All children love playing with dolls of some kind and there is good reason for this. Doll play forms an important part of early childhood development and helps them to develop skills and learn through play.
So what exactly are your kids learning when they pick up their dolls?
When your child picks up her baby doll and pretends to feed it or rock it to sleep, she’ll also talk to it, sing to it and repeat the way she’s seen you acting with a younger sibling or copy mothers she’s seen on TV.
Older girls will use dolls to act out complicated scenarios, talking as multiple characters and building storytelling and imaginative skills.
Talking like this helps language development and helps to expand their vocabulary and improve confidence in speaking.
Dolls are also great for learning the names of body parts as you can point to eyes, ears, nose etc and get your child to repeat the name. You can also teach the name of different items of clothing and basic sentences and language concepts like “baby sit”, “baby in the bed”, “baby on the floor”, “baby cry”.
Doll play also involves dressing the doll, changing nappies, brushing hair and manipulating the dolls limbs to make them sit, stand, hold objects and so on that help to develop fine motor skills.
It’s often easier for children to dress a doll than it is themselves and practising on a doll is a great way for them to learn how to put socks on, put on a t-shirt and fasten buttons and zips. This in turn improves their independence so they’ll be able to get themselves dressed more quickly.
pretending to feed a doll involves holding a spoon and cup and again can help kids learn how to hold these items to feed themselves.
Pushing around dolls in a pram helps to develop gross motor skills, build muscles and improve coordination. A sturdy wooden doll pram is a great toy for a baby or young toddler to help them learn to walk.
Potty Training and hygiene
A doll is a great way to help kids start potty training, particularly the dolls that can drink water and wee it out again.
Choose a doll that comes with a toy potty as well as nappies and show her that the doll can sit on the potty so it doesn’t wet the nappy.
Dolls are great for acting out any kind of activity such as bathing, brushing hair or brushing teeth that toddlers often have an aversion to. After acting out the activity on their doll, kids are much more relaxed about brushing their own teeth and being bathed themselves. Bringing a doll into the bath so they can was together is also great fun and an amazingly effective way to get a water-phobic toddler into the bathtub!
Dolls are often used by psychologists when evaluating and providing therapy to children as they are such a great way to re-enact situations and talk about their feelings. A child may often say that their baby is cross or sad when they feel that way themselves.
Nuturing a baby doll helps to develop empathy skills and learn how to care for others. You can talk about how baby is crying because his nappy is wet or his hungry and how feeding him, changing his nappy and giving him a cuddle will make him happy again.
If you’re preparing for a new baby in the family, giving the older sibling a doll to care for is a great way to prepare her for the new arrival and learn more about how to take care of babies and what to expect when her younger sibling arrives. Kids also love caring for their doll alongside the real baby, copying mummy in changing nappies, bathing and taking baby for walks. buying a pram or doll carrier that looks like the real one is a great way to make your older child feel included in this time that can often be quite difficult emotionally for them.
A doll house is a must-have toy for any little girl and a good quality one should provide hours of play for many years to come. My daughter will quite happily play with her dolls in their house for a whole afternoon, rearranging the furniture and creating imaginative scenarios.
I also remember loving my doll house as a child – it was a Barbie house several stories high and was taller than me. It had a lift and a working shower and made me the envy of all my friends.
While you can buy some beautiful traditional doll houses, and the giant pink barbie versions, there are also lots of funky contemporary doll houses available these days that don’t look out of place in a modern home and are amazing fun to play with. These modern houses are also often more unisex than the girly looking traditional version so are great for both boys and girls.
Here are x gorgeous modern dolls houses for you to consider:
Lundby Smaland Doll House
Nobody does modern design better than the Swedes and this doll house by Swedish toy company Lundby is testament to that. The house is fitted with light fixtures that really work and the dolls and furniture are available separately.
Melissa and Doug Wooden Hi Rise Dollhouse
This is a simple sturdy wooden dollhouse with a modern look and feel. It’s one of the most gender-neutral houses on this list so is great for both girls and boys to play with. It has 6 rooms with an elevator and garage and includes 3 dolls and 15 pieces of furniture. As this doll house is designed in an open way, it can be played with from all sides with multiple children at the same time.
Plan Toys Chalet Dollhouse
This unusually shaped doll house in bright colours will inspire creative play for both boys and girls. The pieces can be taken apart and arranged in various different configurations. All furniture is included.
Playmobil City Life Modern Luxury Mansion
This doll house has funky modern architecture and tropical greenery. It also includes some modern and stylish furniture and accessories including a dining table and chairs, hidden safe, and a coffee table. There is a functional doorbell and it comes with 2 playmobil dolls.
Kidkraft Uptown Wooden Dollhouse
Another amazing modern style doll house from Kidkraft, which comes with 35 pieces of furniture including a working lamp, piano that plays music and a toilet that makes flushing sounds. Great for Barbie sized dolls.
Lundby Stockholm Dolls House
Another amazing modern doll house from Lundby. This one includes two outdoor terraces, a pull-out mozaic swimming pool, sliding glass doors and modern artworks in every room. Even better, the house is electricity-ready and can be plugged in for real working lights. The dolls, furniture and accessories are sold separately.
Kidkraft Modern Living Dollhouse
This 3-storey townhouse looks like so much fun you’ll be wanting to live in a real life-version. It has a pool with barbeque, lounge area with flat-screen tv, funky green sofas and balcony, bathroom with freestanding tub and a funky purple kitchen with silver stairs. The set includes 20 pieces of furniture and can be played with from all 4 sides – great for multiple kids to share.
Kidkraft Sparkle Mansion
This doll house is a little more pink than some of the other contemporary doll houses but it certainly has a modern vibe with it’s silver spiral stair case, glass lift and curved sparkle roof. The house includes furniture with a lamp that really lights up and piano that plays music.
Playmobil Take Along Dollshouse
This fun playmobil doll house can be folded up and carried with the attached handle so it can be easily taken to a friends house. It’s fully furnished and includes all pictured dolls and accessories. There is loads of detail in this house including tablewear, pots and pans, miniature play food, a baby bottle and more. Loads of opportunity for imaginative play.
So I thought I’d mix things up a little bit with today’s blog post by asking my 5-year-old to guest post for me… well sort of! I originally started this site because of my daughter and she loves dolls as much as any little girl so predictably, her Christmas wish list consists of mainly dolls and doll accessories. If you’re stuck for ideas of what to buy a little girl around the same age this year, hopefully this list should give you a few ideas.
And just to balance things up, we’ve included a few requests from her younger brother and some unisex toys that both boys and girls will love.
Disney Frozen Royal Sisters Anna & Elsa Doll
I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a little girl in the western world who doesn’t love Frozen and my daughter is no different. So it’s not too much of a suprise that the first thing on her list is “Anna and Elsa dolls”. This set of two dolls is amazing value considering that the separate dolls often come close to the same price anyway.
They’re about the same size as Barbie dolls about 10″ tall (Elsa is a little taller than Anna) so they’re fully compatible with all your existing doll houses, clothing and other accessories. They come wearing gorgeous sparkly gowns and crowns.
There are lots of cheap Chinese knockoff Frozen dolls around that will soon loose their limbs, tear their clothing and have hair falling out but these dolls are actually very high quality and licensed by Mattel.
Frilly Lily Cloth Doll Nappies
My daughter just had her birthday and asked for a Baby Alive doll, which of course we got for her as she wanted nothing else (she’d been watching youtube videos featuring this doll for a long time). This is one of those dolls that you can feed real water from a bottle and it wees.
It came with a disposable nappy and you can buy packs of replacements but of course after giving the doll one bottle it’s soaking wet and there’s only so many times you can dry it out and re-use it before it starts getting really filthy and the tape loses its stickiness.
That’s why I’m going to stock up on these cute towelling re-usable doll nappies that are suitable for any 14-18 inch baby dolls like Baby Born and Baby Annabell.
They can be washed and re-used forever, the velcro fastener never loses stickiness and they come in a range of different designs. I like the one pictured because it’s cute but not too girly so great if you have some boy dolls.
My Little Pony Rainbow Princess Sparkle
Now my little girl doesn’t just like dolls – she also loves My Little Ponies, just like I did when I was her age. She’s been requesting a Rainbow Dash for a while. Now this isn’t technically Rainbow Dash but I spent a long time looking at all the My Little Pony figures (which is very confusing as they all have slightly different brand names so they look like knock-offs even when they’re not) and all the Rainbow Dash dolls were kind of disappointing – small, boring, or had stupid plastic wings that would snap off in 2 seconds.
I think she’ll like this Rainbow Princess sparkles much better as it comes with a cool shimmery cape, shoes (shoes!) and lots of different hair accessories.
LEGO Classic Creative building Box
Ok onto some more unisex ideas. This is top of the Christmas list for both kids this year and really, you can’t go wrong with lego. This classic set goes back to basics (no girly lego friends here) and includes 580 blocks and pieces like windows and wheels to make all sorts of models, limited only by your imagination.
Honestly, I think every kid should have a large selection of Lego bricks and this is a great way to start off your collection. I’m really enjoying the fact that my kids are now at an age where they can enjoy building things with lego and I can also have fun helping!
Hot Wheels 10 Car Pack
Now I don’t want to get too off topic as this is a site about dolls after all, but just so my boy doesn’t feel left out (and just incase his grandparents are reading – wink!) here’s one for the boys. My son like most little boys loves cars and his current obsession is hot wheels.
There are all sorts of funky hot wheels race tracks you can get but he’s still at the age where he’s happiest racing them around the room so this multipack of cars would be pretty perfect for him. I’ve bought him quite a few of these little cars over the years and the Hot Wheels ones are great quality and last a lot longer than cheaper versions. Plus this multipack is great value for money anyway.