Breastfeeding doll Bebé Glotón causes a stir

There’s a new doll on the market that has many parents up in arms. It cries, it makes sounds when it eats, it burps when patted. Sounds reasonable so far, right? So what’s the big issue with this doll? Apparently the fact that instead of coming with a bottle to feed it, this baby doll comes with a nursing bra-like halter top and is, indeed, meant to be “breast-fed” by children.

Spanish toy maker Berjuan has created Bebé Glotón (which, despite the literal translation of “Baby Glutton,” is actually a term of endearment in Spanish culture), a doll specifically designed for young children to breastfeed. The doll, which is not yet available in the United States, makes suckling sounds and motions when placed on the pasty-like flowers on the halter top that represent nipples. You can see a Bebé Glotón demonstration here.

Bebé Glotón by Berjuan Credit: Berjuan.com

There have been a mix of reactions to this doll by bloggers across the ‘net. Some see it as a positive thing, helping to normalize breastfeeding and combat the ubiquitous inclusion of bottles with dolls, while others think the doll is stifling creativity and simply not necessary. Still others think a breastfeeding doll is exposing young children to too much, too soon.

Cate, a self-professed lactivist who writes at Eco Child’s Play, says she doesn’t believe that “setting aside creative, imaginative free play for an instructional doll is the best for kids. The silly doll is simply encouraging parents to buy more ‘stuff,’ and plastic stuff at that. Let your kid put her own favorite baby doll up her shirt and ‘breastfeed.’”

On the other hand, Catherine from Their Bad Mother believes, “marketing dolls as nursing dolls is necessary, I would argue, because it counters the dominance of dollies-with-bottles. Children can pretend to breastfeed any old doll, but they don’t, and they don’t, arguably, because pretty much all of those dolls come with what are more or less express instructions to bottle feed this baby, dammit.”

Beth at The Natural Mommy said when she first heard about the breastfeeding doll, she thought, “Finally!,” but the more she learned the more she thought Bebé Glotón “was a bit much.”

It includes a vest that the girl has to wear with appropriately placed flowers for the baby to nurse on. But wait a minute? Isn’t the biggest convenience of breastfeeding the lack of required materials? I mean, really, all you need is a baby that roots around and sucks on whatever you place near his mouth as soon as you hold him in a horizontal position. That’s pretty darn realistic, if you ask me. I just don’t think we’re clearing up any confusion by having little girls put on special vests to breastfeed.

Plus, without the vest, you get rid of all critics raising an eyebrow at the ‘appropriately placed flowers.’

But then the same people will be telling little girls to please use a nursing blanket or go the restroom to feed their baby dolls.

And then the baby doll nurse-ins will begin.

Touché.

Julia at Parent Dish believes there is a benefit to the doll. “Anything that encourages breast-feeding and empowers young girls to embrace the natural side of womanhood is a good thing.”

Melissa at Rock and Drool, however, is adamantly against the doll stating there is “no way in HELL” she would ever buy this doll for her daughters and goes so far as to call it “ridiculous,” “stupid,” and “moronic.” Melissa, who points out that she breastfed her three children, said, “Are you freaking kidding me? A DOLL to promote breastfeeding? In children? WHY??? I fail to see the notion of how a doll is going to promote something like breastfeeding. And I don’t understand why it’s necessary! Quite frankly, I can’t even voice why this doll disturbs me on so many levels. It does. It’s just…WRONG.”

Julie from Julie’s Health Club on the Chicago Tribune asks, “if it’s OK for children to mimic bottle feeding a baby, why shouldn’t they be encouraged to breastfeed a baby?

But in the U.S., breastfeeding is often seen as a sexual act, rather than vital nourishment. And despite the popularity of those tarty Bratz dolls, many parents are concerned that a breastfeeding doll is too much too soon. What’s next? Playing house and pretending to make the baby?”

A commenter on Julie’s Health Club reacted strongly by saying, “This is a sad, stupid, ignorant, very untasteful way to raise a child. Let a child be a child! Stop trying to fill their minds with things they should not even know about until they are of age to know. If United States lets this doll come in, we will see more children abused, sexually, and they will be led to doing things grown ups do before they are 5 years old even. America!!!!!!!!!!! Wake Up!!!!!!!!!”

Bloggers aren’t the only ones talking about Bebé Glotón. Fox News chimed in on the “controversial” doll, by linking (probably not surprisingly) breastfeeding with sex.

Dr. Manny Alvarez, managing health editor of FOXNews.com, said although he supports the idea of breast-feeding, he sees how his own daughter plays with dolls and wonders if Bebe Gloton might speed up maternal urges in the little girls who play it.

“Pregnancy has to entail maturity and understanding,” Alvarez said. “It’s like introducing sex education in 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.”

Sommer at Mama 2 Mama Tips said, “I have to wonder if Dr. Manny Alvarez is ignorant on history, does he think breasts have always been about sex and selling beer? Most likely he is projecting his ideas about sex and breasts onto children. To a child there is nothing sexual or inappropriate about pretending to breastfeed a doll. Because there is nothing sexual to young children, period. Certainly not feeding a baby doll, whether it be bottle or breast.”

As for my opinion, I believe children imitate what they see. If they see mom, auntie, or mom’s friend regularly breastfeeding a baby, chances are they at some point will try to do the same. I can’t count the number of times my daughter Ava tucked a baby doll under her shirt to “nurse” it, just like she saw her mama nursing her brother Julian. And while to my knowledge my younger son Julian has not nursed any dolls himself, he has brought me dolls, stuffed animals, Legos, etc. for me to “nurse” and I know of many little boys who have nursed their dolls. There has never been anything sexual about my kids nursing dolls nor have either of them expressed interest in having a baby of their own. I mean, c’mon, does this look sexual to you?

I think Bebé Glotón is a bit gimmicky and I am not in favor of toys that are made to perform a certain function and stifle creativity (or ones that are battery-operated). I also don’t believe having a special breastfeeding doll is necessary. However, I do think it’s good to have another option available on the market besides all of the dollies with a bottle. If a well-meaning friend or relative wanted to buy my child a doll and knew that we did not formula-feed, I’d like to think she’d have the option of buying a breastfeeding doll like Bebé Glotón. I wouldn’t seek out the doll myself for reasons already stated, but if we were to receive it as a gift, that would be fine by me. For the record, Ava saw the YouTube video of the doll and said she wants one. I’m not getting her one, but still, this doll obviously has some appeal to little girls. Julian, on the other hand, after watching it just kept imitating the doll’s burps. ;)

What do you think about Bebé Glotón?

Related posts:
From The Unnecesarean: Spanish Toy Maker Introduces World’s First Breastfeeding Doll
From Alpha Mommy: The Doll that Breastfeeds
From Feministing: Breastfeeding doll will lead to horny 5 year olds, pregnancy
From MotherLode: A Doll That Breast-feeds

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38 thoughts on “Breastfeeding doll Bebé Glotón causes a stir

  1. Pingback: Valuable Internet Information » Breastfeeding doll Bebé Glotón causes a stir

  2. I love your first blue box up there! Totally agree! I don’t have an issue with the doll- honestly my boys have always nursed their dolls or stuffed animals and they lift their shirt, showing their bare chests. They know how it works- and it’s natural. I think if we had this doll (I’m not sure I’d buy it but would consider asking for it as a gift) I’d probably do without the vest. But I’d have to really look at it to see.

    Steph

  3. i LOVE this post!
    it’s my opinion that this doll is unnecessary. but more than the doll, it’s the vest.
    i also thinks it raises the consciousness level of our daughters to a point that it doesn’t need to be. i wrote more about it in a different post.
    but thank you! you handled this beautifully and fairly.

  4. I tweeted this, but when I mentioned the doll to my husband and told him what everyone thought was “wrong” with the doll he simply said, “The only think ‘wrong’ with the doll is that it might give the impression that latching on is easy!” Of course, this come from the man who tried to nurse is little brother himself when he was a kid. :)

  5. Kids definitely mimic what they see – my older son, at 2, pretended to nurse various stuffed animals after seeing me breastfeed his brother.

    I don’t like the idea of the doll – but more for the one reason you state – I don’t like toys that are meant to do ONE THING and one thing only. If we really want a toy that makes a point – make one that suckles when laid horizontally – and let the kids decide whether they put a bottle in its mouth or a “boob”.

  6. I’m curious how many little girls have baby dolls and still have the bottle that came with it? My three little girls immediately lose every accessory that comes with the doll. Still, they’re not pretending to nurse them. I didn’t nurse long enough for them to have a lasting memory of being nursed or seeing me nurse a baby. I agree that kids imitate what they see, which is why my children’s pretend play is largely made up of pretending to cook and clean, while checking in every so often on their pretend laptops. ;-)

  7. While as a kid I wanted those dolls that had batteries and did all kinds of things but I never did get any of them. My parents did buy me a real baby carrier one year with a more life size baby. That was my favorite Christmas when I was little.

    I remember playing that I was “breast feeding.” I was raised around breast feeding so I think you are right kids will act out what they see the adults doing with real babies.

    I do have issues with the “pasties” because with all the pervs out there I wouldn’t want to see little girls with these on (even on a shirt) out in public. Plus it again is just another thing for people to think they “have to buy.” When like you pointed out, a girl around breast feeding is going to likely do the same with the doll.

  8. I loved this post. My daughter breastfeeds all her babies by lifting up her shirt and nursing her babies. I think the doll is great and I’m glad that breastfeeding is put out there instead of just the normal baby with the bottle. What I hate is adults putting adult themes on this doll – sex, boobs as sex objects, etc. This is really no different then the Coralle dolls that come with a bottle, spoon, etc and then talk or suckles. Kids love those and would probably love this too. I also don’t think this doll will raise the sexual consiousness of children, or put sex on the brain – its a doll that breastfeeds…which is FOOD for babies and toddlers.

  9. When I was little I had one doll named “Baby Dear” that I played with all the time. I’m sure I had others, but that’s the only one I remember. My mom talks about me nursing Baby Dear alongside her when she nursed my brother. I think it’s nice to have this option on the market, but like you said it’s unnecessary for most kids, they can nurse any doll.

  10. This was a very well balanced post.

    I am angered by the immediate over-reaction people have to the “sexual” nature of breastfeeding, but I agree that this doll is a creativity crusher.

    My daughter has nursed all her doll babies. When her brother was small a friend bought her a mini-boppy and mini-sling and she wandered around the house nursing dolls whenever I sat down to nurse the baby. She loved having the appropriate accessories but never seemed to miss a doll that burped and nuzzled.

  11. I think the vest is totally unnecessary. My kids nurse their dolls and bottle feed their dolls. The vest is only necessary for this doll to get the action of nursing from the mechanical doll. I get why they need the vest to make the doll work. I would not buy it, though.

  12. I totally agree with this statement:

    “I am not in favor of toys that are made to perform a certain function and stifle creativity (or ones that are battery-operated).”

    I don’t think the doll can do anything more to promote breastfeeding than the parents of the child aren’t already doing… It’s a waste.

  13. Wow, while I total love the idea of the doll and the teaching of breastfeeding, I am shocked and amazed by the comments of some of the people mentioned in the article. Especially of from the mothers who themselves breastfeed their own children but say such things as

    ““no way in HELL” she would ever buy this doll for her daughters and goes so far as to call it “ridiculous,” “stupid,” and “moronic”"

    Not sure if I can fully understand why it is okay for one to feed their own children but then not allow their children to imitate that action. Since when has breastfeeding becoming disgraceful?

  14. Thanks for the link!

    As I watch my toddler hold her teddy bears like babies and when I saw my almost four year old drop a toy turtle out of her shirt today like giving birth to a turtle baby, it is so apparent that mimicry happens regardless of whether there’s a gimmicky breastfeeding doll around or not.

    This is normal, appropriate, healthy and common behavior for children. To anyone who looks at play-nursing or play-birth as a form of early sexual development or looks at it as sexual in and of itself: Please stop looking at my kids. Look elsewhere. You have creeped me out far more than some robotic baby doll ever could.

  15. I’d totally buy this doll.. even if it was only to bug my own mom who cringes every time I nurse my 14 month old. I’d love to see her face seeing my daughter with this doll!

    Attitudes are slowly changing back to nursing being the norm.. hopefully we’ll see more of these type of dolls on the market.

  16. It’s not the doll, it’s the pasties. I don’t know exactly what it is about the vest that bugs me, but it does.

    And the cynical part of me thinks that the company that makes this doll doesn’t give a rip about promoting breastfeeding and has instead recognized a way to make more money.

    I breastfed both my kids, but I don’t need a special doll to raise BF advocates.

  17. My daughter sometimes nurses her dolls, sometimes “bottle feeds” them although neither of my kids took a bottle.

    Kids mimic and it is just trying on new roles and working out their ideas and playing and I see nothing wrong with a child mimicking nursing. It isn’t going to make a girl any more likely to rush into motherhood than having a baby doll in the first place.

    I have no problem with a doll that promotes nursing, although I don’t think it needs to be battery operated. I do think the accessories are a bit much, if only because I wouldn’t want my daughter wearing any sort of “bra” at a young age.

    I think, perhaps, I would prefer a doll that, like many dolls, comes with a little book about the baby and how to care for it. And this one says, “When my baby is hungry, I can nurse her or feed her mashed up food.” Simple, easy, no batteries required.

    The commenter on Julie’s Health Club is a bit crazy.

  18. I tend to agree with you, Amy. Each of my girls have nursed baby dolls and stuffed animals with absolutely no prompting or direction from me. As other commenters have noted, children will mimic what they see. Breastfeeding is normal and there is absolutely nothing abnormal about my girls nursing dolls and stuffed animals as a way to act out nurturing in pretend play.

    My girls also feed their babies and animals baby bottles because that is another act of feeding and nurturing they have seen in our community of friends. I don’t make a big deal out of it – I just say “babies can eat from boobies or bottles.”

    I am okay with the concept of the doll, I just agree with you that it isn’t necessary and it could, in some ways, stifle creativity. But mostly it’s unnecessary.

    The reactions to this doll, however, speak volumes to the current attitudes in our culture towards breastfeeding and sadly reflect that we (Western culture) still have a ways to go towards everyone accepting and embracing the fact that breastfeeding is normal – even and especially in pretend play.

  19. I am in agreement with you, Amy. I would not buy this doll simply because I disagree with toys that are “meant” to be played with in one and only one specific way.

    However, I do think this doll IS wholly appropriate for children. Why not?? One reason that breastfeeding is still looked upon by some as a sexual act is because toys like this one don’t exist. Toys can play an active role in normalizing a behavior in a child’s mind. Maybe if more of these critics played with breastfeeding dolls right off the bat, they would see it for what it is: a natural source of nourishment for one’s child.

  20. Pingback: THE GREEN(wald) HOUSE … (growing rosemary & raising a little wolf) :: What she said…. :: August :: 2009

  21. I am not sure the doll is needed to encourage children to be cool with breastfeeding. Role modeling accomplishes that. I am not opposed to the doll either. We just do not buy that sort of thing.

  22. i believe children should be allowed to explore and understand the natural beauty of life and not be restricted to what adults believe to be right or wrong—especially when we are talking about playtime. crunchy, i think you should get each of your kids one!

  23. I agree with Cate. I think it’s just another way for a company to get us to buy more stuff. Most kids try to breastfeed their dolls or stuffed toys – even boys. Hell, I’ve even known kids who’ve tried to breastfeed their baby siblings! lol

    In all honesty, I don’t think a doll that breastfeeds is going to “normalise” anything. Kids react to the way their parents and adult role models react to things. You don’t need a doll to tell kids that breastfeeding is perfectly fine.

  24. Last winter we were at a birthday party. All of the adults were around the table. This was the 1st time I had met my neighbors family. I look over to see my oldest pretending to nurse her friends baby doll.
    Everyone started looking over at her and not really knowing what to say. My daughter was siting there with the biggest grin on her face, her shirt lifted, baby at her nipple, and covered the babes head with her shirt. I thought it was adorable and asked her if she was being like me with her sister who was about 18 months at the time.
    She said yes and continued on.

    After that my youngest joined in and nursed her baby doll and so did my neighbors friend.

    My kids don’t understand why they see babies eating from bottles. Until recently they really thought that bottles only came with baby dolls. They are fascinated with our neighbors. They have an 8 month old and whenever he has his bottle the girls always want to know how the bottle comes to be. They used to ask why the baby was drinking from the bottle, now they want to know how it’s made and how come all babies don’t drink mommy milk.

    My girls are 4.5 and 2.yrs old.
    I would not buy this doll for them. I see where they are going with it and I applaud them for taking a step in making breastfeeding more natural to children.

    My kids use their own dolls, so we would have no need for this one.

  25. For goodness sake!! Did people get upset when the first doll with diapers came out? It’s just a natural need of a baby and children like to imitate ANYTHING a parent does. There is nothing wrong with this doll!

  26. My initial reaction was ew! Really? I get all the arguments for it. However, I’m leaning toward the “tmi for little girls” side of the fence. I think it’s the vest that puts me there.

    I breastfed my daughter, and I made that decision despite never having had a breastfeeding doll, or never watching my mom breastfeed my sister.I made that choice as an adult, when I was pregnant.

    I think this doll is “overthinking” it.

  27. the criticisms of this doll are way creepier than the doll itself.

    breastfeeding is not sexual! boobs are made to nourish babies. for the love!

    no, i wouldn’t buy this doll, but not because it’s offensive–it’s just another unnecessary plastic fantastic consumer good we don’t need.

  28. I am undecided too…. I know we wouldn’t purchase it, we have many plain old dolls who get nursed by my 4 year old daughter and 2 year old son. When they do use the bottle to feed the dolls, I just make a comment about a mommmy must have pumped milk and put mommy milk in the bottle.

    I just found your blog from ‘no time for flashcards’ and I am adding your to my following blogs…. we seem to have so much in common!

  29. BEBE GLOTON ( the breastfeeding doll) is adorable and yes your daughter will be very happy to have one and you will love it. Right now is only available on eBay and there are only a few left. It was also on sale on Amazon but the distributor in the USA only started selling on Amazon a couple of months ago and to be able to sell toys on Amazon for the Christmas season you have to have about 25 sales and he only had like 18 , so it is not available there until after Christmas but on ebay it is not problem or you can just email him at garamchai1@aol.com and pay by check, money order or pay pal. If you buy directly from him you can get it for $105 including shipping in the USA

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