Baby Dolls have been a part of children’s lives as far back as the Ancient Civilisations. Roman children would dress their dolls in the fashion of the times, much like children do today.
Greek dolls, around 2000 years ago, were made out of clay and had movable arms and legs. Dolls are the primary candidate for the earliest known toy, with Egyptian paddle dolls found in tombs dating back as far as the 21st century BC.
Throughout hundreds of years they have been playthings, spiritual protectors and collectables. Nowadays not only do we value dolls as wonderful toys, that provide hours of entertainment for children of all ages, but also as tools to assist with our children’s development and early learning process.
Learning should be fun
Young children love to play, it’s what they do best. While playing with dolls your child will naturally discover and take part in ever more imaginative role-play. Young children have active imaginations and love to copy what they see the adults around them are doing.
Learning how to play at Mommie teaches them about caring and develops nurturing instincts. Dressing dolly encourages the development of fine motor skills. Not only this, but the more obvious benefit of teaching your child skills such as tying their own laces or learning how to do up buttons.
When learning and play are the same thing your child stays more engaged and is more open to this natural learning process.
The benefits and how they affect your child
The benefits of playing with dolls can be pretty wide ranging. From the obvious to the more subtle, playtime may be having a more profound affect on your child than you realise. What might be a simple game of “changing the baby” or “going to the shops” actually has far more going on than simple fun entertainment.
Below we list some of these positive influences, and then go on to explain what they are and how they can affect your children for the better.
- Improves gross and fine motor skills.
- Encourages nurturing play.
- Helps to develop and improve vocabulary.
- Allows for a wider range of role-play.
- Helps to understand and cope with strong emotions.
Helps with the development of motor skills
Motor skills are actions and movements that are carried out by muscles. They are broken down into two sub-categories:
Fine motor skills
This involves the smaller movements that the body makes. Including movements that occur in the wrists, hands and fingers. They participate in smaller, targeted actions such as picking up an object between the thumb and forefinger, Writing carefully or doing up the buttons on a cardigan.
Gross Motor skills
This involves movement and coordination of the arms, legs, and other large body parts. They participate in larger more physical actions such as walking, crawling or moving larger objects around.
Motor skills help your child discover the world around them. By the age of one they will be able to identify objects based on their shape, weight and size.
With the hands-on play offered by baby dolls your child learns that some objects are heavy (the doll or some of their playsets) some objects are small and light (dolly clothes and shoes) and that each require a different amount of force to manipulate them.
Children can further develop their fine motor skills with more complicated tasks, such as:
- Changing baby dolls diaper.
- Doing up buttons or poppers.
- Tying shoelaces.
Gross motor skills are developed during actions such as:
- Pushing a baby doll’s buggy.
- Transporting dolly around the house in a baby carrier.
- Pushing dolly on a swing.
Motor skills develop naturally and are shown to improve with the right stimulation and encouragement. There is no downside to giving your child the tools to help them with this development in a natural and fun way.
Encourages nurturing play
What’s the first thing a child normally does when they are first introduced to a new baby doll? Thats right, they will cuddle their new “baby” The instinct to care and nurture is strong in the young and baby dolls are the perfect toy for them to explore this side of their emerging personalities. Help to develop your child’s natural caregiving instincts with activities such as:
- Getting ready for bed
All of these activities foster gentle and nurturing behaviour. A doll is a great way of introducing young children to the idea of a new baby around the house. By showing them how to care for the new arrival they can feel more a part of this exciting time. Getting baby doll ready for bed can be a great way to calm your child down after a long day. While they soothe their own “baby” they are gently getting themselves ready for bedtime.
Helps to develop and improve vocabulary
Later on in life the importance of strong communication skills can not be understated. How we communicate with each other is one of the cornerstones of our society.
From an early age, playing with baby dolls can be used to introduce various new words in a fun and natural way. Often when your child is playing you will hear them speak to their baby dolls. This process of explaining what they are doing out loud allows them to practice these new words and also teaches them to understand context and sentence structure.
When playing with others, children will discuss, debate and reason with each other. All of this is practice for the adult world, good communication skills are an invaluable skill to possess, benefiting you in all aspects of life from employment to relationships.
Two of the most obvious benefits of an improved vocabulary are:
Being more able to communicate clearly with those around them and to explain their wants and needs allows children to feel more confident when interacting with adults or their peers. Talking to their baby dolls allows children to practice conversations they might see themselves having. With many of these scenarios played out in their heads already when it comes to having a real conversation with an adult or friend, children can be more confident in their ability to interact with others.
Helps them to better understand the world around them
Being able to describe the objects around them or to interact in many different scenarios helps younger children to gain a better understanding of the world around them. Having conversations with their baby-doll is a great way for them to explain what they see around them out loud. This helps make learning fun, and all kids love to have fun.
Fostering improvement in vocabulary and communication skills is an important part of any child’s early development. It is so important that anything that benefits this should be embraced. Playing with baby dolls will allow your child’s conversational skills to flourish and improve the way they interact with the world around them.
Role-play options are greatly expanded
Role-play is an incredibly important part of a child’s early development, the effects of which can not be underestimated. A baby doll allows for a wider range of imaginative play.
Additionally the many playsets available to compliment your child’s baby doll expand, yet again, the scope for interesting make-believe play.
From a visit to the Doctors to getting baby ready for bed, role-play teaches children about real world situations and how these scenarios are expected to play out.
Likewise when playing with others role-play fosters interaction and conversation between children, and a dolly helps to facilitate many more make-believe scenarios for them to engage in.
Some of the more notable benefits of healthy role-play are:
- Develops communication and language skills.
- Develops social skills as children play with others.
- Encourages Imaginative play and promotes creativity.
The effects of high quality pretend play are far reaching. Playing with baby dolls teaches children a whole range of important social skills. As they play, children will:
- Assign or be assigned a particular role.
- Recreate scenes they see in everyday life.
- Discuss, create and adhere to the rules of the game.
Children are aware that to participate fully in the game they need to listen to others and collaborate together to reach the goals they have set themselves. This promotes the use of language to describe new ideas or rules for the game, listening skills, as they take on board what others say and promotes teamwork.
Children work together to achieve whatever goals they have decided on for their play session, completing these goals leads to a sense of achievement and self worth.
All this helps youngsters develop the skills they need to socialise and cooperate with those around them, teaching important communication skills that they will need as they grow older. Role-play readies young minds for the challenges they will meet outside their make believe world.
Teaches young children to understand a range of emotions
Emotions can be difficult to cope with as an adult. As a child strong emotions can be overwhelming and difficult to understand. Often children will act out difficult situations or confusing emotions using their baby dolls.
All parents have heard their child telling off their baby doll, perhaps mimicking what they were told earlier by their own Mommie. Even recreating arguments they have had with other children while playing has a positive effect, encouraging them to play out all sides of the argument and to understand other people’s point of view.
Play acting a scary situation such as getting an injection at the Doctors
Going to the Doctors can sometimes be scary for young children, likewise being told off can feel like an insurmountable problem.
Playing these scenarios out with their dolls allows children to better understand their fear of a situation.
Soothing dolly before her visit to the “Doctor” helps to alleviate the child’s own worries about that upcoming Doctor’s appointment. Scolding dolly allows your child to recreate situations where maybe they have been told off.
This teaches them to see things from your (the parent’s) point of view and allows them to work through their fears in a playful and safe way.
Replaying a social situation that confused them
The adult world can sometimes be confusing for young children. Children recreate situations that they are unsure of. This allows them to gain a better understanding of what happened. When the problem is shrunk down to a scenario they are playing out with their dolls it immediately becomes less threatening and allows them the time they need to understand it on their own terms.
Humans are an emotional bunch and for our young these emotions run bright and strong. Playing with dolls can also be used to address more difficult emotions. Maybe you are expecting a new addition to your family.
Baby dolls are an excellent tool for introducing the idea of a new baby brother or sister and all the emotional fallout that comes with a new baby in the house. Baby dolls can also be used to help explain loss. This might be the death of a family member or cherished family pet.
Healthy play can help your child work through the wide range of powerful and upsetting emotions that can be triggered in such a situation.
Who knew that playing with baby dolls can have such an impact on your child’s early development? From improving conversational skills to learning how to do deal with a complex range of emotions, the benefits are wide ranging and immediate.
From an early age children are preparing themselves for life in the adult world, a sometimes scary prospect. Playing with dolls helps them to understand the world around them and teaches them about many real world situations.
When learning is fun children take in all sorts of information without realising it, gentle encouragement of their development while they are enjoying themselves is a safe and effective way to mix fun and learning.
With the huge range of baby dolls and playsets available, finding the right toy for the right child has never been easier and with all the added benefits why wait to introduce your child to a new best friend.