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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Breastfeeding For Toddlers?

On my way to work this morning I heard my favorite morning show hosts discussing a new breastfeeding doll, which comes with a halter top that a toddler girl wears with flowers to represent where the doll would "latch on" even though there is no physical connection. The doll makes "sucking" noises as though the child were breastfeeding it.

The purpose of this doll, assumingly, is to help eliminate the "stigma" related to breastfeeding by most women. I'm guessing the designer felt that if we have young girls use this doll to pretend they are actually breastfeeding that later in life when they become mothers they'll think back to how easy it was with their doll. However, there are far more problems with the idea behind this doll than using children to promote breastfeeding.

First of all, teen pregnancy is a huge problem and it all starts with girls who are careless about becoming sexual but also girls who think they're ready to be mothers far too early. Promoting breastfeeding by having small children use this doll is not only inappropriate, but it requires something that is not always going to be built-in; parental supervision and interaction. A toy like this needs to come with the understanding that it is strictly for pretend and breastfeeding is something that adult mothers do to feed their baby. Toddlers are curious, their brains are growing rapidly and this doll could create inappropriate behavior between boy and girl toddlers.

Furthermore, there is a huge difference between this pretend breastfeeding with this doll and what mothers will go through when they choose to breastfeed their child. Some women do have an early objection to breastfeeding before they try and they would be the target audience for the idea behind this doll. However, if the nutritional benefits involved with breastfeeding are not good enough reason for a mother to try, no pretend doll could change their mind. Most nurses who promote and urge new mothers to breastfeed will even say that if you can at least do it for two weeks to get all of the good nutrients then it's better than not at all. The bottom line is that breastfeeding is something that an adult mother does, not a proper activity between a toddler and her doll.

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