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.