As the mother of a son, I’m lucky enough to not have to worry about whether I’m accidentally pushing him away from math and sciences or deal with the princess thing, but I still think it’s important to keep an eye out for gender-specific assumptions. Girls should get t-ball sets for birthdays and boys should get role-playing pretend toys too. We got him a play kitchen in the spring that has been a huge hit, and now I’d like to get him a doll. He has a beloved puppy that is practicing potty training along with the rest of us, and a teddy that has to wear a pair of undies and t-shirt to go outside, also like the rest of us. I think it’s time for a human-like doll.
Why a doll? I want us to have a mechanism for practicing and discussing gentleness, empathy, care and being a kid. A doll can help us practice using the potty, or talk about being scared, or just be around when the day hasn’t gone so well. Much like I teach my son appropriate outlets for his frustration, I’d like to give him a tool for expressing feelings and experiences if he can’t do so directly.
So, a doll. For a boy. Turns out this isn’t the easiest shopping search. Like with the play kitchen, I am frustrated by the gender-specific choices made my toy manufacturers and especially those who sell through typical bricks and mortar stores. The “girl aisle” at Target has the dolls and kitchen equipment and is pink and sparkly; the “boy aisle” has trucks and balls and is not. Perhaps we’d all stop shopping online so much if the local options were better. [Ahem. End rant.]
1) HABA 12″ Doll Little Scamp Michael, 2) Haba 12″ Soft Doll ~ Lukas - Lukas and Michael are both toddlers, which I like, but a bit small at 12″. Neither really matches my son’s coloring, which isn’t a deal breaker but would be nice. The pictures lead me to believe the shoes and clothes are easily removable (great for role playing getting dressed in the morning, or undressed for a bath) and the price isn’t terrible.
3) North American Bear Company Rosy Cheeks Baby Tan Boy - Though I’d prefer a toddler boy over a baby boy, this doll gets good reviews, is all cloth, and has options for skin color. It’s a very nice size and has individual fingers and toes (good for discussing bonks and ouches), plus the price is great.
Waldorf dolls are really beautiful, generally handmade and use all natural materials. They have very non-specific expressions to allow for imaginative play and are really really cute. They are also very expensive.
4) Magic Cabin Dolls - This doll comes in both 12 and 16″ sizes and is on the lower end of the price range for Waldorf dolls.
5) Rubens Barn Cosmos Dolls - Along the same lines, these dolls aren’t too expensive relative to other Waldorf style dolls and have really cute personalities. Their expressions aren’t as neutral as Waldorf principles might insist, but the adorableness factor is really on their side. I’m not sure whether I care about a weighted bottom or prefer not to have one (they help the doll sit).
6) Rubens Barn Original Dolls - At 19.5 inches tall, I think these are too big for my short toddler to lug around, but might be a good option for older or taller kids. As with the Rubens’ Barn Cosmos, they have weighted bottoms and smiley expressions.
So many options! I’m still debating the relative benefits of a weighted bottom, simple hands and feet versus individually outlined fingers and toes, and whether I really need it to be anatomically correct (more on that later). I’m a terrible waffler so this debate might last a while.
In the end, I suspect I’ll spend the money on a Waldorf-style doll (or maybe even DIY!) because I like the neutral expressions and natural materials, but I am still considering one of the Haba dolls because of the price and chance that my kiddo won’t take to the doll like I’d hoped.
Do you have recommendations on life-like dolls in general? Mamas of boys, have you given your boys a doll? Why or why not?