Baby dolls have stood the test of time…and with good reason! Children learn by doing. And often what they do, is what they see. A lot of what they see is a parent or care giver taking care of a younger sibling or baby. Playing with baby dolls comes naturally! Speaking of what comes naturally… Play is the natural, organic way to learn. In fact, because play often involves using both sides of the body—developing bilateral coordination—and the brain, it’s a holistic activity.
Baby dolls offer kidlets opportunities for learning about themselves, others and the world around them. Playing with baby dolls is a type of pretend play. Read Why Pretend Play is Important; the following will discuss specifically the benefits of playing with dolls.
Playing with Dolls
Develops Care-taking and Nurturing Skills
Play is the way children begin to understand and make sense of their world. Playing with baby dolls allows them to model what they’ve seen or re-enact what’s been done to them or a sibling. By swaddling and rocking their baby doll, or changing and feeding, your child is practicing taking care of a ‘loved-one’. They develop their sense or empathy as well as gain another’s perspective—that of Mom/Dad—the more they play in this way.
Develops Languages Skills and Cognitive Ability
A baby doll is a toy that naturally lends itself to pretend play, making use of creativity and imagination. The potential for speech and language growth is immense. Engaging in the pretend play with your child will increase their vocabulary and understanding —“Oh I hear your baby. It sounds like he’s fussy? I can clear a space here if you’d like to check to see if his diaper needs changing?” As all parents know, sometimes changing a wet diaper doesn’t quiet a fussy baby. So extend the pretend play! “Oh your poor baby…let’s sing a lullaby while you rock her.”
Develops Fine Motor and Self-Help Skills
Playing with dolls is useful in developing your child’s sense of grooming and hygiene. In dressing his baby doll, your son is improving his pincer strength and precision(the strength and accuracy of the thumb and index finger) as well as toning other fine motor muscles. By clothing her baby doll—putting on shorts and shirt, socks and shoes—your child learns the mechanics and sequence of dressing; steps they’ll be able to translate to themselves. Similarly bathing his baby doll, reinforces his own bathing routines.
Doll play is important for both boys and girls. It imparts life-skills as it allows them a way to understand and/or process day-to-day events that occur in their homes and/or care centers. Understanding, compassion, kindness and caring are qualities we all want to see more of in each other—as children or adults. Begin early and encourage doll play with your children!
Yours in Play!
Reborn baby dolls is much more realistic and intersting to play with)
just my 5cents)
Karen Whittier says
Hi Gloria–Thank you for your comment. Reborn dolls do look life-like…would you be willing to donate a 14″ Reborn doll and have it undergo some real-life play testing? If so, email me at TeacherKaren@RentTheToyChest.com
Thank you for the great article. Till what age is it still ok for a girl to play with dolls?
Karen Whittier says
Good question Dorene! I personally think it’s up to the individual child. They’ll let you know when they’re ready to move on. Most kiddos probably stop somewhere in the 11-13 years (around puberty) but just because they’re not actively playing with dolls doesn’t mean they might not want to collect dolls. I wouldn’t worry too much about it–and definitely not try to shame them for it.
If you played with dolls when you were a child (not all girls enjoy playing with dolls) you can share why you liked playing with them/what you did/your favorite doll’s name, etc and hopefully you’ll learn a little about why she’s continuing to play–invite her to share what she does with her doll and it may reveal a bit of her need for this play. PLAY serves many needs for children because PLAY matters in childhood!
Karen Whittier says
Thanks for your comment–I view the ‘active’ approach to developing children’s social skills…ie, engaged in PLAY with peers or their family members as most effective and observing and repeating being a passive reinforcement that helps cement those skills.