The Type of Doll Your Kids Play With Matters More Than You Think
If you have young children in your life, you already know that there are a LOT of dolls on the market. Dolls with blue hair, dolls that poop, dolls that cry, dolls that transform into a robot (well, that probably exists...). Anyway, there are a lot of dolls out there. But, the type of doll you choose for your child matters. It matters for their social and emotional development, their perceptions of gender, their cultural awareness and sense of self.
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Dolls are for boys AND for girls.
Read it again. If your sons aren't playing with dolls, they are missing out on some vital role playing that can help them better process and understand the world around them, including routines that they might have a tough time with. More on that later.
Here are a few things you might consider when shopping for dolls for your toddlers:
What is this doll made of? I recommend hard plastic dolls over the soft body kinds, so that your child can role play bath time. Also, the hard plastic ones will last longer. They are also easier to clean, and can be sanitized unlike the soft body dolls.
Is this doll age appropriate? There are many fabulous dolls out there that are just meant for an older demographic. This is another reason I recommend the hard plastic dolls. I don't believe my children are ready for dolls with hair. Toddlers are tough on toys... at least, mine are.
Do we have a diverse collection of dolls, or does every single doll look just like my child? Sure, it's great to have your child see themselves reflected back at them in their doll. But, especially if your child is white, it's equally important for them to experience other skin colors in their toys & books. If you spend 99% of your time with only your close family (as many due to the pandemic now do), these diverse doll experiences are especially important.
Is the doll anatomically accurate? This is another reason I recommend the hard plastic dolls over soft body ones. It is SO important that we teach our children the correct names of ALL of their anatomy. Elbow, ankle, penis, vulva. Get comfortable saying them. A child who is taught to nickname or be secretive about their "private parts" is less empowered to speak up if there's an issue down there, or tell you if (God forbid) they've been inappropriately touched.
Enter: The Miniland Doll.
These are fantastic dolls for toddlers. They are made of hard plastic and they come in a huge spectrum of races and there are even Downs Syndrome dolls available! They are anatomically accurate, the perfect size for toddlers (about 13") and so hardy.
Because they are all plastic, they can be sanitized and submerged in water unlike most soft body dolls. My kids love to role play bath time with these dolls! Read on for more ideas.
I'm not sponsored by them, I just really love this company!!
Suggestions for doll play that aren't playing house:
Role play bath time, where your child gives the baby a bath. This activity has helped us with real bath time SOOOO MUCH.
Role play meal time, where your child is the "parent" feeding supper to the baby. Ask them, what are they having for dinner? Does the baby like it? My kids have lots of fun being the "parent" and repeating the things I tell them during our real mealtimes to their pretend babies.
Put on music and dance with your baby!
If you are potty training your child, practice bringing baby to the potty. These dolls come with underwear so you can make a big deal out of that if your child is transitioning to underwear. Honestly this is how my son played with them most when he was going through the potty training process. You can put the little baby on the potty, teach how to wipe front to back, do exactly what you would do with your child for potty training but with the doll. Then have your child be the grown up!
One more thing. These dolls smell like cookies. I'm really sensitive to artificial smells but I LOVE how these dolls smell. It has stayed with ours for over 2 years despite frequent bathing.
Check out my doll suggestions on my Amazon Storefront! Have FUN!!