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Breastfeeding Toddler Causes Stir

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Ronda Kaysen: It's not every day that a poster hanging in a hospital children's ward generates international outcry. Especially when the poster is of a toddler breastfeeding.

breastfeeding toddler poster

But what makes this breastfeeding tot different from all the others is that she's not nestled at her mommy's breast, she's nestling her dolly at her own breast. The picture, hanging in a Manchester hospital, is coupled with the text, "It's Normal -- Children Copy Their Mothers."

The homemade poster was hung as part of a campaign for National Breastfeeding Week. And boy has it caused a stir.

To say hospital visitors were outraged would be an understatement.

"The picture is shocking and it isn't normal," Deborah Winter told a reporter when she saw the poster. "Children copy their parents but I don't think any little girls should be breastfeeding their dolls."

Blogger Hoyden About Town took the time to string together some of the less enlightened comments people made online. They called it "highly offensive," "depraved," "exploitation," and "the sort of picture that a paedophile would show a kid." Readers fretted that it condoned the "sexualizing of children" and would "poison their minds."

I beg to differ. If it is perfectly normal for a toddler to give her doll a toy bottle, it would also be normal for her to pretend to nurse her. After all, that is how breastfed babies eat. They sell toy baby bottles in the store. So, if a toddler nurses or sees her mom nursing her younger sibling, she would clearly emulate her mother.

Last time I checked, nursing a baby didn't have much to do with sex or sexuality. The toddler isn't dressed provocatively; she is merely feeding her pretend baby. But that is not how the vast majority of readers saw it.

One reader went so far as to say, "I have never seen a child mimic breastfeeding in this way. There are of course children who mimic sex acts, swear and use violence. What next, a child posing unrolling a condom."

I hate to break it to all the outraged readers out there, but nursing is not a sexual act. Nor is it a violent one. I realize that many people can't help but think about sex when they look at a woman's breast, even if there's a baby attached to it. Nursing a baby isn't a sexual act. It's a mothering act. And the little girl in the poster is merely pretending to mother and nurture, two traits that should be encouraged in small children.



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35 comments so far | Post a comment now
Judy @ MommyNewsBlog May 28, 2009, 1:43 PM

My son is 3.5 and he breastfeeds his dolls all of the time - it is only normal!

kris May 28, 2009, 2:03 PM

Why entertain these nutballs anyway. Have we as a nation become such PRUDE. I mean sexualizing breastfeeding there is nothing sexual or sexy about breastfeeding. Some people need to get off their morale high horse and get a life. Which does not include demonizing, critcizing, and insulting something simple as a child mimicking something as natural and nurturing as breastfeeding. Pedophile my arse your the pedophiles and IDIOTS for even having it in the same context let alone sentnce as someone who sexually hurts a child. At some point we as a society are going to have to step up to the plate and say enough already its fine to have an opinion but when you start questioning simple things such as breastfeeding as sexualizing of a child when they mimick it we got to say STOP mind your own damned business. And really stop dignifying these people with a response. They probably get their jollies off of that to

MarMar May 28, 2009, 3:07 PM

I couldn’t breastfeed my daughter but she’s nursed her dolls numerous times. What is the problem? I just don’t want her lifting up her shirt in public just in case there is a pedophile around. When she’s at home, though, she’s fed her dolls, she’s had her Barbies feed smaller babies, and she’s out of it as a phase now. Please. People need need to pull the sticks out of their rears.

Danika May 28, 2009, 3:09 PM

*eye roll* to some people. I think it is an adorable poster. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a toddler breastfeeding her dollies~!

MICHELLE May 28, 2009, 3:16 PM

IF YOU AROUND BREASTFEEDERS YOU GET IT. I BREASTFEAD BOTH MY BOYS & PUMPED MILK FOR MY TWO SURROGATE BABIES. I ENJOYED EVERY MOMENT. MY BOYS WERE 8& 11 THE LAST TIME I PUMPED IN FRONT OF THEM & THEY UNDERSTOOD WHY I DID IT. MY DAYCARE BABY WAS BREASTFEED(STILL IS AT 2)SHE ALSO MIMICS BREASFEEDING WITH HER DOLL. IF YOU ASK HER TO FEED THE BABY SHE WILL PRETEND=WHY? BECAUSE THIS IS WHAT SHE KNOWS(PRIMARILY BOTTLE FREE) THESE ARE THE SAME NORROW MINDED PEOPLE WHO EXPECT US TO BREASTFEED IN HIDING! BREAST WERE CREATED FOR THAT REASON.

Rhonda May 28, 2009, 3:41 PM

This is too funny! There is nothing wrong with kids breastfeeding their dolls. My grandkids did the same thing. Again, as said many times, kids copy what they see.
Breastfeeding is natural. Only those that see it as something else will see something wrong with it. Get over it, it’s here to stay.

Satish Bhardwaj May 28, 2009, 3:54 PM

Ronda Kaysen

What r y trying to prove. What ever u r trying to prove no mother should allow u to prove. It’s shocking that this site allows u to wite. The mother of the child breast feeding doll is a sick woman. She is on a tirade nd sending her photos every wehere. Look Guys my daughter has become a ewoman. She does not have a baby. But she has a doll and her doll is hunmngry; so she is breast feeding her doll. I ytell u it is sickening inspite of your claims that breast feeding is natural. UYesterday on the Tv was a girl with her child. But she was not breast feeding her child. She was breast feeding her father. If she was my wife she’d have been breast feeding me if she was not breast feeding our child. But that woman on Good Morbing America was breast feeding her father. Next time the child would be breast feeding her father because it is natural. Do u even know what u r saying?

Riley May 28, 2009, 4:06 PM

Satish Bhardwaj- Are you serious? You make no sense. Your post is almost unreadable- maybe you’d be smarter if you’d been breastfed!

Spookygirl May 28, 2009, 4:14 PM

Both my youngest children nurse doll’s, my son often nurses his trucks and trains! It’s sad that we live in a world where seeing that is deemed to be a negative thing. My kids grew up seeing not only me nurse, but almost 100% of my friends, so to them it’s totally normal, and using a bottle would be considered odd and would raise questions ;)

Carla May 28, 2009, 5:11 PM

I remember nursing my dolls. It was NOT sexual at all. I was simply feeding my pretend child. My children do the same thing. Anyone that sees something sexual in a child with a doll up to their chest needs to examine their own perversions.

mumof3 May 28, 2009, 5:46 PM

It is so precious to see a child want to nurse their babies! Breasts are made for that reason. It is the most natural thing. My daughter would pretend to nurse her babies… plastic birdies…lol

Jessi May 28, 2009, 7:37 PM

Riley - I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Satish Bhardwaj - learn to read and write and then, and only then, will anyone entertain your opinions.

littlepeapie May 28, 2009, 7:53 PM

I “nursed” my dolls as a child, b/c I saw my aunt nursing her child…I even walked around with nursing pads in my t-shirt! I did what I saw, and what I saw was a good example…I am a nursing mother, and add to that: I am nursing a toddler! That’s what breasts are for!!

SaraSays May 28, 2009, 8:06 PM

I started doing that at 8 months old. I think its adorable seeing little kids doing this. I hope my kids get the motherly instinct as early as I did.

Christina Fiedler May 28, 2009, 8:07 PM

Satisha, no one breastfed their father. You should check that news story again. The milk was pumped and given to the father, so that he could benefit, somehow, from the nutrients to cure his cancer.

Jennifer May 28, 2009, 8:45 PM

Wow! I am the mother of 3 children and all 3 have been exclusively breastfed (currently breastfeeding my 3rd). I have never owned any bottles so it is completely natural for my children to feed their dolls in the same manner. They don’t know any different. Nursing is what they know and see.
I want to applaud Manchester Hospital for displaying this wonderful poster. Education is key.
I would be interested in knowing if all the people that opposed to this poster were people that didn’t breastfeed.
Interesting enough is that we try to educate people about going green (for example). The city promotes recycling, composting, etc. It is good for the environment. There is a ton of literature that is given out, blue boxes for recycling, etc. Some choose to recycle while others don’t. Regardless if you choose to do it you can’t disagree with the fact that it is best for our environment. Same is true with breastfeeding. It is a choice that mothers make. You can make that choice for yourself but the literature shows breastfeeding is best for baby.

Breastfeeding Madonna May 28, 2009, 8:55 PM

Get over it you PRUDES!!! Even Jesus Christ was breastfed!!!

Oh, please! That’s much MORE normal than a kid pretending to feed her baby a bottle. I breastfed my babies and they ALL pretended to breastfeed their dolls. It’s not any different than kids playing house, pretending to cook or clean.

Connie May 28, 2009, 9:40 PM

my niece was breastfed until and never had a bottle. Went straight from the breast to a sippy cup. I was babysitting her one day along with my other 2 nieces who were bottle fed. we were playing with dolls and when I told them that I think your babies are hungry my 2 nieces who were bottle fed gave their baby a bottle while my other niece placed the baby to her chest. When I asked what she was doing she simple said to me “this is how mommy gave me milk” which was cute she was pretending to be her mom caring for her baby. It’s normal. Just like it’s normal for my 2 little boys to hold their wee-wees to go pee like their daddy does. It’s annoying to me when people get mad because a mother is feeding their child like God intended.

Kelly May 28, 2009, 11:10 PM

We see horrific images on the television (and computer) everyday-. Disgusting violent acts of human depravity (child abuse, murder, rape-need I go on?) and a poster of a litte girl pretending to breastfeed her doll is what people are outraged over?
ARE YOU F-ING kidding me?


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