Baby dolls have come a long way. They cry. They babble. They crawl.
Heck, they even pee - and poop.
Now, here comes Bebé Glotón, one of the newest to join the babes in toyland. Unlike the others, this cutie out of Spain doesn't have its own tiny plastic bottle.
Bebé Glotón breast-feeds.
Touted as a first, BG has sparked a tantrum-sized controversy, particularly Stateside, over its virtues as a plaything.
"Just ick," said one Twitterer. "Incredibly creepy," said another posting. Some go as far as to suggest that the toy will encourage sex and lead to more pregnant teens.
The doll, only just available this month in its home country, isn't even expected to reach U.S. stores until next year. Meanwhile, a demonstration video by dollmaker Berjuan S.L. playing on YouTube - 235,168 views and counting - has stoked the criticism and commentary.
All of which may say more about Yankee attitudes toward breast-feeding (and breasts) than it does about toys and the way children play.
"The United States is pretty provincial when it comes to breast-feeding," said Amy Jussel, founder and executive director of Shaping Youth, a nonprofit consortium of marketers concerned with the impact of media messages on children. "We tend to sexualize boobs out here."
Jussel said Bebé Glotón would be a tough sell in America because of what the child advocate calls the "objectification and pornification of the culture."
"In our highly suggestive, surround-sound marketing of sex in the United States," she said, a breast-feeding doll "becomes a trashier thing."
In the demo video, a school-age girl dons a floral halter top with green and pink daisies that represent breasts. When the life-size baby doll is pressed against a sensor in the daisy, it makes a suckling noise as it moves its mouth. After pretending to nurse for a few seconds, the child in the video pats the back of Bebé Glotón (the literal translation is "Gluttonous Baby," an endearment in Hispanic cultures) and the doll produces a satisfied burp.
Despite the greater acceptance of breast-feeding in the United States, few issues seem to divide American mothers so deeply.
Sisters Stefanie Leivers and Jenifer Phillips shopped at the Toys R Us in Media, where Mommy Change My Diaper and Baby Ah-Choo - its nose runs and the doll comes with a tiny box of tissues - are sold, among others.
Leivers, 28, who's expecting her third child, said she would never buy a breast-feeding doll for her 4-year-old daughter.
"I'm just uncomfortable with that doll," said the Norwood resident, who didn't nurse her children.
"Now I would," said Phillips, 33, of Drexel Hill, who has a daughter who was breast-fed. "I think it would be a great way for her to understand it's a natural thing, a primal instinct, to breast-feed your baby."
Like many, Doylestown resident Shannon Lelli, founder of the Web site Grumpymoms.com and the mother of three youngsters, said she wasn't opposed to breast-feeding, though it didn't succeed for her. Rather, she finds the doll - and young children playing breast-feed - "too much, too soon. . . . Yes, it's natural. And it's the way God intended it to work. But so is sex. You don't let kids simulate that."
Barb Urban of Havertown couldn't disagree more. As a La Leche League leader in Delaware County, the mother of two thinks Bebé Glotón is "pretty cool. It's a wonderful thing."
Urban said her 4-year-old daughter already pretends to nurse her doll - common practice among older siblings of babies who are breast-fed.
"They just do what their parents do," said Loretta McCallister, a spokeswoman for La Leche League International, which has found appreciation for the doll among its members. "It's not a sexual thing. It's nourishment for the baby. . . . Are we as a society preventing our children from learning about the facts of life?"
Its rough reception across the Atlantic took the family-operated business by surprise, Berjuan export manager Neida Merlos said in an e-mail. Spaniards, she said, love the concept of the doll, which will retail for 40 euros (about $55).
"In the United States we've found a lot of prejudices about the doll, with people thinking it was wrong and it will cause traumas, even teenagers getting pregnant," she wrote. "We find that reaction very strange."
The doll's biggest supporters, including a Spanish breast-feeding consortium, think it will encourage breast-feeding, which the American Academy of Pediatrics and numerous other groups recommend for at least one year.
In the United States, breast-feeding rates have steadily increased since 1993. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the percentage of infants who were ever breast-fed increased to 77 percent for those born in 2005 and 2006 compared with 60 percent for babies born in 1993 and 1994. The same analysis, however, found that the rate of sustained breast-feeding remains low, with only about one-third of U.S. babies fed breast milk by the time they are six months old.
In the mid-'80s, mothers could be cited for nursing in public. Now, legislation in almost every state protects against that, and breast-pumping rooms at Fortune 500 companies are not uncommon.
Jo-Lynne Shane, 37, who writes a blog called "Musings of a Housewife" from the Pottstown area, said she thought it was "precious" when her middle child would lift her shirt and mimic nursing a doll.
But she's no fan of Bebé Glotón.
"I think some things are better left to imagine, not because it's indecent," she said, "but because it's better for children to pretend. I don't even buy the dolls that cry."