Are dolls appropriate for one-year-olds?

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My baby is about to turn one and I've been looking online at lists of age-appropriate toys. Simple puzzles, shape-sorter toys, stacking toys, etc, all sound great — but dolls are also on the list. I'm not sure how I feel about that. She's so young!

The doll I was looking at is from a good toy manufacturer — one that made several of our favorite baby toys. But that doesn't change the fact that it's still a doll with little pink dresses. I'm afraid that it will be a stepping stone to more pink and all the dreaded princess crap. What have other Offbeat Mamas done? When did your kids get dolls? Did you find one brand to be less offensive/annoying than others? — Emily

Ariel's favorite is the Manhattan Toy Baby Stella Boy by Manhattan Toy… do you guys have fave dolls that one-year-olds and toddlers love?

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  1. Have you ever looked at Waldorf style dolls? I'm a product of Waldorf education and enjoy making the dolls myself (and also adoring the beautiful professionally made ones!). They can be a bit pricey because they're all hand made, but they're all pretty gender neutral, soft, unique dolls. They have different types for all ages, too…my mother made me one for my 3rd Christmas (age 3) and I still have her to this day!

    12 agree
  2. A doll is a blank slate. When I played with dolls as a toddler, I rarely (if ever?) played mommy. My dolls were my imaginary peers, or actors in dramas I made up while I played narrator/puppet master.

    And I second the comment about Waldorf dolls! They're awesome. When your daughter is old enough, you can make them together.

    8 agree
    • Not that there's anything wrong with playing mommy! As we all know, a mom is a perfectly cool thing to be.

      I think we're more worried about the pink princess crap. I'd say to avoid that, just don't give her a pink princess.

      4 agree
  3. My mom loves dolls so she always will give them as gifts. She gave my son a soft bodied doll when he was maybe 6 months old, and later gave him one that is all plastic and can go in the bath. I think it's a great toy for a baby to play with! He didn't care about playing with them until he was maybe 9 months old. He likes to point out the facial features, or make them clap etc. The one "bath baby" is naked and the other is just a plush body, so they don't really have clothes or wear dresses. I refer to them as if they were male. No real reason except that so many dolls are female. I think it's possible for either of my son's dolls to be gender neutral.

    1 agrees
    • I agree that a doll is perfect for children to point out facial features and for learning body parts.

      3 agree
  4. You're the mama! If it doesn't feel right to get your kid this toy, don't do it. But if it doesn't feel wrong, it's your decision to make.
    Maybe it's easier to convey to people in your life that you don't want to go all-out princess on your kid by choosing a doll that's dressed in colours other than pink, or maybe dressed in pants. Or a non-human doll, if you feel more comfortable there.
    And honestly? At some point in the future, other people are going to buy her dolls, in all likelihood. And they're going to be pink.
    At the age of one, I had a Rainbow Brite doll. Though other, pinker dolls came after, I can't help but imagine that she set the tone for the toys in my life in some way!

    2 agree
    • of topic, but when you mentioned non-human dolls, I thought of the Cabbage Patch dolls that were 1/2 human 1/2 cat or whatever.

      Also, I agree with your comments. The doll doesn't have to be all pink and frilly. You can just change the outfit.

      2 agree
  5. A doll is defined by how u preset it. I had a baby doll growing up, but he had a special outfit my mom made. She took one of those hooded onesies and fabric painted it into an astronaut suit. Instant fun different play pattern. At one though I would make sure you get something that will hold up well to washing. And if u don't feel comfortable getting a doll, don't! Maybe do a combo, get a wooden doll teather, you can find them on etsy

    3 agree
  6. When I was a little kid I didn't like baby dolls or girly dolls. I played with stuffed animals so much my grandmother got worried about me and told my mom not to buy me more stuffed animals so I would learn to like people =D
    I think stuffed animals are pretty gender-neutral, and they can be as toy-like or realistic as you want.

    7 agree
  7. My daughter had dolls at age one, but she was more into her stuffed animals. At that age they are starting to imitate what they see you do all day. If you tend to tote a laptop around, they will probably want a pretend computer. If they see you making meals in the kitchen, they may want to play with pretend food, or set their own table. If you're caring for a younger sibling, they may be interested in pretending to be a mommy or daddy. I think since my daughter is the first, and so far only child, but we have pets (a dog and two chinchillas), she was drawn to the stuffed animals to play with and care for because that's what she observed us doing.

    She actually only in the last week or so starting playing with one of her dolls, and I think it's because she started at a home daycare where there is a 8 month old. She's also two now, but I don't know if that makes a difference.

    2 agree
  8. I would say, don't feel like you're prescribing some kind of gender thing. There are a lot of neutral looking baby dolls that can be a lovey or something to pretend to take care of. My son had a doll around the same age and loved it (still does.) He also has a lot of other stuffed animals that he pretends to take care of, so I don't think a doll is a make-or-break situation.

    I bought my little boy's doll right around one year old. It was dressed in a green outfit, with a soft body. It was one of the first things he really pretended with, sometime between 1-2 years. He loved telling the baby that it was diaper changing time. He REALLY loved telling me that the baby hurt his head (you know, the center of a learning-to-walk toddler's world…)

    2 agree
  9. I am pregnant with my first but my mom got us a soft bodied doll for Christmas. He is soft, made from organic materials, wearing soft organic green clothes, African-American, and beautiful! I agree that the princess/pink/girly theme is so overdone, and we won't be indoctrinating our daughter with that. If she later chooses to love princesses (*squirm*), cool, that's her choice. When I was a baby/little girl, I LOVED baby dolls but hated princesses/pink/barbies. I would carry around 4-6 dolls at a time, playing "mommy". Your daughter might love it! It might not be her thing. Might be worth a shot, if it's the right doll :)

    2 agree
  10. I just want to throw out a recommendation for American Girl Dolls (even if they're not age appropriate for this post).

    If you ever want to teach your daughters (or sons) about diversity, feminism without being princessy, these dolls are it!

    Be warned, though, they're pricey. We grew up with them and collected them, and I still love & cherish them.

    8 agree
    • I just wanted to second this — though certainly NOT for a one-year-old! But although I owned Barbes, etc., the American girl dolls were the only ones I really played with growing up. I liked them because they were "people" not "babies" and I could talk to them, act out scenarios from books, etc. Plus I was really into history as a kid. I don't like the new ones as much though. And I'm trying to think, but I don't think I had (ok, have — I have 4 of them, but my 24 year old Samantha doll with matted hair and no eyelashes is still my favorite) a SINGLE pink dress for any of them!

      For a younger child, though, definitely a soft rag doll. Waldorf dolls are great! A doll with short or no hair (maybe a cap sewn on instead) and maybe even clothes that don't come off, is great for really little ones.

      4 agree
    • I still have my Addy doll from when I was a young girl! I had most of the book series but Addy was the only doll I got- hands down the best doll ever. I always had multi-racial baby dolls (I'm caucasian) and my dad would jokingly refer to them as my "vacation in st. barts baby" or something. As an adult I think he was actually trying to steer me away from my diverse little family of baby dolls, but it didn't work! My husband and I plan on having our own diverse family one day soon.

      3 agree
  11. Personally, I like dolls with stories of individuality, spunk and personality. Though she was in pink and purples, I chose the plush Rapunzel doll from Disney for my baby girl. Her grandpa really wanted to get her one and I like her the best because she was independent and stubborn (like my 6 month old). I know she's still half a year old, but she really is active and loves her stuffies. Another dolly of sorts i would recommend are Pookaloos, but probably for a younger age. Her favorite is her Kermit one, probably because he has skinny arms and is easy for her to grab.

    I would also recommend American Girl dolls for later on. I had them when I was younger, and still have them for my daughter when she becomes older. :)

  12. My daughter got her first doll this past Christmas which was also her 12 month birthday. I wasn't crazy about it at first but every time I went to pick her up from my workout center's babysitting room, she was holding onto one of the dolls there.

    I like to watch her play with it, because she's learning valuable skills. How to be kind, how to share with the doll, how to be gentle. I look forward to buying her a more diverse collection because I think it's a good way to teach her that not everyone looks the same (our area is not very culturally diverse). We have no plans to ever introduce any kind of princess crap to her, I think the two can be easily separated.

  13. My daughter really likes the LaLa Loopsey dolls. They are hard plastic–maybe not great for a one year old, but they have a lot of different colors in their outfits. They are also not baby dolls. They look like oddly shaped children–not a baby that you need to take care of. I like this better than the baby doll aspect because it is easier for my daughter to determine how she wants to play with it. I will warn you though, LaLa Loopsy is made by the same brand that makes the Bratz dolls, which I personally find deplorable. I decided that maybe if I give money for a specific line that is better than the others than they would put more money into that type of toy, but that's probably me trying to reason away a little bit of guilt.

    That being said, I think you should maybe look for dolls that are more unique–find rag dolls or less realistic dolls. Also, stuffed animals are great alternatives to dolls because you can take care of them, play with them, treat them like a baby/pet/friend. If you go the rote of something like Build-a-Bear, you can even have the fun of dress-up without the feelings of pushing your child into a parenting role.

    • I'm bummed to hear they're made from the same company as Bratz. I LOVE LaLa Loopsey dolls (they have such cool stories), I got the pirate boy as a gift from my husband (my roller derby name is pirate-y) and all my young friends (I watch a couple of 3-4 year olds some afternoons) love him.

      • I will never buy my daughter anything Bratz, but LaLa Loopseys are just too damn fun. I love that they have boy and girl dolls. I like the little animals. I love that all of the dolls have their own personalities and hobbies. So I'm just going to try not to have guilt about it.

  14. We bought our son a soft-bodied doll for his first birthday. He's dressed like a pirate! There are soft-bodied girl dolls that aren't necessarily "princess-ey", too. I looked and looked until I found a doll that I was willing to pay the price for and also not a "character". (Not that there's anything wrong with "characters". He loves his Pooh Bear!) The Haba toy brand have soft dolls that are in regular clothes that are at a good price point!

    Good luck finding what you're looking for!

    1 agrees
  15. i got my kid a doll for his first birthday. it was an anatomically correct baby doll with an uncircumcised penis. seven years later, "baby koda" is still and oft-accessed toy around here. his clothes have all been hand made by me and my kid.

    doll don't have to be about pink dresses! they are a tool for teaching little ones about empathy!

    1 agrees
  16. My mom bought the baby a doll from Haba last year, she's multi-ethnic and the baby seems to like her. She's in pants and a tunic and is not princess at all. Kinda nice. I cannot find a link (because the name of the doll escapes me, but this is close)-

    1 agrees
  17. Despite others gifts of dolls my daughter would rather play with stuffed animals, hand me down plastic farm animal and music toys (small tamborine, tiny guitar, egg shaker). She totes around a 8in stuffed giraffe everywhere. She "feeds" it, shares her sippy cups and snuggles it all night. The dolls get an occasional "ooooo baby" and a hug and then tossed off for another toy

  18. My daughter doesn't play with dolls at home; she just isn't interested. But she plays with them all day long at daycare. I think at daycare she is emulating me with her younger brother, but when she is at home with the real thing, she doesn't feel it's necessary to pretend that game. Anyways, dolls are awesome. It teaches kids about caring and love and kindness.

  19. How about Raggedy Ann/Andy? Though they have genders, they're pretty gender-neutral, dressed in red and navy and white (though a bit rah-rah America with that color scheme, I guess :)
    They also stand up to a beating/dragging from a toddler!

    2 agree
    • My son is almost a year and like the Raggedy Ann doll I had as a kid. :)

  20. My almost 1 year old son has several dolls of different sizes, most of them are caucasian, one is a darker skin tone. The caucasian ones are all clearly in feminine clothes, the darker skin toned doll is just in a diaper. I'm not terribly worried about it right now, but I am actively seeking out a couple of more dolls in different skin tones and in male and gender neutral outfits to add to his collection over the next year. He really likes all of them, he likes to point out the features on their faces while I name eyes, ears, etc. Of course at this point he also just carries them around by one leg and chews on their heads, but I'd be worried if he didn't : ) I think dolls are totally age appropriate and make great learning and teaching tools, but I also think it's important to have a variety of dolls available. It's perfectly fine to have a feminine doll in a pink frilly dress, even several, but it's even better to add a broad range of dolls to that collection.

  21. I love waldorf style dolls but didn't know of them when my now 6 year old was 1. I did, however, love the cabbage patch kids and how "normal" they were – ie, no pink, no feminine BS and no bratz hideousness :) Just neutral human shaped toys for a wee one to play with :)

  22. I don't know if I'm allowed to do this, but here are some links to show what I was talking about in my comment: and

    You can get patters to make similar dolls from Magic Cabin, but also ETSY is full of people who make dolls like this. I really would stay away from hair and removable clothing with a toddler, it can be a huge mess, plus I would worry about them choking on the hair, it WILL go in the mouth! Littles will carry/rock/nurse a baby doll like this, but they will also suck/teethe on it!

  23. My girls were given a doll at around one year old because they were so fond of the "babies" at playspaces we visited. Their cousin chose a dark-skinned Corolle doll with a soft body, and it was a hit. "She" was in a pink outfit, but that quickly got lost, honestly. We've since added a bunch of Groovy Girls, a pirate, a Baby Stella (as above) in purple…only the Princess Tiana baby doll another cousin gave us had any hint of princess at all, and that was easily fixed by removing the crown. Poof! Generic black baby in a green dress!

  24. Hi Everyone – this is the original poster's wife. Thank you for all the great suggestions and feedback. I must say I am more pro-doll than my wife, so I am looking forward to finding a mutually agreeable solution. I have a question about the Waldorf style dolls that many people have mentioned – do they have faces? The ones I am familiar with all do not, and while I support the concept, aesthetically I find them challenging.

    • There are many that have minimal faces but not expressions. The idea being that the child can then choose how the doll is feeling during pretend play, and they are more able to explore the full range of emotions than if the doll has a smile all the time.

      • I like the idea behind this, but also find the faceless dolls creepy. I've noted that even though my daughter's doll always has a happy face, my daughter feels free to say that the doll is feeling a variety of ways.
        We settled on HABA for reasons others mentioned: quality, reasonable price, not princessy.

    • If you make one, you can give it any kind of face you want. I tried to make mine expressionless, but it looks more like it's smirking. Lol. That's okay, that suits my son better anyway. It has eyes and a mouth, I didn't try doing a nose because I'm not that skilled of a seamstress.

  25. There are some beautiful cloth dolls on Etsy. Some are made to order so they can have the same colour hair or eyes or skin tone as your little one, even dolls with spectacles. Lots of options as far as clothing goes, and I didn't really notice many being pink and princessy.

    1 agrees
  26. My two year old is obsessed with dolls and she got her first around one year. We live near two toys stores that host the sing-a-longs and story times that we go to so she just discovered them on her own. I honestly tried to hold off on getting her a doll as long as I could but it seemed silly to deny her of something she was so interested in just because it wasn't MY thing.

    Her first doll was a Corolle Les Trendies with pink hair. Super cute.

    1 agrees
  27. I saw some adorable soft-bodied dolls at Ikea yesterday that had an assortment of outfits and came in several different ethnicities. They didn't strike me as being "girly" or "boyish," just cuddly and child-like. I think they were $10 each, so they might be a good option if you wanted to try a doll but not commit a bunch of money to it.

    1 agrees
  28. There are so many options out there when it comes to dolls, they don't have to be the pink-princess type. When my son was about one we bought him a doll to play with. He loved dressing the doll and it actually was a good way to introduce him to the idea of dressing himself. He's five now, and he still plays with his doll. We had kiddo #2 recently and he likes to copy what I do, he gets his doll and pretends its his baby to take care of.

  29. Some kids love dolls. Some don't. My daughter L.O.V.E.D. her dolls. Treated them like babies. Pushed them around in strollers. Talked to them. Played doctor with them. Kissed their heads. My son, on the other hand, liked to push his trucks around in the stroller. I don't think this has anything to do with being socialized in a particularly gender-rigid household at all, it's just what they liked. I say get her a doll, and if she takes to it, follow her lead. If not, don't push it. And I gotta tell you, if that pink princess crap is coming, it's coming, and there's not much you can do about it, unless you want to spend years 3 and 4 fighting about everything. To me, at least, it wasn't worth it. But the good news is that it disappears as fast as it comes.

    And I wouldn't worry about the outfit – my daughter's favorite doll (Murry, of The Wiggles provenance), one of those ones with hard arms and legs and a soft body, was perpetually naked.

  30. I gave my son a doll when he was about 13 months old. I dressed it in gender neutral overalls and he loves it – puts her to bed, carries her around, etc.

  31. I'm the oldest in my family and the first doll I remember receiving is the one my parents gave me at age 2 right before my brother was born to help me understand & get ready for the new (real) baby. I remember thinking of that doll as a boy…probably because of my brother! I remember it as fairly non-descript, but human looking. My mom made plain onesies for it to wear. I loved it because it looked similar to a real baby, which I wanted to emulate because we had a real baby at home.

  32. Every child is different and if your daughter ends up liking the princess stuff I bet you find it totally adorable because she is your child and what parent doesn't like to see their child full of joy. I have three kids and each one is totally different from the next. I have one extrovert who at six years old doesn't really even like toys. She would rather be talking and interacting with adults. Do what feels right for you and your daughter.

  33. My first birthday present from my maternal grandparents was a soft plush dolly with a pastel pink dress and frills. She was my special 'Didi' and I loved her to bits and still have her, though her arm is falling off, her head is held on with a safety pin and her second set of clothes (the ones mum made when the first lot began to fall off in rags) is threadbare. Despite the pink and frills, I was a complete tomboy. My 4th Christmas present was one of those rugs that have a city with roads etc on them so that you can drive your matchbox cars around it. My favourite colour was green, and I really really detested dresses and skirts. The only way I would happily wear a dress was if I was also allowed to wear my green tights with socks over the top so that I looked as though I had green legs.

    A doll, even one with a frilly pink dress and bonnet, isn't going to induce princess fever in your child. I think that really comes down to the individual child and their circumstances. Get her a doll. She might not even like it!

  34. My son has an anatomically correct baby boy doll that was mine as a child. Not sure about the plastics to be honest, but I'm hoping that a secondhand plastic doll is better than a brand new one as far as toxins go. The doll is well-made and I do notice that my son gravitates towards him more than towards stuffed animals, I think because he is so much more lifelike. He likes to point out his nose, ears, belly button and penis! The doll has been getting more and more play. At 12 months not so much but by now (17 months) he does carry him around, tries to dress him, and offers him sips of water and food. The cute could kill!

    Anyways, he is a boy doll who we dress in my son's newborn clothes and diapers. Toddlers like babies and it's an easy way to skip the pink fashion crap. Growing up, my grandma made my favorite doll clothes, which could be a good option for making your own gender-neutral (or just not crazy crazy pink) outfits for your baby's baby. :)

    • This is so cute! I don't think I've ever seen a baby doll with a penis. I must live under a rock…

      • My husband had one as a toddler in the 70s, which my mother in law held on to and eventually gave to my niece and nephew, and they destroyed it (innocently, as kids do) so we replaced it for her with another doll with a penis. They are kind of expensive but not really hard to find online.

  35. I work with young toddlers (ages 12 months to 18 months) and we have both baby dolls and soft bodied dolls, and the kids (both boys and girls) love them! It's a great way for little ones to begin to play pretend. They sit them in the high chair and pretend to feed them, lay them on the floor and rub their backs, rock them, talk to them, point out their eyes, nose, ears, hair, etc. Added to that, we have clothes for them in a wide range of colors-yellow and blue romper, blue pants and red shirt, pink dress, purple and red clown suit. The older toddler room even has a football outfit for one of their dolls! A doll does not make a child be into princess stuff. I had precious few dolls growing up, but was still a girly-girl. It was just my personality.

  36. I highly suggest you take a look at BlaBlaKids. They have a huge variety of soft bodied "dolls" and animals. They're super soft and come in different sizes. My daughter got her first (Prudence the Owl) at 9 months and then her second (Lola the Rocker) at 20 months and she loves them.

  37. The age of one might be too early for this, but it's something to keep in mind for when your child is a little older (or if you want to make it a mommy-and-me type project): When I was about six or seven I got a doll "blank" at a craft store – it was basically a cotton body with arms, legs and head but no face or hair or anything. My mom gave me some fabric glue, yarn and fabric markers and glued hair and drew the face on myself. That way you end up with a doll that represents whatever your kid wants it to look like!

  38. I'm here to say that even if your daughter does have a doll, she won't necessarily be thrilled with princesses! Now, granted I grew up in the time when not many princess movies came out (I was a lion king kid!), but I did own a Raggity Anne that my mom made, maybe 2 plastic baby dolls, a 'toddler' doll (she could wear real baby clothes and actually had hair), and eventually something like 7 barbies (most were hand-me-downs from my sister). I am currently going for engineering, I play trombone, and my favorite colors are blue and gray.

    Granted, I didn't play with the dolls too much, although I did enjoy changing their clothes. I preferred my stuffed animals, especially once I got to preschool age. To me, I made all my stuffed animals into people and had great adventures with them. Dolls to me weren't as fun because they were hard and weren't as fun to cuddle with.

  39. When I'm shopping with my baby we'll browse through the toy department and I'll make a mental note of what toys she will gravitate towards. I personally don't like the plastic electronic toy kitchens, but that's exactly what made her light up and giggle, so last Christmas that's what she got and it was a big hit!

  40. Waldorf dolls are hella expensive but would probably make you very happy. I could have never afforded to buy one so I bought a kit and made one. The kit cost $45 and after making it I see why the dolls are so expensive. It was fun though, if you can sew just a little, you can make one. I don't even try to make clothes though, I buy them on etsy. I made one for my son that looks like him. I'm thinking maybe he'll like it more if I commission a spiderman outfit for it. Lol.
    You can buy the kits at

  41. I love Moulin Roty dolls. Pricey, but well made, organic and SO cute (but not frilly cute). Bought my son the Koko la Lune doll and he loves it.

  42. Every child should have dolls! Boys and girls alike! A Doll is not a "girl" toy and it does not need to be a precursor to pink princesses. I had many baby dolls growing up, they were and still are favorite items of mine.

    A doll is part of the way that little children make sense of the world of grown ups, they play house, take on parenting rolls, play teacher, dolls are often integral to little children learning how to interact with babies and how to show compassion.

    Waldorf dolls are wonderful, I also like plain rag dolls made by many etsy sellers. My personal favorite dolls as a child were Cabbage patch kids. They had happy smiling faces, soft bodies to cuddle and many different outfits. You could also get boys and girls. The Cabbage patch kids nowadays are a little more gimicky than the ones from the 80's, but you can get beautiful quality ones on their .com site.

    3 agree
  43. My brother went to Germany over the summer and picked up a doll for my daughter while he was there. Even at only 3 months, she responded to the doll in a way I did not expect. I've always thought that children's reactions to toys are produced in large part by their caregivers' and/or peers' attitudes toward those toys. I was taken aback when my daughter seemed to like the doll right away, with no prompting! I think the doll's facial expression really interests/ engages her. Now, at 9 months, she's playing with it–she likes to grab it, bite it, smoosh (hug?) it, and carry it around when she crawls. I'm glad that she has it. It's nothing that I would have gotten her, but she really enjoys it. I don't think there's any harm in that. I'm certainly not going to push the doll onto her more than any other toy, but if she chooses to play with it, I'm not going to prevent her from doing so.

  44. all four of my kids have had dolls – 2 are boys. I also do daycare, and have literally watched at least 50 kids grow from infant to teen over the years. In my experience I can tell you that dolls can be anything really. As long as they have a head. My youngest son turned a rubber scary skeleton with a big head into his 'baby' and carried it around in a sling, fed it food, breast fed it (so freaking funny) pushed it in a stroller and crooned it to sleep. My oldest had a giant rag doll with long eyelashes that she was fascinated with. My oldest son however, transferred his affection to a small tiger with a body like a human (we named it Hobbes) and he still has pride of place on my 12 yo sons bed.
    Young children seem to do best with soft bodied dolls. You can get them with hard heads, they are easier to carry that way. But they also really really like the eyes. Don't get carried away by all the bells and whistles in a doll, get a soft comfortable bodied one with amazing eyes. Some kids like them just really big, but most seem to like the babies whose eyes can open and shut. My one year old niece and 4 yo daughter love my 4 yo's 2 'babies' who are both soft bodied, with eyes that open and shut and brown skin, though both girls are white. They just really prefer the brown babies. They leave them naked most of the time though my 4yo discovered that Tinkerbells outfit fits her baby so she does wear clothes occasionally. And this girl is as pink princess as they come. The one year old loves to play with opening and closing the eyes and leaving open mouth drooling kisses on the hard hard. My 4 yo 'parents' her baby and it's a good reflection of my behavior and makes me feel very proud to see her acting like such a good mum. My 2 yo nephew likes the rag dolls better, he drags them around, uses them for pillows, keeps them in his shirt, under his arm, or sitting on one while he rides his bike. We want our children to grow up and be adults with good parenting skills, even if they choose to not have children, and practicing from infancy is a good way to do so. Dolls are great toys for any children, it's just up to you to keep the pink princessy out of what should be just regular play with a toy. Dolls don't inherently bring that sort of mindset I promise.

  45. I would take the lead from your child. People gave me soft dolls when I was pregnant and they are in her toy basket in the living room but my daughter is never really interested in playing with them. Instead she focuses on things that make noise and rattle or blocks and of course her beloved Little People Zoo. I just kind of see what she's interested in and go with it…not very scientific but it works for us!

  46. My fifteen month old boy loves to play with his corolle doll. His is a small, cloth baby with plastic head/arms/legs that is just the right size for toting around. I don't think he's pretending to mother his baby – but he loves to make the baby imitate all the things he does: like stick the pacifier in and out of his mouth, pretend to brush his hair (also loves to brush my hair), pretend to wash his hands, and also sticks him in his push-wagon and drags him around the house. He also enjoys pointing to different parts of the face/body as we name them. I don't see anything creepy/gender oriented about those activities.

  47. Thanks everyone for replying! I hadn't so much considered what she could learn from dolls but from everyone else's experiences, I see that there are things she can learn besides pink, pink and more pink. Thank you especially for the doll recommendations. I really like the BlaBla dolls and we will be getting one for her in the next few months, at least before our #2 arrives in September.

    1 agrees
  48. I bought my daughter a cheap circle baby from target. The baby has no clothes on at all. My daughter has been mothering this baby since she was 9 months old. She gives her nursies, or insists that I do, and wants to wear her on her front and her back. She feeds her crackers and sits her in a stroller to go for a walk around the livingroom. She is 23 months now and the mommy play is still going strong. I would easily say its her favorite toy. She could care less about clothes for it, although she does occasionally ask for me to put a hopper (diaper) on it. I think any toy that teaches our babies kindness, caring and parenting skills is a good thing.

  49. My mom made sure all of us 5 kids had dolls, my two brothers included.
    Interestingly, my oldest brother JJ actually had the only baby doll. It was a plastic-limbed, realistic, soft-body doll that my mom had made herself. The great thing about that is that she was able to customize the fabric-really cool green floral. And JJ Doll's nails were painted. =) Such a pioneer!!
    My other brother had a shapeless bean doll we all called Aunt Gemima. She was featureless, stiff, and made of orange and black striped polyester, lol.
    I actually cannot remember my doll. Like another commenter, I had more of a fondness for stuffed animals. I remember a duck and a momma+baby ocelot set.
    Good times.

  50. My dad brought home a Rainbow Brite doll for me when I was one. My mom tried to say "No, she's too young for a doll" but my face lit up and I reached for it with a happy baby noise. I dragged that poor doll around with me everywhere, until I decided that I was too old for her and lovingly wrapped her up in scraps of cloth and entombed her in a shoebox.

    I watched the Disney movies growing up, played with Barbies occasionally, and still had no interest in being a 'pink princess.'

  51. Hi all,

    Not sure if this has been said yet (i glanced through all of the comments and didn't see this point mentioned) however dolls help facilitate the development of empathy. Empathy can be learned by children in other ways, however the critical period for a child to learn and understand empathy is between birth and three years.

    Dolls, stuffed animals, and age-appropriate figures help children learn the act of empathy and caring for others. Of course, for this reason it is very important that both boys and girls play with dolls :) To me, it is very unfortunate that playing with dolls has been deemed appropriate for girls and not for boys. Oh, western norms of socializing, how baffling you can be!

    You may want to try an age-appropriate doll or stuffed animal and encourage play. But, your child knows what they are interested in – maybe they simply won't be interested at all! You can't force a child to enjoy something they do not have any intrinsic desire for.
    If it makes your uncomfortable, then don't worry – model the practice of empathy and that will be great for your child as well :)

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