I was never a big fan of dolls when I was little, but my three year old, Lena, just loves her babies. She carries them around, dresses them and sometimes even sleeps with them. While I was keen for her to have cloth nappies for her babies, (apart from anything else, they last better when being constantly taken off and put back on again) but it never occurred to me that feeding them might be an issue. That was until yesterday when she asked me for a bottle for her baby.
Now I don't want to sound like a total breastfeeding zealot her, which I suspect that I may, but I have to admit that I really wasn't keen. Both Lena and her younger sister, have been totally breastfed, my complete inability to express more than the tiniest drop of milk mean that bottles have just never figured in our feeding equation, so I was quite surprised. I hadn't really thought that she would see bottles as something that a baby wanted or needed. Until she went to daycare a few times a week, I doubt she'd even seen a baby bottle, and now she want's one for her baby. But does it matter?
I really don't care how people feed their babies, it's non-of my business, although I am keen that people get the help support and information that they need. What I don't like though, is the way that bottles are seen as the "norm" and for that reason, I'd rather that she didn't have a bottle to play with. Of course when feeding a doll, a bottle does make more sense, especially one of those magic bottles where the milk seems to disappear. Time and time again, in films and on television, you see people bottle feeding. New baby cards are often decorated with pictures of bottles, and if you were to conduct a random survey on the street and ask people to name ten baby related items, I'd guess that a bottle would feature pretty near the top. So if I can help it, I'd rather not add to that myself, and I'd rather that she didn't have a toy bottle to play with.
Having said all of that, to be honest, I'm really not keen on the "breastfeeding dolls" either, the ones with a strap on flower attachment for your child's chest, so that they can feed them. It's just a bit unnecessary, children are perfectly capable of playing at "feeding" their babies if they want without the need for strap on contraptions. I get the idea, the alternative approach to the little plastic bottle that you often see included with new dolls, but I think this is taking it a bit far. Surely the ideal is to show the natural approach. Using pretend and imagination is an important part of childhood that toy makers often forget.
So,I guess we'll see if she asks again, and make a decision then. But hopefully she won't, we don't really need more small, plastic toys to clutter the place up.