Baby, Think It Over

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Fall 2007 / Vol. 7, No. 4

The baby is screaming. My wife is tapping its back. It keeps screaming. She shakes it. More high-pitched baby screams.

Finally, I shout, “Throw it in the freezer!”

My wife laughs. She turns the little black doll over and fiddles with, yes, the key.

I was first introduced to Baby Think It Over® several years ago, when the 13-year-old babysitter arrived carrying—my God!—a baby and promptly tripped on the steps, flinging the little bundle onto the bluestone sidewalk. I gasped. The babysitter screamed. The bundle went Waaah!

My son’s school paid $300 apiece for a dozen or so of these computer-assisted dolls. According to his teacher, Ms. Ferraro, they are meant to teach prepubescent kids how difficult it is to take care of a baby and thus make them “think it over.” And for the past few years it has been a ritual of fall to see 8th graders in the supermarket, in church, at football games, carrying their “little babies,” which Waaah! at the appropriately inappropriate times and embarrass the kid.

But this is serious business. On the Baby Think It Over web site (, you’d think you were shopping for a new car:

“As of July 1, 2007 Realityworks will discontinue support for older models…Standard Baby (Generation 4) released in 1996, Realistic Head Support Baby (Generation 5) released in 1998, Original RealCare Baby released in 1999…. Please consider the Trade-In Program.… We’ll give you a $50 discount toward the purchase of the latest Realityworks infant simulator.”

You can’t make this stuff up.

The students must take the “babies” for a weekend, everywhere they go. They fill out a chart, noting when it cried, what the student was doing, how long it cried, how the student felt, and how others were affected. My son was reading a book (good for him) at 3:46 p.m. when the baby started crying. “I felt fine,” he wrote.

The next entry is in my wife’s handwriting. Crying started at 4:55 and ended at 4:55. And what was she doing at the time? “Talking to our dog.” How did she feel? “Anxious.” Her next entry, 20 minutes later, is “Key breaks.”

She elaborated in her own journal (I refused to keep one): “In order to let our son attend his first snowboarding night with the City Youth Department, I volunteered to babysit. Trying to stop the baby’s crying, I broke the plastic key. I drove to the Middle School and threw myself on your mercy.”

She got a new key (for $6), and our son took over later that night. He made another dozen or so entries; he was, variously, sleeping, riding in the car, watching TV, sleeping, sleeping, sleeping, brushing teeth, when the baby cried, and he always felt “fine.” The crying never affected anyone else except once, in church. “It scared my dad,” he noted.

After my son turned in his baby, he came home from school dejected, with a note. “I had it 66 hours. Let neck down 13 times. 5 neglects. 2 rough handling. Let cry 37 minutes.”

My wife was incensed. She penned “an addendum” to her journal. “I think that a piece of the missing broken key could be a cause of the result. Please advise.”

I could have advised: a piece of broken logic got stuck in the educational cerebellum.

Later that year, on the way to my son’s 8th-grade graduation, we stopped at the hospital to visit his classmate, Katlyn, and her new baby boy. “Did he come with a key?” I asked. She laughed, beaming, as any new mother would. Of some 80 girls in the class, 4 were pregnant that year. They were barely 14.

I recently called Ms. Ferraro to ask how things were going. She explained that she probably wouldn’t get any new babies. “I was chaperoning at a football game, and these kids had the babies in shopping bags. They had figured out how to put duct tape over the babies’ heads and on to their chests so the head wouldn’t move.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell her that some kids play football with the babies.

Peter Meyer, former news editor of Life magazine, is a freelance writer and a contributing editor of Education Next.

Comment on this article
  • melissa coles says:

    Yes i am trying to fine out were can i buy the doll at for mine cousin and mine daurhter and nices And how mush and the phone number please

  • jessica says:

    i would also like to know were to get them please

  • Hope says:

    We’re can you find these

  • Teacher Tara says:

    You should be able to contact them and buy one, but they are meant to be educational tools, not toys so they are rather pricey.

  • Amanda Mae says:

    My life skills class is doing this next weekend and I’m really excited but I’m also nervous…

  • J. A. Henson says:

    It sounds as though your son and his friends were ill-prepared for the project. Actually, I question the value of even using the dolls with boys. Despite advances in society, the teenage mother’s life changes forever after her child’s birth, whereas for teen fathers this is by no means always the case.

    I’m a teacher and once taught in a high school where the dolls were used for a course in the social studies section. In my experience, students who did the project took it very seriously and got a lot out of it. All were excited when their turn with the doll started. And I found it interesting to observe how soon disillusionment and exhaustion set in for each student! A few (very few) really “bonded” with their pretend baby and were sad to relinquish it. But by the end of the week, although elated that they’d succeeded in the project, the vast majority were exhausted and really rather relieved to hand over responsibility to the next “mother” in line and go back to their relatively carefree lives. Which, of course, is precisely what is supposed to happen!

    I think the idea is brilliant and that when students who are appropriately well-prepared for the project, the dolls can achieve something that a thousand lectures will not.

  • Peter Meyer says:

    Dear J.A. Henson,

    You’re probably on to something here: a difference between boys and girls. It could be the difference between a good idea and a bad idea.



  • Corinne says:

    I am also a teacher. Students at my school also participate in this project in grades 6, 7, and 8. But no one else is allowed to babysit. Only the student can care for it. Our students take the project seriously, as well. I think it is valuable for them.

  • hdcaku says:

    Getting a Baby Think it Over club in my afterschool program! Can’t wait, my friend did it one year and she got send out of class because it wouldn’t stop!

  • liz says:

    I did this in high school, for extra credit, since we were the first class to have them. I wasn’t “doing it”, but i decided to wait. But the night I brought the doll home, my dad said to me, What is that? i told him, he replied by saying, if i hear that going off during the night i’m throwing it out the window, i replied by telling him have alot of money ready to give to the teacher because they are not to cheap. But nothing went out the window. And i learned alot from the doll got extra credit and know i’m thirty years old with a five year old and a twenty one month old. I’m glad i waited. These dolls can teach alot.

  • amber says:

    imma take the baby think it over thing this year im so nervuse i dont no wat to do

  • Kate says:

    I did this in school. Lost a lot of sleep but definitely made me think it over!!

  • donna says:

    On the second day at 3:30 am, with the screaming doll she was too exhausted to console, my daughter tore off the bracelet. She failed the class. I protested. Baby-Think-It-Over had taught the lesson. She knew she wasn’t ready for a baby. The teacher allowed her to write an essay of the experience.

    I had my own version of Baby-Think-It-Over. I made my daughters help care for their siblings. My 34 year old was in her late 20’s and married before becoming a mom and my 24 year old remains child-less.

    They should make a teen version of this doll that disrespects, smokes pot, breaks curfew and lies. That would really give em something to think over.

  • says says:

    my brother got so annoyed he threw his out the window and of course he did fail the class but he doesnt have a kid yet and he is married

  • Cheyenne Loring says:

    I have a baby think it over with me right now and it is going great. It is for an 8th grade project for 30 points. The ”baby’s” name is Emma and she already cried 5 times. The first time she cried was on the bus, the second time I was watching TV, the third time was when I was doing home work, the fourth time was when i was eating dinner and the fifth time was when i was listening to music. I’m thinking it over and i won’t have kids for a long time

  • Maria Valdivia says:

    I did this in high school and I did a poor job. In the night I would leave my doll in the floor naked except for it’s diaper so it would be easier to care for without interfering much with my sleep. Now I’m doing it again with my fiance to see how having a baby would affect our lifestyle. I want a baby and while I’m more responsible now and my dog handles it well and is even protective of the doll. My fiance is not ready to be a dad. He let’s the head fall back. He doesn’t want to help. He says he would be better with a real baby but how can I trust him? And it would be too much for me on my own. This baby is definitely making me think it over. Lol.

  • Rachel clark says:

    I have been really trying to purchase one of these dolls for my child if anyone has a used one they would like to sell please contact me at (269) 841-0843or at thank you.

  • Angie F says:

    i have a baby think it over for sale with both keys. If interested please let me know $300

  • Tondalaya says:

    Angie F how can I get in contact with you? I would like to see about purchasing the baby think it over.

  • Z says:

    I have some for sale… 3gzonnefeld-at gmail-dot-com

    Our school upgraded so I have a dozen available!

  • aubrey cole says:

    What do you do if the baby screams for 3 hours nonstop and you have done everything at least 6 times

  • gemma says:

    to Angie F how much do it cost for the key and do you know if the key that you have will work on Reality works Real care baby 2 think it over Replacement key Generation2

  • rachel says:

    looking for a think it over doll im in uk where would I find one thankyou

  • Sabella Shepard says:

    My stepmother signed all of the kids up for these classes when we were teens and that would include the boys. She wanted to make sure we were super well prepared and because of that we all aced it when we had this in school even the boys. It’s not that boys can’t do it it’s just dependent on how well they know what they are doing.

  • Gilbra Joseph says:

    I’m interested in purchasing one of the doll, if anyone have information email me at

  • Julie says:

    It’s seems like they only have these programs in middle school, which is really disappointing to me because I’m homeschooled and out of the country, and won’t go to school in the States until Senior year… Does anyone know of a school that does this for seniors or maybe juniors? That’s in the US…
    Thanks! Xx

  • Maggie says:

    I’m interested in purchasing one of this dolls anyone with info where I can purchase please email me

  • angela dietz says:

    I have baby think it over for rent. I will send it to you and you pay $100 deposit. Then $35 a day. When I get doll back will do the read out and email results

  • Cheyenne harly says:

    I really really want one. I want to see what its like to have a baby befor i go having one. If anyone has one but i want one atleast with the moveable neck so i know if i let its neck drop. Email. Is babygurl.harly2002 at please email me

  • Curiositeej says:

    I just got a group of these dolls in. I have G4, G5, G6, and Real Care dolls. I am cleaning them up and testing them. They should be ready be the end of the week. Look me up on FaceBook at: Curiositeej Dolls & Collectibles

  • Precious cann says:

    I try get one

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