The modern trope of the perceived sexualisation of our children continues apace with the US launch of Bebé Glotón (‘greedy baby’), a doll that children can ‘breastfeed’ and burp. Bebé comes with a special bib for the child to wear – two flowers modestly represent the nipples – and when the sensors in the doll’s mouth come close to those in the bib, it makes suckling sounds and motions. Once fed, Bebé Glotón will cry until it is burped.
The toy, from Spanish firm Berjuan, is being launched in America this week as the Breast Milk Baby and will be unveiled at the Las Vegas Retail Merchandise trade show. A lot of people are really rather unhappy with this doll. Fox News host Bill O’Reilly has said it is inappropriate for children and his view is shared by several parenting forums, who’ve registered their disgust.
In response, Berjuan has put up an item on its website called ‘God supports the Breast Milk Baby’, citing the oft-seen image of the Virgin Mary suckling an infant Jesus Christ. So there.
The doll is entering a crowded marketplace: we already have dolls that crawl, dolls that pee and poo, and even ones that cry, giggle and creepily whisper, ‘I love you’. The toy industry has covered almost every baby function; why not have a breastfeeding doll? Children are role-playing pros anyway, adept at mimicking behaviour they see from their adults all the time. They already feed and soothe their dolls using baby bottles, so how different is it if this time, it involves a little bit of sensor technology?
The issue, of course, lies in the dual identity of breasts, at once performing a basic feeding function and yet also a sign of sexual maturity. But it’s just play. And anyway, aren’t there far more disturbing images out there to warp our children’s tiny minds?
For the retailers the real question is: would you buy your child a breastfeeding doll?