Why children love dolls
Toy trends come and go, but dolls have for many years been, and are likely to continue to be, mainstays in the toy box.
There are many different types of dolls, which have all stood the test of time, largely because they all offer different benefits and attractions to children, but ultimately, all dolls offer children one of their favourite play types – role play. There are many benefits of role play for child development, which you can read about here.
Many dolls are based on young children or babies, making them relatable for children, their friends, families and lives. For example, Lottie dolls are based on nine year-old children, thus providing a realistic toy that can be involved through play into stories, scenarios and relationships that are familiar to the child.
Quite often one of the biggest attractions for youngsters is the accessories that come with the dolls, which allow them to dress the doll, write in their secret diary, play with their hair, etc; which are often the things they enjoy in ‘real life’. A Girl For All Time offers girls the opportunities to develop empathy with children throughout history through the historically accurate design of the clothes and accessories.
Bonnie and Pearl offers lots of different outfits for their dolls, allowing children to update the look and style of their doll, often choosing dolls that look like themselves and dressing them in clothes they would like to wear. This helps children relate more to the dolls, making them really effective play things for helping children make sense of their world and experiences.
Baby dolls are very popular with young children as they begin to understand nurturing and caring for others. Baby Born and Baby Annabel offer dolls with lifelike interactivity, such as drinking, nappy wetting and crying real tears, which bring the nurturing play to a new level. Many of these dolls have a range of clothing and accessories, adding to the play value. Baby dolls are often valuable in helping children prepare for the arrival off a new sibling as children can copy parents' actions when feeding or changing the baby.
Rag dolls offer children a comforting toy, something they can both play with and cuddle, offering a toy for a number of different needs. Children often become very attached to soft toys, largely due to the familiar smell that they hold.
Small world dolls
Many slightly older children will enjoy playing with small world dolls such as Polly Pocket as they enjoy entering into the world of the dolls, playing with their houses, cars, towns, etc.
Barbie, Bratz and Monster High are evergreen fashion dolls, popular largely due to their aspirational ‘lifestyles’ and fashion. Barbie has a range of different careers, appealing to young children and Monster High and Bratz offer a fantasy world which nurtures young children’s imagination.
Many companies are now offering a more diverse product range than the traditional white, female dolls. For example, Baby Born has added Baby Born Interactive Boy and Baby Born Interactive Ethnic. Others are designing their dolls based on more realistic children’s bodies. Lottie dolls are based on a nine year-old child’s body, and are age appropriate in that they do not wear make-up or jewelery.
A more realistic and gender neutral approach to dolls is important in ensuring all children are included in the option to play with dolls and none feel excluded. It’s also helpful for children to have a number of different dolls in order to understand the diversity within their culture and to have realistic role models within play.
This post was written by Dr Amanda Gummer