Little kids love to imitate their parents. It’s a natural part of their development and is a major step toward figuring out what language and social skills they need as they grow. Ever wondered how your 2-year-old knows how to work a smartphone? She’s watched you do it a thousand times. When you stretch out after a run, your toddler may be right there beside you, imitating every move. It’s part bonding but also a stepping stone to independence (Wow! I can do what Mommy does! I’m great!).
So a young daughter pretending to breastfeed her baby doll shouldn’t be any different than the smartphone-swiping or post-run stretching kid. But when one unnamed American mom shared cute photos of her 2-year-old daughter Charlotte pretending to breastfeed her doll, she was horrified to receive some truly disgusting, negative feedback.
The mom shared her experience on a pro-breastfeeding Facebook page, Breastfeeding Mama Talk. Her post included a screengrab of a post from another unknown woman, who called the 2-year-old’s play-breastfeeding “the nastiest shit of my life” and said Charlotte’s mom should be “punched in the damn face” for not discouraging it.
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Well done to this mom for sharing her experience and highlighting the ridiculous, narrow-minded attitudes of others. Breastfeeding is completely natural, and just as natural is a little girl’s desire to mimic her mom.
How is it different when a child puts a bottle to its doll’s mouth? It’s simply a different way of feeding a baby. Breastfeeding is not a sexual act; it’s normal daily behavior for millions of families around the world. Charlotte’s mom confirmed that she is still being breastfed, so for this toddler it’s a huge part of her everyday life.
If Charlotte’s mom had discouraged her from feeding her doll in this way, what sort of message would that send to the little girl? That there is something wrong or shameful or embarrassing about what her own mom does to her on a daily basis?
The response to Charlotte play-feeding her doll on Breastfeeding Mama Talk has gone some way toward redressing the balance. Hundreds of parents have left comments, many of which include photos of their own children — daughters and sons — “breastfeeding” their dolls and stuffed animals.
Others pointed out that many of the haters never used the words “breast” or “nipple” in their barbs, instead using bizarre terms like “dots.” A breast is a breast. A nipple is a nipple. The way an arm is an arm and a leg is a leg. If someone has issues that make them unable to even type those words, their problems go way deeper than being offended by a picture of a sweet little girl playing with her baby doll.