Waldorf Dolls

Breast Milk Baby Doll: Delightful or Disturbing?

Have you heard about the new Breast Milk Baby doll?

It’s a toy stirring up lots of buzz and controversy. It’s been the topic of much discussion on Bella Luna Toys’ Facebook page in recent weeks, as well as on major news organizations websites, and on a number of popular parenting blogs, generating hundreds of comments.

The Breast Milk Baby doll originated in Spain as “Bebe Gloton” (yes, that translates to “glutton”). It’s a baby doll that allows little girls to pretend to breastfeed. When a child holds the doll up to the flower-shaped nipples on the enclosed “fashionable” halter-top, the doll makes realistic sucking noises and wiggles.

Berjuan Toys, maker of the doll, states on its website (which, interestingly, claims that “God supports The Breast Milk Baby“:

“The doll lets young girls express their love and affection in the most natural way possible, by simulating natural nursing.”

So, what’s not to like about a doll that seeks to promote breastfeeding as normal and natural?

Well, lots, if you ask me.

Some critics claim that it encourages the early sexualization of young girls, and that it isn’t appropriate for them to be breastfeeding dolls.

I think that it’s normal and healthy for children to imitate breastfeeding (especially if they have seen their mother nurse a younger sibling), and I have observed many children, both girls and boys, doing so over the years. But at the same time, I don’t think that a young child needs to become aware of the mechanics of breastfeeding, or conscious of the purpose of her nipples at such a young age.

I recall one sweet boy who was a student in my nursery class many years ago. This boy loved to pretend to nurse one of our Waldorf dolls, which was frequently tucked under his sweater (even while simultaneously sword fighting with a friend!). I think of how the necessity of wearing a nipple halter-top to nurse his doll might have precluded the nurturing gesture of his play.

Plus one should ask the important question, “What else can this doll do besides breastfeed?” Babies don’t always eat. The less formed a doll is, the more a child can use his or her imagination to pretend the baby is laughing, sleeping, crying, playing, and so forth.

Now, I breastfed both my children until they were nearly three-years-old and you won’t find a bigger proponent of breastfeeding anywhere.  But I don’t think that children need a special doll to normalize breastfeeding. Just give a child a beautiful baby doll.

Waldorf Dolls

She doesn’t need a nipple halter-top and real sucking noises. All she needs is her rich imagination.

What’s your opinion? Love it? Hate it? Or are you somewhere in between?

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  • Reply Maggie July 25, 2011 at 9:47 am

    I agree with you Sarah! These types of dolls go too far for my taste in ‘natural parenting’, but I have to add the same goes for those birthing dolls that people sell now. A birthing doll that imitates the ‘real’ birthing experience with umbilical cord and placenta…..
    I am sorry but certain things should be left until adolescence, there are much more important things in life a child should encounter than being part of ‘real breastfeeding or real birthing’ even if it is handmade or factory made like with the ‘Bebe Gloton’.

  • Reply Sarah Baldwin July 25, 2011 at 11:00 am

    I agree wholeheartedly, Maggie! I’ve seen the handmade birthing dolls replete with removable umbilical cord, placenta, and baby that latches on to the snaps for nipples.

    I remember a child in my class whose mother was expecting and had been given one of these dolls. One day at the snack table, she was talking excitedly about “placentas” to the other 4- and 5-year-olds at the table, who met her with blank stares.

    Even though they are hand made of natural fiber, they still present the same problem as The Breast Milk Baby, in my opinion.

    They take the profound gestures of love and nurturing associated with birth and breastfeeding and reduce them to anatomical mechanics beyond a young child’s level of understanding.

  • Reply Wendy July 25, 2011 at 11:21 am

    So, I totally understand your point, and for many households (including mine) I completely agree. However, I do think this is a useful thing for those who *don’t* see breastfeeding *anywhere*. Growing up, I knew one single person who breastfed her baby, and it was *always* done in another room with a blanket over the baby and breast. I think this sort of doll has its place in childhoods like mine, where breastfeeding needs to be seen somewhere before imagination can take hold.

    • Reply Sarah Baldwin July 25, 2011 at 11:32 am

      Well, I certainly agree with you, Wendy, that there should be no shame surrounding breastfeeding. The very best way to normalize breastfeeding for children, and indeed for society, is to nurse our babies proudly and openly in public whenever a baby needs to be fed. I also grew up without seeing many women breastfeeding their babies.

      While I do see merit in the idea behind this doll, my feeling is that children should be imitating real life, and not imitating another child pretending to nurse a mechanical baby. The solution is to make breastfeeding a more common and acceptable practice. Then girls will naturally hold their dollies to their chests to pretend to feed them.

  • Reply Daisy@Marshal Firth July 27, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    I agree with you that girls don’t need special breastfeeding dolls. It might advance their sexuality too early and won’t let them enjoy being a child. We can just give pretty and normal dolls. They will surely still be able to enhance their nurturing and caring skills with these normal dolls.

  • Reply ~ joey ~ July 31, 2011 at 12:28 am

    I totally agree with you! Why do toys have to do everything FOR the child?! Let them use their imagination!
    ~ joey ~

  • Reply Russell August 9, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Have you tried Baby GaGa – the breast milk ice cream – I hear it’s a hit – here’s the NPR link –

  • Reply CenzoLuBellsMom August 21, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Great food for thought post! When I first heard of the doll I thought, what a fantastic idea!! Great way to promote breastfeeding as a natural option etc. But, reading your post opened my eyes to the fact that wearing a halter top with flower nipples is not natural at all and does not go along with promoting a healthy idea of what breastfeeding is all about. Also, I agree with you that imagination is better than fabricated realities imposed by adults on children’s play. Thanks for the wise perspective!

  • Reply Julia@BabyCare-Supplies August 27, 2011 at 4:33 am

    This is absolutely ridiculous. Let kids be kids they just ‘got off the breast’ themselves. I believe it will raise more questions (unnecessarily) among girls and boys and promote more confusion (in both sexes).

    There is absolutely no point to this product.

    Ok that’s my two cents :)


  • Reply Karma September 3, 2011 at 11:17 am

    oh my, this is the first time i am seeing this product. it is unbelievable and i absolutly encourage it. our children now and days are not educated enough regarding breastfeeding and dont know its benefits. for those of us who do breastfeed especially in public are ridiculed and laughed at. this would be a great starting point to start to get our future generations to learn that breastfeeding is not tabu

    • Reply Debbie December 14, 2011 at 4:22 pm

      I agree that this is a wonderful idea…however I simply gave my children beautiful dolls (without any doll bottles for feeding) and my children all did what came naturally–all their dolls were breastfed including a few stuffed animals as well :-) My son breastfed his dolls too…I don’t think I would buy this toy however because my grandchildren see lots of babies being breastfed, as my children did….this would have been a wonderful toy for me as a child however because I never saw a baby being breastfed until I was pregnant with my first child!

  • Reply allexaU September 4, 2011 at 3:19 am

    I agree with Maggie, there are alot of things child could do rather than thinking about having a baby. This is a real nice toy but to think of their age they is way too early for them to know about parenting.

  • Reply Christine September 13, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    I fully agree with you Sarah. You pretty much said it all in one short article. Hopefully this will not sell. It’s just maddening to even think of buying this product and it really makes one wonder who thought of it and why and who would buy it. Someone not truly thinking and acting consciously.

  • Reply Amy Caroline September 18, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    I agree completely!

  • Reply norma shields September 9, 2012 at 11:15 am

    I think our children grow up fast enough and, yes, I did breastfeed my children. Let them play have fun and just grow
    without this doll with a nipple on the child’s dress. No need.

  • Reply Brenda Harp August 11, 2015 at 9:09 am

    I think breast feeding is beautiful. It is healthy. Children imitate what they see. People need to stop making it about sex. Breasts are not just for that. I found a photo on Facebook of a baby wrapped in a Whataburger wrapper. It appeared to be a baby photo for someone who loved Whataburger. It looks like the baby is a breakfast burrito. Nobody comments on how it looks like cannibalism. Why? Those baby dolls are what our world needs to encourage change in our world. We need to embrace love, health, and mother nature.

  • Reply Rach December 20, 2015 at 9:04 am

    I’ve had 5 children, all girls. They are fascinated with breastfeeding and I’ve never felt to hide it from them. They are acutely aware of the mechanics of it, especially as the youngest is currently obsessed with feeding from one side and playing with the other (and will throw quite a decent tantrum if she doesn’t get her own way).
    My biggest issue with the doll is actually that it’s simply not a very nice doll. And I feel like the purpose of the top is to stop little girls from lifting up their clothing and exposing their skin, which promotes the idea that there is somehow something shameful or rude about breastfeeding. I feel like this doll maybe takes the most natural, normal, healthy and maternal of activities and attempts to sterilise and industrialise it. I don’t need a fashionable top to feed and nurture my baby and neither do my daughters. All I need is a baby. My body, on it’s own without any gimmicks or gadgets, provides the rest.
    I do get the impression, though, that breastfeeding is a much more controversial issue in the US than it is here in Australia. I do find that sad, though.

  • Reply Kristi H. May 3, 2017 at 12:45 am

    I’m thrilled that a company making things for children recognizes the importance of breastfeeding as a normal and natural imitation for young children who enjoy doll play. Yes, I do agree that less specific dolls are really just nicer overall for imaginative play. How great, though, that they cared enough about encouraging breastfeeding to think about it instead of pumping out one more bottle fed dolly.

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