm not exactly loving it either -- kind of like how I feel about watching The Food Network or Lifetime with the wife.
But the real focus group that counts in my house are my 7-year-old and 4-year-old daughters. So I set aside all my predetermined queasiness, all my stomach-churning angst at the doll with the nipple sensors, and asked 7-year-old Alicia what she thought of this doll. She first said, "It's weird."Then I asked her if she might want it (not that I would buy it) and she said, "maybe," so I left it at that. Then, several minutes later, she came back and said, "I've thought it over. I don't want it." So I asked her why and she said she was already annoyed with her "Baby Alive" doll, which makes all sorts of noises and delivers all sorts of bodily functions without the breastfeeding capability. It was a well thought-out answer that I didn't argue with since she picked the side I hoped she would. And in the end, I need to fess up that I never asked the 4-year-old because she would have wanted the nipple doll in a split second and I'm just not ready to go there. Next year, when they decide to make Baby Natural Stirrup Delivery, complete with all the things a doll needs to give birth, we can revisit the conversation.