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Why you should let your son play with dolls

Despite our best attempts to raise open-minded, culturally sensitive children, we will inevitably get the questions from strangers (and family members, mind you); "Isn't that a girl's toy?" when they see a boy playing with a doll. 

The answer to these questions can be as straightforward or complicated as you want them to be, but playing with dolls has great developmental benefits for our kids - just as much as playing with trucks or car toys has for both genders. 

One thing to keep in mind when your child shows an interest in a baby doll is that our babies model the behaviour they see and emulate the things they experience. When your baby chooses to play with a doll, it's most likely because he sees you take care of him, and he is trying to copy that and isn't imitation the highest form of flattery?

Here are seven important lessons your baby (girl or boy) can learn when playing with dolls:

  1. Playing with dolls helps develop imaginative play. Pretending to wash, dress or feed the doll can spark your baby's imagination and encourage individual playtime. 

  2. When you play together with a doll, it's an excellent opportunity for language development. Take the doll on a walk and ask your baby what he thinks the doll is seeing. A tree? A cat? A big truck going vroom! Your baby will feel like a participant in this fun language lesson instead of a student.

  3. Despite our best efforts, our children will face playground bullying. Playing with a doll is a great way to teach empathy and show what it is like to care for someone else.

  4. Dolls become our baby's sidekick! Forming a bond with a doll brings comfort and can help your baby feel a little braver when facing new situations.

  5. Any toy is an opportunity to learn through play. Most baby toys develop fine and gross motor skills and hand-eye coordination, and a doll expands that learning experience.

  6. Dolls teach responsibility. You'll find most babies covering their dolls with a blanket or pretending to feed them even from a very young age. These actions are not only super adorable, but it shows that your baby is developing the ability to think of someone else's needs and try to address them.

  7. There doesn't have to be something like "girl" and "boy" toys. This is a big lesson to try and teach your little one, but introducing all toys from a young age will give your baby the confidence to try new things and play with toys that seem fun to play with. Whether these are pink fluffy cats or big monster trucks, your baby should have the freedom to choose and to choose what will bring them joy. You will find that most kids naturally gravitate towards more traditionally gendered toys, so you don't have to add a barrier to their playtime.

Did we convince you to get your son a doll? No? Don't worry! You're not a bad parent or limiting your son's development. Instead of getting him a baby doll, why not consider a puppet or stuffed dinosaur? He will still learn all the above lessons with any "doll" he cares for.

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