An award winning doll which allows little girls to simulate breastfeeding has been branded 'creepy' and inappropriate by parents in the US.
The doll, made by Spanish company Berjuan Toys, is billed as being designed to 'help children learn about one of the most natural ways to care for a baby'.
On the company's website, the American rep for Berjuan, Dennis Lewis, writes that while 'many dolls come with plastic bottle' the Breast Milk Baby 'demonstrates the most natural way that a mother can feed her baby'.
The doll won the Dr Toy Top 100 Best Children's Product of 2011, and was given a 'Socially Responsible Products' accolade, something that Dennis Lewis says 'is a very satisfying recognition of our philosophy to bring education, understanding and fun to children through imaginative, nurturing, pretend role play'.
The doll comes with a 'fashionable halter-top' that the child wears, with two 'pretty flower' decorations lined up where a woman's nipples would be. When the doll is brought up to the flowers, a sensor causes its mouth to make suckling motions and noises. Once the doll is fed it cries to be burped and cuddles.
Critics of the doll say it is forcing kids to grow up too soon. Broadcaster Bill O'Reilly said on his Fox news show that we 'don't need' products like this.
"I just want the kids to be kids," he said, but breastfeeding campaigner and author Sally Wendkos Olds, disagreed, saying people must stop seeing breastfeeding as something sexual.
"I think it's a very cute toy," she said. 'I think it's just crazy what Bill O'Reilly was saying that it's sexualising little girls. The whole point is that so many people in our society persist in sexualizing breastfeeding, where in so many other countries around the world they don't think anything of it."
A video of the doll on YouTube attracted both for and against comments - one poster said that little girls should not exposed to 'wanting' to breastfeed, while others said the toy helped promote breast milk, and was a positive thing.
The doll comes in a range of skin tones and is available in both girl and boy versions at a cost of $89.00, around £55.00.
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