When it comes to toys, children don’t crave authenticity and veracity, as much as they just require a vehicle that allows them to suspend disbelief long enough to simply lose themselves in play. While products like the hugely popular American Girl Doll provides a remarkably singular experience, with a doll that holds more of a resume and history than most of the parents cajoled into buying the $100 ticket item, most pretend play toys don’t require as much exactitude to inspire a child’s imagination.
Last year I reported on a breast-feeding baby doll called Bebe Gloton (rough translation being “baby glutton”) who allowed children (not quite gender discriminatory, but girls would more likely be drawn to such a doll) to pretend to nurse the doll. Many readers, and critics, cried foul and said this was “too much, too soon” and girls (and boys, I guess) don’t need this level of explicitness to play “mommy.”
This year, the game (or the doll) has been taken to the next level with MamAmor Birthing and Breastfeeding Dolls. Hand crafted and created by a mother and doula living in Canada, Adriana Guerra. The dolls, when shipped, come already pregnant (no word on how they got that way, or who the father might be) and ready to “pop.” These soft cloth dolls let the recipient decide when the birthday should arrive, and when the mothering should commence. Along with holding a baby doll within, each MamAmor doll comes with an elastic vagina (for birthing the baby – no c-sections necessary) and a woven umbilical cord and a placenta. The baby doll, once gingerly removed from the mama doll, has a little button snap where its mouth should be so it could easily connect with the button nipple on the chest of the mama doll.
The website promotes the dolls as “educational tools” that demonstrate “normal, natural birth, breastfeeding, and bonding” along with the added bonus of being tools for “play therapy.” The dolls themselves are very natural and organic in nature, and not unlike something you would expect to find in a Waldorf village (although this level of specificity would probably be frowned upon in Waldorf circles). Like the American Girl dolls, these dolls come with a hefty price tag ($130 for the basic, and $145 for custom dolls), but unlike American Girl dolls, these dolls have not so much history to teach, as physiology and maternal attachment.
So I, one who finds little objection to these sorts of ambitious products, predictably have little to object to when considering MamAmor dolls (except for the steep price tag). That said, I am sure some readers will be up in arms about this newfangled version of a nesting doll. One that reveals a bit more anatomy than most parents may be comfortable with. Does this doll provide too much information, and thus prematurely expose children to more detail than necessary? Or is this a great leap forward, promoting the natural, and physical, bond between mother and child? Do children really need all of this verisimilitude to really get into the game?