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cc Child Development with Baby Dolls photo credit: Sandra Marek

Age Appropriate Dolls for Children

Dolls are one of the favorite toys that are loved by kids. In Ancient Egypt many discoveries revealed wood dolls, chiffon and terracotta dolls. But what do dolls provide children? Which dolls are appropriate for their age? Are dolls only for girls? What about Barbie type dolls?
Around 18 months your child will ask for a doll. At this age, they will imitate what they observe in their environment. Your child will brush the doll’s hair, just like Mom or Dad brushes her hair everyday. Your child will take care of the doll by holding, caressing and rocking like a real baby.
Your child will appreciate a simple and lightweight doll, easy for manipulation. The size must therefore be in proportion to the child, like a baby in the arms of his Mother. Your child will be attracted by infants and will most probably prefer a friendly smiling face; a doll that has hair, with eyes that open and close. It is not necessary for the doll to speak, laugh or cry.

What do Dolls Provide Your Child?

Around 2 years of age, the doll becomes part of an imaginary world for the child and is a key element in play. Your child will take pleasure doing things such as; cuddling, putting to bed, give a bath, walk the doll and make her sleep.
Your child will play make believe being Mom or Dad, pretend to feed the doll with invisible food or to wash the doll. By reproducing the gestures and the events on a daily basis with the doll, your child is experimenting the adult world.

At 3 years old, the doll will provide the possibility to reenact what your child is living, whether there are good or bad moments. He can also express feelings that he is experiencing such as tenderness, jealousy, joy and play down conflict situations by replaying the scenes with her doll. Also, your child will be more capable and competent to deal with the doll through the gestures and conduct. All this will help your child grow and build self-confidence.

The appropriate type of doll is the same one as 18 months, the first doll. Better to avoid dolls that are bigger than your child’s size as this distorts the dialogue. If the joints of the doll are flexible, your child can easily sit the doll, dress and undress with ease. The less the doll does, the more your child will be active and imaginative and playtime will be enriched.

From 3 to 6 years old your child develops skills that will enhance playtime. He can invent stories that are longer, more complex and with role-play such as, “ I will be the Mother and you will be the doctor.” Everything has meaning and the elements are linked with each other. While playing with the doll, your child will have tendency to reproduce what parents forbid him. For instance, “If you don’t eat your vegetables, you will not have dessert.”

During this phase, the doll represents a partner in the play world that is always available, docile and also the most discreet confidante. Your child may confide all his secrets. At bedtime, the doll’s presence will comfort your child.
After 3 years of age, playing with a doll becomes an important element in socializing since children love to play together with their respective dolls. The presence of other children enhances their play and helps in the development of social skills, like deciding the scenario, sharing accessories or taking into consideration the opinion of others.
Between 3 to 6 years old the ideal doll is the classic and solid one (Barbie type). Avoid a doll that is too complex your child will be prone diverting it from its apparent function and make use of it to his liking. It is preferable that the initiative to play comes from your child and not the toy.

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cc Child Development with Baby Dolls photo credit: marc falardeau 

Boys and Figurines

Boys love figurines of transformers, superheroes and dragons. Their use is different than dolls. Figures are engaged in action unlike dolls consisting of caresses, dress and taking them out for a stroll or tea party.
Boys need space to play the roles they are assigned with figurines. They also talk less but act and move around more. This type of figurines allows children to invent scenarios that stimulate their imagination. Boys aged three and more have lots of fun playing with figurines, as do girls, too!
If your son asks for a doll, don’t be afraid to give him one. He may enjoy feeding and bathing the doll. He has a right to be curious and use the toys that may not be intended for him just like girls who love to play with cars. Experts in child development consider that a variety of experiences should be offered to a child without pressure of gender typical behavior.
If the child seems to be interested to play with a traditional toy associated with the other sex-avoid creating a problem where there is not one!
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Filed under: Child Development

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