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Video: Does breast-feeding doll go too far?

TODAY contributor
updated 8/6/2009 11:40:16 AM ET 2009-08-06T15:40:16

It’s probably all Betsy Wetsy’s fault.

If the iconic baby-boom generation baby doll hadn’t introduced the world to the notion that dolls could have bodily functions, then maybe today we wouldn’t be talking about Bebe Gloton — the doll that that suckles 6-year-old girls.

“I just worry about what’s next,” TODAY’s Kathie Lee Gifford said after watching a video clip showing a young girl wearing a vest with daisies where her breasts would be ... if she had any.

The girl held the doll to the daisies, and the doll made suckling noises.

“It’s got a little creep factor,” Gifford opined to co-host Hoda Kotb.

“Why would you want a suckling doll for an 8-year-old?” Kotb wondered.

Some are wondering why you would want a suckling doll for anyone. The Spanish manufacturers of Bebe Gloton — “Baby Glutton” in English — say the doll is meant to encourage nurturing in young girls and to promote breast-feeding. But others, including Kotb and Gifford, are wondering whether it’s too much, too soon.

Then there’s the idea that it was just a matter of time. After all, Gifford observed, “we have dolls that go potty.”

That was Betsy Wetsy’s big trick when she was introduced in the 1930s. It made the doll one of the most memorable and creative playthings of the 20th century, according to the Toy Industry Association, which enshrined Betsy in its Century of Toys list in 2003.

Betsy’s success, which peaked in the 1950s, led to the invention of the next big thing in live-action dolls, Tiny Tears. Whereas Betsy Wetsy wet her pants after being fed a bottle, Tiny Tears cried after drinking hers.

Little girls were enthralled.

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Today, there are anatomically correct dolls sold by specialty manufacturers such as Amamanta Family that take little girls and boys — and big ones, too — through the entire birth process. There are therapy dolls and disabled dolls and talking dolls and walking dolls.

And now a doll that sucks on a daisy on a little girl’s chest.

“I guess it teaches you about nurturing,” Kotb conceded.

“But to see a 6-year-old,” she added, “it’s just weird.”

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