Weird Baby Substitutes

Babies are mini-humans, not pets or playthings that you can do with as you please. Is my point of view really so naïve? I’ve always thought that children are a privilege, not a right, and it really annoys me when I see young mums who have ‘accidentally’ had kids because either they or their partner for the night was drunk. For those people who choose not to have children or too put it off until the ‘right time’ with the ‘right person’, the nurturing instinct can come to the fore in unusual and often peculiar ways.

Do guys get clucky? Well in my experience some do. This can come on suddenly such as when looking at train times and fares they get an epiphany and come down with the let’s-tinker-with-greasy-ramshackle-vehicles bug or the vaguely cleaner, PC-modding bug.

Some women (and occasionally men) admit that they have pets instead of children. As a social animal, Man does need companionship and the majority of pet owners have pets for this very reason.

Pets as Children

In an article in the Sunday Sun a survey by insurer Petplan found that 77% of Scottish women had a pet for companionship, 25% have adapted their home for their pets and an amazing 75% buy their pets presents. And when I say presents, I also mean that these presents get wrapped up and opened on the special day with the help of the pet in question. It also found case studies of women who have their dogs solely as child replacements and even dress them up as they would children. Psychologist Dr Deborah Wells of Queens University Belfast confirmed that this is a well recognised behaviour where the lady in question uses the pet as an ‘outlet for emotional attachment’.

It’s all very well dressing up your faithful hound but if you want something more baby-like then the Americans (naturally) have the edge. And it’s in the form of the Capuchin monkey.

In the US, newspapers and magazines abound with capuchins in the classifieds. Here’s a taste of a typical example: ‘…very small as well as demeanour just similar to a small womanlike baby. She is twenty-one weeks aged as well as she is ready to be your home messenger or your most appropriate friend. You have been seeking for a good home for her where she can get lots of courtesy as well as family companion.’ Sheesh!

Most of the capuchins that are bought come from farms and retail at $6000. Although not as popular as dogs it is estimated that 15,000 capuchins currently live in people’s homes. Take the case of couple Lori and Jim. They have a ‘baby’ that goes by the name of Jessica Marie; Jessy. Jim takes remarks against Jessy not being a real child very seriously. ‘She is my daughter, 100%!’
Of course capuchins aren’t as expensive to rear as a human child. Nevertheless she’s 18 now and her ‘parents’ like dressing her up in pink frilly dresses and putting on a bit of slap. Lori says it makes her look ‘real purdy’. Whereas I’m all for animal dignity and respect, Lori feels differently, ‘She doesn’t know what another monkey is. And she doesn’t like monkey food either, bananas and all that; she likes doughnuts, cup cakes, candy, lollipops and ice cream’. Great.

Jesus and Carmen own ‘baby’ Butters. He loves his parents just as much as a real child would, he won’t get in with the wrong crowd and disappoint you before eventually disappearing with some inappropriate bride and leaving you to pick up the pieces. OK.

Mary Lynn has several monkeys but is a great believer in discipline. If monkey, Maggie May, pulls her nappy off she’ll get sent to the naughty step (still inside the cage.)

So much for animal dignity. What makes these people think this is acceptable usually stems from traumas such as ‘empty nest syndrome’ or a couple’s inability to have their own biological children. I just hope they at least make some provision for their care should the owners pass away first. After all, capuchins can live over 40 years.


In Japan there is no danger of the monkey taking over as a pseudo-baby. They have the technology! Created by Masayoshi Kano of Nagoya’s Chukyo University, the Babyloid is aimed at senior citizens who exhibit symptoms of dementia. Caring for dolls has been shown to have therapeutic benefit and this is just the latest advancement. The Babyloid is 17” in length and weighs 4.8lbs. It can move its head, mouth, arms and arms and can even use LEDs in its face to mimic emotions. As well as the standard ‘authentic baby sounds’ this robot kiddie has optical and pyroelectric sensors to detect people. If the Babyloid gets past the trial stage it’s expected to sell for £450.

Reborn Babies

If you haven’t been put off by these substitutes yet then this is my last chance to shock you. If you’ve never heard of ‘Reborns’ then brace yourself. These dolls are designed to look and feel like real newborns. Many women buy them and treat them like real children, going as far as dressing them, taking them out in prams and carrying them in slings. They are an expensive child replacement, however, costing several thousands of pounds.

Molly Rose Reborn

These dolls can fill a void left by, say the tragedy of a stillbirth or infant death, but for some it’s simply just a way of having a child without the ‘downsides’ of parenthood.

Jamie Reborn

OK, so I’m a little obsessed with trains in moral storytelling, but the next time you are checking your train timetable and a mum is nearby, just be aware that her pram may not contain what you expect!