mydollsAs a child, I loved my stuffed animals and dolls. I mean I *loved* them! My brother too. We treated them as though they were real. I never threw them on the floor (because they might get hurt) and I never put them on my bed face down (because they might suffocate). I tried to play with each of them equally (so no one’s feeling got hurt) and I still remember the day I noticed my somewhat left out yellow dog went missing and my mom admitted she’d donated it to my fun fair at school. My poor neglected, lonely and scared yellow dog! I spent the whole fun fair trying to find him and never did. Oh the guilt and anguish that resulted for that five year old girl!

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Even as a teenager I loved my stuffies. I collected teddy bear Gunds for awhile and still have the panda bear my first love shoplifted for me when I was 15.  Whenever I felt lonely or sad I always had a teddy to keep me company. When I moved out of the house on my own, a couple favorites came with me, eventually replaced by boyfriends, but never forgotten or too far away.

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A few years ago my step-dad found a bag full of my old stuffies from my childhood. I had to make the painful decision to throw most of them away, keeping just a couple very special ones to pass on to my daughters and even Ruffles, an old worn, ear-ripped, tongue-missing, sawdust-spilling, St.Bernard I just couldn’t bear the thought of decomposing at the garbage dump.

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Have I mentioned I wasn’t breastfed? Or that my mother let me cry-it-out? Or that my parents divorced after first grade? I like to think a possible attachment disorder explains things.

Fast forward to my first child’s birth. People like to buy stuffed animals for kids, and I was pretty eager to re-live my stuffy love through my daughter. But she co-slept so really never had the need for a stuffed animal to keep her company. I’m a stay-at-home mom, so again, she wasn’t left anywhere on a regular basis to need an animal friend. But still, I tried to play with them with her, but she just wasn’t interested. And now, I don’t push it, but every couple months or so I ask her “Would you like to sleep with one of your stuffed animals?” I open the cupboard to show her the litter of them, patiently sitting on the top shelf of her closet, quietly collecting dust, waiting for her to play with them. Last night, I thought we had made some progress.

“I want to see them Mommy,” she told me. “I want a bear,” she decides.

So I show her the bears. She chooses to ugliest one. It isn’t soft or cozy at all. It’s legs and arms have bendable wires in them, and its fur is kind of scratchy, but it’s a start. I say goodnight and then two minutes later I hear her throw it on the floor and scream. I go inside to find her crying.

“I hate teddy bears!” she yells at me. “I don’t want to sleep with one ever, ever again!”

Okay, okay. Geez.

I turn to her sister who doesn’t like stuffed animals but will play with dolls sometimes. For awhile she liked to sleep with one as she crawled into bed to sleep beside me, but recently she’ll have nothing to do with them anymore.

But really, why should either of them need one? They’ve always had me to snuggle up to, to respond to their cries, to hold them when it’s dark and they’re scared. Dolls and bears are for pretend but the needs of a child for comfort is real.

I think my brother and I projected our need for closeness from our parents onto our dolls, and as such they became an important part of our emotional upbringing. I mean, how many adults watch A Toy Story and feel like they can empathize with the talking toys?

I know all children are different and there are no doubt thousands of breastfed children who adore stuffed animals just as much as I did. But could there be a correlation between breastfeeding and a child’s affection for stuffed animals and/or dolls?

I’d like your opinion.

As for me, I think I’m going to go give those dust-collecting stuffies a bath and maybe take them downstairs for the daycare kids to play with. I mean, I think they’re getting lonely.

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33 Responses to “Are Breastfed Children Less Likely To Sleep With Dolls?”

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