Playing with baby dolls helps children gain a better understanding of themselves and the world around them. It’s a type of pretend play where they model what they’ve seen or what has been done to them or to their sibling. By rocking, changing and feeding their dolls, children practice how to take care of a loved one and that helps develop their sense of empathy and responsibility. Playing with dolls is considered as a holistic activity because it involves using both sides of the body, thus helping to develop bilateral coordination and the brain.
Although, some traditional beliefs dictate that dolls are toys mainly for girls, today it’s well-known that playing with dolls can help your child’s development no matter their gender. So, you can freely buy a baby doll for your son too, apart from all the other toys for “boys”. So, let’s see why kids should play with baby dolls.
Learning How to Get Dressed
Children learn best through play and by playing with dolls they can learn a lot of things which they can actually put into use in their own lives. One such example is learning how to get dressed. It’s a lot easier for kids to practice this skill on someone else before trying it on themselves. Boys often develop their fine motor and self-dressing skills later than girls and that is why it’s of great importance for them to be exposed to more opportunities for practice.
There are some clothing items that are easier to remove than others, like socks for instance. This is probably why socks never stay on their little feet. But putting on and even removing items like pants, shirts and jackets really present a struggle for kids. So, make sure to get a variety of baby doll clothes for your child to practice with.
In the beginning, it will be much easier for children to take the clothes off the doll than putting them on. At first, you might want to let them experiment with simpler garments like dresses, hats and socks. After you’ve noticed that the child has no problem removing these items, let them move onto unbuttoning large buttons, using a pincer grasp to unzip, taking off shirts and pulling down pants.
Next comes the more complicated part – getting clothes on. This is something that every parent has struggled with, knowing that most children enjoy running around without clothes, living their freedom. However, if they’ve practised on dolls, getting clothes on can become a source of joy for your child, especially if you buy the same clothes for them as well as for their doll. Just imagine the smile on your little girl’s face dressed up in the same dress as her favourite doll, wearing her around, feeling proud that she already has a best friend. Isn’t that priceless?
In addition, playing with different baby doll clothes can also develop kids’ sense of style. They get to play with different colour combinations, pick out outfits they love rather than something that their parents arranged for them. So soon, your child might even surprise you by picking up appropriate outfits on their own. If it’s rainy, your little girl will want to dress her beloved doll in a raincoat so she doesn’t get a cold, or if there is a party she will pick the most sparkling outfit so her doll is the most beautiful there. Choosing different baby doll clothing is good for building confidence in young children and that’s certainly a great benefit.
Developing Social Skills
As they play with a doll, children get to practice and develop crucial social and emotional skills. While feeding their dolls, or changing their nappy, or putting them to sleep, they show empathy and care. They just see the way we treat them and they are doing the same thing to their dolls.
This is a great way for them to practice how to look after something or someone. Doll play will help them to learn about nurturing and caring, re-enact interactions with their family and friends and prepare for a sibling or a pet. Just as kids copy their parents and learn new things with kitchen pretend play, doll play is no different. It’s their way of understanding various social connections and behaviours by practising these everyday events.
Building Language Skills
Playing with dolls can help children use and improve their language skills. You can start teaching your kid about the body parts of a doll. Your child will learn at least a dozen new words such as eyes, mouth, ears, tummy, knees, toes and so on, just looking at the doll and comparing her with other people. That way, your kid will practice labelling this vocabulary on other people too. In other words, your child will understand that “mouth” refers to all faces and not just to the thing on their own face. Then, you can start using the baby doll clothing that you’ve purchased in order to develop your child’s fine motor skills, but now to help them build their vocabulary on clothes.
Anyway, after your kid learns all these words, they can start learning more complex things like prepositions, verbs, answering to questions etc. You can use other toys related to a doll, like a blanket or a bed and that way your kid can easily learn to say that the doll is “under the blanket” or it’s “in the bed”. Moreover, playing with a doll will help your kid to learn a lot of verbs like eat, drink and sleep.
If you want your child to learn how to answer different questions, you can start asking them a bunch of questions to work on their understanding of these words while he plays. That way your child will learn to answer to things like: “Where is the doll’s nose?” or “Why is the doll crying?”, etc. So, when your child learns all these basic words and phrases, they will start using the language by talking to the doll, asking her questions and answering them. That way your child will start processing language with their own head.