A new product from a realistic doll-making company in Spain is struggling in the US market.
“Breast Milk Baby,” the latest doll from Berjuan Toys, has earned some criticism since its American release. The doll comes with a halter top that has sensors sewn into the nipples. When the doll comes in contact with the sensors, which are covered by petal appliques, it begins to make suckling sounds. The doll burps and cries as well, but it doesn’t have to be in contact with the breast to make those sounds.
On an episode of The O’Reilly Factor last year, Bill O’Reilly said, “I just want the kids to be kids. And this kind of stuff. We don’t need this.”
Berjaun Toys’ US representative Dennis Lewis doesn’t understand why the doll is failing to get placed on mainstream shelves more than a year after its release. Lewis said:
“We’ve had a lot of support from lots of breastfeeding organizations, lots of mothers, lots of educators. There also has been a lot of blowback from people who maybe haven’t thought to think about really why the doll is there and what its purpose is. Usually they are people that either have problems with breastfeeding in general, or they see it as something sexual.”
The six dolls, which come with different facial features and skin tones, originally cost $89 each. But after having difficulty selling them to retailers, Lewis has cut the price in half on their website in time for the holidays.
The Breast Milk Baby website explains the benefits of breastfeeding for both the mother and the infant and says the doll will teach girls “the nurturing skills they’ll need to raise their own health babies.”
Lewis said, “With retailers it’s been hard, to be perfectly honest, but not so much because they’ve been against the products. It’s more they’ve been very wary of the controversy. It’s a product that you either love it or you hate it.”
Child development expert Stevanne Auerbach said the toy “had merit in dealing with new babies for the older child, and for the curiosity that children have in this area.” She also noted that breastfeeding is acceptable in Europe and that the doll has been successful there.
Author of The Complete Book of Breastfeeding Sally Wendkos Olds said, “I think it’s a very cute toy. I think it’s just crazy what Bill O’Reilly was saying that it’s sexualizing little girls. The whole point is that so many people in our society persist in sexualizing breastfeeding, where in so many other countries around the world they don’t think anything of it.”
Lewis said the doll is much less sexualized than a Barbie or Bratz doll and blamed the lack of US sales on a phobia of breastfeeding.
Do you think Lewis is correct in saying there is a “breastfeeding phobia”? Or is “Breast Milk Baby” inappropriate for children?