“Breast Milk Baby” is a doll meant to encourage little girls to learn about breastfeeding babies. And it has sparked a furore, with critics claiming it over-sexualizes small girls.

The baby doll is marketed with a little bra with fake nipples in the form of flowers. The doll makes sucking noises, which allows the manufacturer to charge a lot more for the toy, but in my view it isn’t at all necessary. As any parent can tell you, imaginative children will enthusiastically provide any and all sound effects they deem necessary to play. We own a few baby dolls that emit various bodily noises, and the incessant sound effects (even the cute ones) can grate on parental nerves in a hurry. My guess is (based on the way these toys tend to be designed) that the flower-nipples have magnets in them that trigger the sound mechanism. The bra would be necessary for no other reason; it certainly isn’t to instruct little girls where breasts are located: if they haven’t noticed them on Mom, then Barbie, Bratz and TV characters will reveal all.

I’m a bit divided on the concept of this toy: the bra part seems a little creepy to me, but otherwise I see no harm. The folks insisting that the toy over-sexualizes little girls are a bit disingenuous. They want Breast Milk Baby to be incinerated, but for some reason the western market continues to tolerate (as one reader commented online) those “slutty hooker clubbing Bratz dolls”. Couldn’t have said it any better. Few voices were raised in righteous indignation when Bratz dolls hit the market. In tolerating them society is saying: “Learn to dress and act like spoiled, obnoxious fashionistas.” But, “Imitate Mommy and her baby? Disgusting!”

One TV commenter (see video), insisted that it’s all just “too much information”. Yeah, right. If you want to go after those who are peddling “too much information”, then scrap compulsory sex-ed (now gay-friendly to boot) in Kindergarten, and oh, maybe 95% of TV shows, fashions, and other popular culture marketed to children.

We want our children to mimic normal and healthy parenting behaviour, and breastfeeding is no exception. When our family was in (repeated) newborn baby mode, my 3- to 5-year-old daughters pretended to breastfeed their baby dolls. It was no big deal, and they didn’t need a special doll to do it. They have all emerged as fairly balanced individuals.

But then, they didn’t play with Barbies or Bratz dolls…

Mariette Ulrich is a homemaker and freelance writer. She lives in western Canada with her husband and six of their seven children. Mariette holds an Honours B.A. in English Literature...