When making an investment in children's toys it's worthwhile bearing in mind how children actually play to make the purchases the most rewarding. Nobody wants to part with hard earned cash on a toy that will languish at the back of a cupboard. We have leveraged our experience and knowledge to help you make the best purchasing decisions with your finite cash, in these 8 doll play focused steps.

1. All about the doll

Finding the right doll is covered elsewhere, this is about why a child would be most likely to choose to have another doll from the finite amount of cash you have to spend on their toys.

In our experience, if you ask a child what they want they typically say a doll. If they already have a doll you might have been hoping for them to say 'doll clothes' or something along the lines of accessories for their doll.  Trust us, the majority of children will still want another doll long before they want anything else. Why is it they want a doll when they already have one?
Doll play is a social activity, at the very least it is social for the dolls. For stimulating play there needs to be at least two dolls that can play with each other while the child creates the personalities, and develops the story. This is what children instinctively know.


All the clothes in the world wouldn't matter to us if we didn't have friends!

If a book had just one character how good would the story be?

With more dolls the play can be so much more absorbing.


how do children play with dolls


2. What's a doll to wear?

The doll is probably wearing a lovely outfit on arrival, but can it wear  this outfit for all the activities it will play, and is that what we'd do?

That's doubtful, as a doll needs to go to bed, play sport, go to school, play outdoors, go on holidays etc.

So, pick a selection of clothing along the lines of what the child's own activities are, as well as for the routines such as going to bed and relaxing at the weekend.

how children play with dolls


Bear in mind the seasons, and have something for the doll to wear be it fair weather or foul...


doll clothing for kidz 'n' cats and gotz dolls



Keep in mind clothing for celebrations, as the beloved doll will always turn up in the family photo.


Old photo of children and dolls at Christmas


3. Always a good hair day 

One of the main activities of doll play is hair styling. For example, it always has to be done after a new outfit is put on, because undressing and redressing a doll messes up the hair!
Styling doll hair is thoroughly relaxing and enjoyable. There's very much a sensory aspect to playing with doll hair that is soothing. While a child is hair styling they'll be thinking about the story they're about to create; not about the physical dexterity that's improving while they play.
Investing in some doll hair styling products is a great investment in keeping the treasured doll looking its best. As hair styling is an all year round activity anything you purchase in this category is sure to gets lots of use.

4. Dolls on (school) hols

It's important to invigorate doll play in the holidays as it can occupy them for days, if not weeks with just their imagination and a few props.
A couple of ideas are:
i. crafting something that's doll size and there are some fabulous ideas at Doll Diaries for what you can make for dolls
ii. buying a little accessory to relaunch an interest. Who hasn't bought a new top and looked in the wardrobe at home to pull out all the skirts and trousers it will go with?
During the school holidays many dolls become frequent flyers and travel to faraway places for skiing holidays throughout winter months, and beach resorts in the summer. There's a great selection of doll accessories and clothing for each type of holiday.
While other dolls stay home and use school holidays to horse-ride, roller-skate, practise for ballet grades or ride in the front basket of a bicycle! The best way to occupy children in the holidays is to reinvigorate play that they will enjoy by themselves, or with their friends. Bringing the enthusiasm and renewed energy to play can be done in many ways.
Creative play centres around what the child knows and it's from this anchor that the imagination flourishes.

Children choose doll accessories to make their ideas authentic to enable them to develop their story.

doll hobbies and sports

 5. My home is my castle

Children only need a box to make a home for a doll, but what goes inside the box is created by the imagination. A child's goal is to create a home that it would love, then to put a doll inside it and play! It's quite simple. Children build houses from floor space, upturned laundry airers and cardboard boxes; so don't be afraid to improvise and let children improvise - after all what we're wanting from them is to engage their imaginations, and to think outside the box! Life skills that you cannot buy in a shop. We purposely don't sell a large range of doll furniture for this very reason; we sell only that which enhances play.
Nothing more is needed than the warmly dressed group of dolls for outdoor play - just an imagination.
We do have doll sledge seats though - how much fun could that be?

6. A dog is doll's best friend (and other animals...you get the idea)

Doll pets are great for story-making. Is a new puppy joining the family? A poorly cat may need a trip to the vet's to get better.

Children come up with all sorts of injuries, medication and rehabilitation for their pets. They care for their pets and nurture their well-being. It's an association they have with their own pet that they transfer to the interaction of their dolls, and their dolls' pets.

doll pets

7. Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen

Children need time to play to process their world and handle their stress.  So, on particularly timetabled days free play is vital. There are children whose vivid imaginations are most creative in a fantasy world.  They're drawn to the ethereal and the beautiful. Fairies, unicorns and magic are what makes them happiest and most creative. It so absorbing to believe in this world and a true gift to be able to develop a storyline, when there's nothing 'real' to anchor it to. Think JK Rowling -  what a creative genius!

dolls fairies and unicorns for fantasy play

8. Events & Celebrations

Throughout the year there are many events and celebrations: birthdays,  first day at school, religious festivities...are just a few.

Celebrations and milestones are things we can remember from our own childhoods. The friendships we made,  experiences we had with people and the emotions we felt at the time are all things we can recall. Sometimes we continue to process all these experiences as we travel through life and take a look at the event with more mature eyes.  Children frequently use real situations as background for their stories and as they play they process what has happened, creating sometimes new endings for how it might have been different.

Occasions are opportunities for children to ask questions and learn more. All the time they play they are developing their imagination and expressing opinions and ideas. Childhood isn't a race, it's a time for development of the inner and outer self.

In the shop we split the toys into themes for the kinds of activities that interest children. Examples are: school, sleepovers, dance, Halloween, horse-riding, birthday parties, magic etc It's a great way to shop to ensure there are a few props to energise a child's story-telling.

The wide variety of toys and accessories enables a child to imagine a doll's future, and perhaps their own. Dolls become doctors, vets, entrepreneurs, horse-riders, ballerinas, party hosts- the list is endless! Naturally language skills, cognitive behaviour and social skills develop too. So when you shop, bear in mind these sorts of play activities, in particular your child's passions, and your money will be well spent.