A favorite doll is a child’s first best friend, often before they’re ready to form real human friendships. As the experts at Corolle (one of our favorite doll companies) write on their page, a baby’s first doll can be a cherished security item to snuggle with, and a toddler will begin imitating how her parents care for her, eventually playing out realistic nurturing situations and then turning to dolls as confidantes.
Of course, the developmental benefits of doll play apply equally to both boys and girls, and yes, boys will enjoy playing with dolls too! Here are some of the benefits that all kids can enjoy from having baby dolls for pals.
1) Caring and nurturing skills. Imitating the way adults care for babies requires thinking about what someone else might need: a baby needs to be fed, kept warm, cleaned, and comforted if it’s sad. In caring for their doll, children practice empathy. MamaOT writes, “In carrying, holding, feeding, and rocking baby dolls, children are practicing being loving to others.”
2) Cognitive skills. There are infinite important lessons to be learned by playing with a doll, especially if a parent is on hand. For instance: how better to learn the names of body parts than having them pointed out on a doll? And narrating what he’s doing with his doll is a great way for your child to practice and reinforce language skills.
3) Fine motor and self-help skills. Dressing and undressing a doll is a great way for your child to learn how her own clothing works and practice using zippers and buttons. Bathing and feeding a doll will also help your child learn how to bathe and feed herself (and practice sequencing skills too). And a doll can be a powerful ally in potty-training: while there are any number of different methods for teaching your child to use the potty, many experts agree that using a drink-and-wet doll to demonstrate proper potty usage, and then having kids “teach” their doll how to go, is a good way to teach and motivate kids.
4) Getting ready for a new sibling. Role play with a baby doll is a great way to get a big sister or big brother used to the idea of not being the baby of the family anymore, and they’ll be very proud to be a helper when their new sibling arrives. The experts at What To Expect suggest doing “practice runs” with a baby doll so your child can practice fetching diapers, wipes, and towels, and making funny faces and singing songs to cheer up a crying baby.
As I mentioned above, Corolle is our #1 baby doll brand, with a wide assortment of gorgeous dolls designed to perfectly suit various developmental stages (and to appeal to boys as well as girls, with dolls like Calin Sky). For instance, the Babipouce Pink Striped doll and the matching Corolle Babipouce Blue Stars boy doll are small, plump, and lightweight – perfect for an infant to snuggle! The super-cute Mon Premier Bebe Bath Baby will appeal to older toddlers, especially since she can accompany them into the bathtub (she floats, and her beanbag body is designed to dry fast). And the gorgeous Mon Bebe Classique Graceful Pink Baby Doll is suited beautifully for more realistic play with your preschooler, with eyes that open and close, clothing that can be removed and switched out, and a thumb that fits perfectly into her little mouth.
Kidoozie also makes a variety of sweet baby dolls, with a variety of accessories to add realism to playtime: the Kidoozie Snug & Hug Baby Doll has a bottle and removable clothing, and the Kidoozie Cozy Cutie Pack ‘n Play Baby Doll Set comes with a wheeled storage case. For no-hands traveling with dolls or stuffed animals, the Corolle Baby Sling Soft Carrier and the Ergobaby Doll Carrier let your child carry his “baby” just like Mom!