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Tipsheet

Breast-feeding Doll Causes Controversy

A doll that encourages little girls to imitate breast-feeding is now on sale in Spain. The doll package comes with a halter-top that simulates a maternity top and daisies that cover the girls' nipples. Called "Bebe Gluton," or, "Gluttenous Baby," it makes sucking noises during the simulated feeding process.
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Most dolls aimed at the little-girl-wanting-to-imitate-motherhood crowd come with a bottle, which critics say discourages healthy mother-child interaction. Breast feeding reduces infections, promotes maternal bonding and encourages a healthy immune system, and a culture of bottle-feeding is stemmed in party by the common image of a baby with a bottle. But not everyone is a fan. Dr. Manny Alvarez, managing health editor of FOXNews.com, said the doll might be a little much:
It’s like introducing sex education in the first grade instead of seventh or eighth grade. Or, it could inadvertently lead little girls to become traumatized. You never know the effects this could have until she’s older.
I'm not sure if I agree with him. Even little kids know that milk can come from mommy. Why not encourage them to see the activity as natural compared to bottle feeding, and even preferable to bottle-feeding when possible? If parents purchase the doll for more-mature children and educate them on the nature of breastfeeding and the need for privacy in the comfort of their own homes, perhaps the toy could be a bit of a resource.
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The problem is that the sales of this thing won't only come from parents that encourage such responsible usage. Most children won't be given Bebe Gluton and also be given instructions from their parents that it's not appropriate for this activity to be carried out in full view. The importance of a breastfeeding cover or private nursing area simply cannot be understood by small girls unless they're told in a sensitive, understandable manner. And the ability for even the most well-meaning of parents to do that is questionable. But perhaps they should be allowed to try.

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