AVENTURA, Fla.—According to manufacturer Berjuan Toys, it's the perfect toy to "let young girls imitate mothers in a natural, caring way," but for others, it's just creepy.
It's the Breast Milk Baby Doll, which Berjuan says has been marketed very successfully all over Europe, and which is expected to be introduced to the American toy market at the ASD Trade Show at Las Vegas Convention Center beginning this week.
According to the Berjuan website, "The Breast Milk Baby simulates the breast-feeding process by including a fashionable halter-top that a young girl can put on like a vest, and when she brings the Breast Milk Baby doll’s mouth up to the pretty flower decoration on the vest, the doll makes a soft, suckling sound. The two flowers on the halter are positioned where the nipples would be and when the mouth of the doll is brought close to the embedded sensors in the flower, the baby makes motions and suckling sounds."
But the Breast Milk Baby is hardly the first controversial doll that's been marketed to the kindergarten set. Oldsters may recall back in 1975 when Mattel's "Growing Up Skipper," Barbie's younger sister, "grew tits" when its left arm was rotated, or 2002, when "Happy Family Midge," Barbie's best friend, was visibly pregnant, a condition that swiftly decreased its shelf life as more and more stores responded to customer complaints and removed it.
Still, there's been a lot of positive response to the doll from around the world.
"I love the idea of anything that promotes breast feeding and it’s exciting to see that toy companies are recognizing that not all babies need a bottle," gushed Anita Wright, a member of the La Leche breast feeding advocacy group.
"We've got another baby due in June and I think it's going to be a really neat way for our daughter, Grace, to connect with mom," said J.C. Renners as his daughter was playing with the doll on an episode of Good Morning America (GMA).
The doll, which comes in one's choice of male or female and three racial types, been available from online retailers since shortly after its European debut in 2009, at prices ranging from its MSRP of $69.99 to a high of $118, but even at the retail price, Marianne Szymanski, author of Toy Tips: A Parent's Essential Guide to Smart Toy Choices, opined that it's a pretty expensive investment for a toy that doesn't do very much.
Not to mention...
"Now that under-age sex and pregnancies are reaching shocking proportions, let's have a doll which encourages children to … get pregnant!" wrote one poster on GMA's Facebook page.
"I don't think it's sexualizing any more than a little boy standing next to his father shaving and putting on shaving cream," disagreed child psychiatrist Dr. Ned Hallowell. "The only way harm can be done with this doll is if you beat this kid over the head with the doll."