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Is the world ready for a baby doll that breast-feeds?

What do you think about "The Breast Milk Baby," a new doll that encourages little girls (or boys) to pretend to breast-feed? It comes with a special shirt for kids to wear with pink flowers painted over the nipple areas. Too weird? TODAY Moms contributor Jennifer Langston wonders what the fuss is about.

By Jennifer Langston

There’s no shortage of pretend play toys on the market – kids can make cupcakes, listen to a heartbeat, vacuum a rug, fly with fairies, fight fires and serve tea. But produce a doll that allows kids to pretend to breast-feed and prepare for an onslaught of very real protest.

The Bebe Gloton doll caused a stir when it was released in 2009; now the English-language Breast Milk Baby is doing the same.

The Breast Milk Baby “lets young girls express their love and affection in the most natural way possible, just like Mommy,” according to the doll’s website and manufacturer. It includes this video that demonstrates how it works: a little girl straps on a halter with pink flowers over the nipple areas, lets the baby slurp away and burps it. The manufacturer goes on to suggest the doll may help move the U.S. toward greater acceptance of breast-feeding, a practice that’s recommended by respected child health organizations.

Here’s a sampling of comments from a brief NY Daily News article on the US debut of The Breast Milk Baby (a similar version, Bebe Gloton, was released in Spain two years ago):

“This is so morally unacceptable! Why is/should this be important to a young girl who probably hasn't yet even started her menstruation? This (toy) is just making the young girls get interested in sex at an even earlier age!” – beekwiet

“Why would a little girl need to learn how to breast-feed before she has breasts? Before she goes through puberty? This is another disgusting example of forcing adulthood on our children decades before they're ready to absorb it.” – myrtlemay

But breast-feeding has nothing to do with sex, as anyone who has had sour milk stains on every shirt and no time to do laundry can attest. And at the age when kids might be playing with this doll, they’re likely to point to a nipple and call it an ankle.

This IS just a toy (though at $99, a pricey one). Kids love to mimic things they see adults doing, whether that’s using a stapler, brushing their hair or making a grocery list. Why is this different than a doll that comes with a bottle?

Weigh in, please.

Jennifer Langston is a Seattle freelance writer and recovering daily news reporter who likes to catch fish, scoop sand and thrift shop with her two-year-old daughter.