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Far from child's play: 9 weird, offensive and downright dangerous kids' toys

As a breast-feeding doll goes on sale in the US, TheJournal.ie looks at some of the most ill-advised children’s products ever.

A child plays with the Breast Milk Baby
A child plays with the Breast Milk Baby
Image: YouTube

A SPANISH TOYMAKER has confirmed it will roll out its ‘Breast Milk Baby’ doll to the US – and sparked controversy in the process.

The toy comes with a special top for its owner to wear, with flower designs neatly positioned over their nipples. When the doll is held up to the nipples/flowers, it moves and makes suckling sounds. (“Chup! Chup! Chup!” according to its packaging.)

Berjuan Toys, which says it has sold “millions” of the doll in Europe, claims it aims to “teach young girls natural motherhood”. But critics have taken a dimmer view, accusing it of sexualising children. Of course, the Breast Milk Baby isn’t the first toy to spark controversy. Here TheJournal.ie looks at some other children’s products that might have been best left on the drawing board…

  • My Beautiful Mommy How to explain to the kids when you’ve had a nip and tuck? That’s the mother’s dilemma thoughtfully addressed in this children’s book by Florida surgeon Michael Salzhauer, which tells young readers the story of a little girl whose mummy gets, well, enhanced. “It is nearly impossible to hide a plastic surgery transformation from your children,” he warns darkly in the publicity material.
  • Yo-Yo Water Balls They might look innocuous enough, but these cheap, water-filled balls on the end of an elastic string have been linked to several dangerous accidents as children whirled them around their heads only for the string to get tangled around their necks. One child was reported to have turned “almost blue”. They have been banned in several jurisdictions.
  • My Cleaning Trolley Gender stereotyping? Pffft. This miniature set in fetching pink colours includes a realistic vacuum cleaner, mop and broom, spray gun and even your very own toilet plunger. And the kicker: its packaging, at least in this photo, is prominently marked “Girls Only”.
  • Mr Patel Not marketed directly to children, perhaps, but this ‘Adult Doll’ is still a perilously long way beyond acceptability. A cuddly brown-skinned man in a turban, Mr Patel utters a number of phrases including “In my country, we would’ve killed you already.”
  • Baby Alive Taking the ‘realistic doll’ idea to new heights – or, some might argue, depths – this big-eyed figurine does everything short of growing up. Most notably of all, Baby Alive poos: you feed it a baby-food-like green goo, which promptly emerges at the other end. Because changing nappies is the best fun ever.

Video: Baby Alive needs changing

  • Easy-Bake Oven Also steering close to the wind in terms sexual stereotypes – but that’s not the half of it. Manufacturers Hasbro had to recall a million of these cute pink-and-purple kids’ cookers after a “partial finger amputation”, citing the fact that small children can insert their hands into the front opening and get them caught. At least 16 children suffered second and third-degree burns.
  • Caylee Sunshine The death of toddler Caylee Anthony, and subsequent trial of her mother Casey who was found not guilty of manslaughter earlier this month, captivated the US. But perhaps none were so moved as the makers of Caylee Sunshine, a tribute doll “inspired” by the tragic toddler. The macabre figure, which is no longer available, also plays You Are My Sunshine – the tune famously sung by Caylee Anthony in a YouTube clip.
  • Aqua Dots These brightly-coloured toy beads were designed for use in arts and crafts projects. However, when several children were hospitalised after swallowing them, it emerged the Chinese-made beads contained a chemical which converts into notorious ‘date rape’ drug GHB when ingested, causing drowsiness and even unconsciousness.
  • Atomic Energy Lab You might be tempted to call this toy a classic, but it was only available for one year from 1951. Perhaps because the box set for curious youngsters included genuine uranium ore and several sources of alpha, beta and gamma radiation. There was also a Geiger counter – possibly for checking the kids’ playroom for nuclear contamination after use.

About the author:

Michael Freeman

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