Baby Dolls for Kids
This post has been written in collaboration with pediatric speech-language pathologist Katie Yeh () and clinical psychologist Laura Hutchison (). Thank you for your wonderful contribution, ladies!
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The baby doll is such a fantastic toy that we hope ALL children (Yes, even BOYS!) will have the opportunity to own and play with during the toddler years. This is because baby dolls are packed with potential for teaching children about themselves and the world around them. Let’s take a look!
Cognitive, Fine Motor, & Self-Help Skills
Baby dolls offer kids lots of opportunities for developing their cognitive, fine motor, and self-help skills. Kids often find it easier to practice these skills on someone (or something) else before they can apply them to themselves. And because boys often develop some of their fine motor and self-dressing skills later than girls, it’s important for them to be exposed to more opportunities for practice. For example:
- Dramatizing using a doll: Around two to three years old, children typically begin to act as if their doll can see and interact with them. They may link several actions with the doll in sequence such as feeding the doll, bathing the doll, and then putting the doll to bed. This sort of pretend play is a hugely important part of their cognitive development.
- Removing clothes: Though some clothing items are easier to remove than others (like those baby socks that never stay on their little feet!), kids often benefit from trying it out on a doll before doing so for themselves. Taking clothing off is usually mastered before putting it on and includes removing items such as hat, socks (pulling from the top rather than pulling on the toes), shoes, shirt, using a pincer grasp to unzip, pulling down pants, and unbuttoning large buttons.
- Putting on clothes: Getting clothes on can be tough and is typically MUCH easier when first practiced on a doll. Some common clothing items kids can practice on dolls and themselves include placing a hat on their head, zipping with some assistance, putting shoes on, pulling pants up, putting on a shirt, and buttoning large buttons.
- Using both hands in midline: This skill is expected to emerge around a year and a half and tends to coincide with the development of skills such as zipping/unzipping or holding the doll while pretending to feed it.
- Feeding: As children’s pretend play skills develop, so do their self-feeding skills! Playing with a baby doll gives them the opportunity to practice appropriately holding and using feeding items such as spoons, bottles, cups, forks, bowls, etc.
- Bathing: Kids can practice giving their doll a bath (with pretend water if the doll is not allowed to get wet)! This is great for practicing sequencing skills (first fill up the tub, then put on shampoo, then rinse hair, etc.). I have also used dolls in therapy to help kids move past their fear of bathing by having them help me give the doll a pretend bath using all the necessary supplies (so they get used to the sensory experience from the water, shampoo, etc. and can have more control over the experience). We talk about the supplies needed and the steps taken during bath time, and then they can narrate the steps and comfort the doll during “bath time” while playing out a simple or elaborate pretend narrative. (A plastic Potato Head also works great for this experience.) Parents have been so proud when their child eventually agrees to get in the bath after practicing with the doll for weeks on end!
- Grooming & Hygiene: Dolls provide the perfect opportunity for practicing grooming and hygiene skills such as brushing hair, brushing teeth, and washing hands.
- Potty training: While I don’t have a lot of experience on this front (yet!), a child with an active imagination can really benefit from using a doll to help with potty training. While skills such as indicating discomfort over soiled pants and sitting on a potty chair with assistance are skills a child must develop in him or herself, they can be played out on the doll either by the caregiver or the child him/herself. For example: “Uh oh! Baby has a wet diaper! He feels yucky”, or “Okay, Baby, time to sit on the potty!”
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I didn't want kids2007-11-06 13:54:42 by frequentrider
For years. I had never even held a baby until my own. I didn't really play with dolls, and to me Barbies were only good for riding the toy horses I had. I had a real horse too, so playing stable and rancher was much more fun than playing house.
Before my husband and I got married, we talked about kids. As I had gotten older, I realized that I did want them, just not at the moment and until we were financially stable. He had always wanted kids.
Not too long after we were married, we were being stupid one night (don't know which night HA!) and I got pregnant. And you know, it wasn't that stressing
Taggies Developmental Baby Doll
Baby Product (Mary Meyer)