Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Breastfeeding Baby Doll

A few days ago, several of my fans asked me to write about boobs.  I'm fairly certain that this isn't what they meant, but this is what's happening.

This is a subject that was in the news for a little while last year, but it's back for another round.

So, there's a doll that breastfeeds.  Okay, not really.  It's a little doll with sensors on the lips that make suckling noises when placed near the nipple sensor attached to a top that the girl wears.

And people are all fired up.

We have babies that pee, babies that eat, babies that poop (and seriously, don't buy my kids that crap). We have had baby dolls with little toy bottles since the dawn of time it seems, but the second someone makes a doll that get food from where baby food is supposed to come from, everyone freaks out???

I have very strong opinions on the subject of breastfeeding.  I nursed all my kids and spent over ten straight years of my life being pregnant, actively nursing, or both.

I am a doula (and have a doula blog as well).  I help women through pregnancies and labor and delivery and the infancy of their babies.  I spend almost as much time helping establish nursing as I do helping them birth their babies.

Babies are supposed to be breastfed.  It is the only food they are built to digest, it's the only food made specifically for the needs of that child, it's the only food available on demand.  Nothing a chemistry lab conjures up will ever come close.

I can sense some of you getting huffy out there already.

Are there women who can't breastfeed?  Sure.  Approximately 2% of women cannot produce enough milk for their babies.  Yes, it's really only 2%.  Most women can produce plenty of milk just fine, given the proper support system, good information, good resources, ample time for adjusting and trusting that their bodies are capable.  Sadly, some of the pieces are missing for too many women.

Throw in maternal guilt, misinformation, maternity leaves that are too short, formula companies throwing samples at exhausted new moms, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Unfortunately, we live in a society that still has strong biases against nursing.  Many women don't have family members who have nursed to help them, since older generations fell for the formula is better ads hook, line and sinker.  The generational expertise isn't there anymore.

Boobs are sexual objects in large part in our society, not viewed as body parts that play an essential role in feeding a baby.  There is nothing sexual about nursing.  There is nothing dirty or shameful about it, yet women are urged to do it only in secret.

I am not the mother who hid in bathrooms and bought circus tents to nurse under.  I nursed in public all the time.  I nursed in the sling and no one had a clue.  I nursed in the Baby Bjorn.  I nursed in restaurants, on airplanes, in movie theaters, in crowded waiting rooms.   If you came to my house, odds are you'd see my boobs at some point.  Most people I know have seen my boobs.  Hopefully not nipple, but you get my point.

My kids obviously got used to it as well.  Both my girls would carry their babies around in slings and pretend to nurse them.

If this doll had been made when they were younger, particularly when I was still nursing their baby brother, I would have bought it.  Without hesitation.

The younger that we can teach girls that their bodies are amazing, that their breasts are sources or nourishment for babies, the better.   They will hopefully grow up with confidence in their bodies to do what they know they are designed for.  They will be stronger in their determination to try to make it work.  They will not be ashamed of body parts and the functions they are designed to do.


  1. This is a beautifully worded post - I love it! I have nursed all five of my sons - well, technically not my second son, who was born with a cleft lip and palate. I tried really hard, but he couldn't get enough suction. I pumped breast milk for him. My sons have seen me feed all of their brothers, and they know that is what Mommy's breasts are for. I have seen my sons pretend to use my breast pump and I have seen them trying to "nurse" their stuffed animals. Perfectly natural, normal and beautiful!

  2. I love this. We need to rethink how we think about boobs and how we teach our daughters to feel about their bodies. Good job, Kelly <3

  3. Here, here!! *climbing onto soapbox next to you

  4. That's a cool doll. I have to say as a mom I would much rather buy this doll for my daughter than the one that poops (sounds like a mess). I can't believe people are upset about this. If you don't like it don't buy it. That's my two cents anyway.

  5. I nursed three children for over six years. That was 20 years ago, and I would have thought that by now people would be past the stigmas of breastfeeding. Thank you for saying what I was thinking, I thought I was the only one out here.


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