How Does Playing With Dolls Help a Child’s Cognitive Development




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Studies in human developmental science have shown that doll play can benefit children in numerous ways, from enhancing language skills to developing problem-solving abilities.

In this blog post, we will discuss the cognitive benefits of playing with dolls as well as explore different types of dolls and their various benefits for young minds.

We’ll also offer tips on how to incorporate doll play into your child’s routine and provide safety considerations when it comes to choosing the right toy for them.

Key Takeaways on Pretend Play with Dolls

  • Pretend play with dolls is a great way to help foster social and cognitive development in children. Through children’s play with dolls, children can learn important social skills, emotional intelligence and language development that will stay with them throughout their life.
  • Solo or join play with dolls can help children learn how to express their emotions, develop social skills, and use their imaginations.
  • Choosing the right doll for your child can help them to develop cognitively and emotionally.

Cognitive Benefits of Playing With Dolls

Joint or solo play with dolls can provide of opportunities for rehearsing social-cognitive skills in children. Doll play encourages social skills, emotional intelligence, and language development.

Social Skills

Doll play helps children learn how to interact with others in a positive way. Through doll play, kids can practice taking turns, sharing toys, and communicating their feelings. This type of imaginative play also teaches them about empathy and understanding different perspectives. Social and educational research has shown that playing with dolls helps children develop better social skills than those who don’t engage in this type of activity.

Emotional Intelligence

When children engage in creative play with their dolls, they learn how to express emotions appropriately as well as recognize the emotions of others. They also gain an understanding of what it means to be compassionate towards someone else’s feelings or situation which is an important part of emotional intelligence (EI). Studies have found that EI is linked to success later on in life so developing these skills early through doll play can be beneficial for kids long-term.

Even solitary pretend play can help with social and emotional processing which is important for developing social emotional skills.

Language Development

Dolls provides children with an opportunity to practice their speaking and listening skills, which are essential components of language development. Through pretend play which involves executive function skills such as those that involve doll play, children playfully distort reality by talking about what they are doing.

This encourages them to use more descriptive language when describing their actions or experiences, thus improving their overall communication abilities over time and help their emotional processing skills.

Types of Dolls and Their Benefits

Dolls are some of the most popular toys for kids. Here are the different types of dolls:

Baby Dolls

Baby dolls are a classic toy that have been around for generations. They offer children the opportunity to practice social and empathic skills through solo play sessions, as well as develop their social and emotional intelligence.

Playing with baby dolls can help children learn how to empathize with others, express themselves verbally, and regulate their emotions. Additionally, it can also encourage language development by giving them an outlet to practice new words and phrases.

Action Figures

Action figures are popular among both boys and girls because they provide an opportunity for imaginative play. By creating stories or scenarios with action figures, children can explore different themes such as bravery or heroism while developing problem-solving skills in the process.

Action figures also give kids the chance to act out various roles which helps them understand different perspectives better while honing their communication abilities at the same time.

Fashion Dolls

Fashion dolls come in many shapes and sizes, allowing children to explore creativity through fashion design activities such as dressing up their doll or styling its hair differently each day. These types of dolls teach kids about self-expression while encouraging positive body image, since they come in a variety of skin tones and sizes that represent real people more accurately than ever before.

Furthermore, playing with fashion dolls is a great way for young girls (and boys) to gain confidence when it comes to expressing themselves through clothing choices without fear of judgement from peers or adults alike.

Peg Dolls

Peg dolls are small wooden figurines with simple designs that kids can use to enhance their imaginative play. They come in various shapes and sizes, often painted with colorful and vibrant patterns that spark creativity in young minds.

Peg dolls are easy to hold and manipulate, encouraging children’s fine motor skills as they engage in pretend play scenarios. By creating their characters and narratives, children develop their social and emotional skills, building empathy and understanding of different perspectives.

Peg dolls can be a valuable tool for early education, introducing kids to concepts like storytelling, role-playing, and problem-solving. They offer endless possibilities for open-ended play, fostering creativity, and a sense of independence in young children.

As kids grow older, they can use peg dolls to create more complex scenarios, incorporate them into other activities, or even create their collections, building their sense of ownership and pride.

How to Incorporate Doll Play Into Your Child’s Routine

Doll play is an important part of a child’s development. It helps to build social skills, emotional intelligence, and language development. The positive impact doll play has can’t be understand even if children prefer solitary play or joint play sessions.

Setting up the scene for pretend play

The first step in incorporating doll play into your child’s routine is setting up the scene for imaginative play based on young children’s preference. This can be done by providing a variety of dolls and accessories that will help spark creativity and encourage role-playing games.

For example, you could provide baby dolls with bottles and blankets or action figures with props like swords or shields. You could also provide miniature furniture pieces like chairs or beds so that children can create scenes from everyday life such as going to school or having dinner at home.

Encouraging imaginative play

Once you have set up the scene for imaginative play, it’s time to encourage your child to explore different scenarios with their dolls. Ask them questions about what they are doing with their dolls and suggest ideas for stories they might want to tell using them as characters.

Encourage them to use props like clothing items or toys when playing out these stories so that they can become more immersed in the experience and learn valuable lessons along the way such as problem solving skills or empathy towards others through role-play scenarios involving friends or family members interacting together in various situations.

Role-playing games

Another great way to incorporate doll play into your child’s routine is by encouraging role-playing games between two people using multiple dolls as characters within one story line. This type of game allows children not only to practice social skills but also encourages cooperation between players since each person has control over one character while working together towards a common goal within a narrative structure created by both parties involved in order to complete tasks successfully, which teaches teamwork among other things such as communication techniques needed during group activities.

Tips for Choosing the Right Doll for Your Child

There are many benefits of doll play and when it comes to choosing the right doll for your child, there are several factors to consider.

Age appropriate

Age appropriateness is one of the most important things to keep in mind when selecting a doll. Baby dolls are best suited for younger children who may not yet have developed fine motor skills or understand how to play with more complex toys. Action figures and fashion dolls tend to be better suited for older children who can handle them safely and enjoy playing with them more actively.


Quality and durability should also be taken into account when selecting a doll. Look for dolls that are made from sturdy materials that won’t easily break or tear, as well as ones that have been safety tested according to industry standards. Avoid small parts or pieces that could pose a choking hazard, especially if you plan on giving the toy to a young child.


Finally, consider the variety of accessories available with each type of doll. Accessories such as clothing, furniture sets, and even pet companions can help enhance imaginative playtime scenarios and make role-playing games even more enjoyable. If you’re looking for something special, look out for limited edition items like designer outfits or exclusive playsets which can add an extra element of surprise and excitement when gifting your child their new toy.

Safety Considerations When Playing With Dolls

When it comes to dolls, safety should always be a top priority. Small parts and pieces can easily become choking hazards for young children, so it’s important to make sure that any doll or toy is age appropriate before allowing your child to play with it unsupervised.

Avoid small parts and pieces

Many dolls come with accessories such as clothing, shoes, hats, jewelry, etc., which may have small parts or pieces that could pose a choking hazard if swallowed by a child. It’s important to check the size of these items carefully before giving them to your child and remove any that are too small for their age group. Additionally, look out for sharp edges on plastic toys or metal objects like pins or needles that could cause injury if handled incorrectly.

Check for choking hazards

Before purchasing any doll or toy for your child, take the time to read the label carefully and make sure there are no warnings about potential choking hazards due to small parts or pieces included in the set. If you’re unsure whether an item is safe for your particular age group of children then err on the side of caution and avoid buying it altogether until you can confirm its safety rating from another source.

Read labels

It is important to read all labels carefully before making a purchase in order to ensure that the product meets safety standards and is suitable for the intended age. The label should indicate material composition (e.g., plastic) as well as care instructions (e.g., hand wash only). This will help guarantee the longevity of the toy without compromising safety, so make sure you read all labels thoroughly before purchasing.

It is important to consider safety when playing with dolls, and these are some of the most common precautions parents should take. In the next section, we will explore how dolls can help preschool cognitive development.

FAQs on Using Dolls for Pretend Play

What do children learn through playing with dolls?

Dolls can help children develop important life skills such as empathy, communication, problem-solving and creativity. Doll play allows children to explore different roles and relationships in a safe environment, which helps them better understand the world around them.

Through imaginative play, they learn how to interact with others while also developing their own identity. Dolls provide an opportunity for children to express themselves creatively and use their imagination in a fun way that encourages learning.

Dolls also teaches kids about caring for others by nurturing the doll or taking care of it like a real baby. Also, many educators find joint play equally rewarding especially through siblings’ creative play themes.

What are the benefits of playing with baby dolls?

Solo and joint play with baby dolls can be a great way to help children learn important life skills. It encourages nurturing and caring behaviors, as well as helping them develop empathy for others. Dolls also provide an opportunity for imaginative play, allowing kids to explore different roles and situations in a safe environment.

Dolls helps children practice communication skills such as taking turns and expressing feelings through words or gestures. Finally, playing with dolls can help foster creativity by inspiring creative stories or activities that use the doll as the main character.

Is playing with dolls a fine motor skill?

Creative and open play with dolls can help develop fine motor skills. Fine motor skills involve small muscle movements such as those used to manipulate objects and tools. Playing with dolls requires the use of these muscles in order to move the doll’s arms, legs, and other body parts.

Additionally, dressing and undressing dolls also involves manipulating smaller items like buttons or zippers which further develops fine motor skills. Therefore, it is safe to say that playing with dolls can indeed be considered a fine motor skill.

What is young children’s pretend play?

Young children’s active and natural play, also known as imaginative or make-believe play, is a type of play where children use their imagination to create and act out scenarios that are not based in reality. During pretend play, children often take on roles and behave as if they are someone or something else, using objects or toys to represent real-life or imaginary items. It is better than tablet games.

This type of play is essential for children’s cognitive, social, emotional, and language development. It helps them develop problem-solving skills, creativity, and abstract thinking, as they create and navigate their imaginary worlds. Pretend play also helps children understand social roles and rules, as they negotiate and act out different scenarios with other children.

In addition, pretend play provides children with opportunities to express their emotions, fears, and desires in a safe and controlled environment. They can explore different feelings and situations, try out different behaviors, and practice coping strategies. This can help them develop emotional regulation and empathy for others.

Young children’s tablet play usually begins around 2 years old and continues until around 7-8 years old. During this time, children engage in different types of pretend play, such as object substitution (using one object to represent another), socio-dramatic play (acting out social roles and scenarios), and fantasy play (creating imaginary worlds and creatures).

Whether or not doll play is something your child is interested in, parents and caregivers can support children’s pretend play by providing open-ended toys and materials, such as blocks, dolls, and dress-up clothes, and by joining in their play and following their lead.

Pretend or symbolic play help children create imaginary worlds and engage either through joint and solo play.

How does doll play increase activity in the posterior superior temporal sulcus in children?

Doll play has been shown to have an impact on brain activity in children, specifically in the posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS). This region of the brain is located in the temporal lobe and is responsible for processing social information, such as facial expressions and body language. Here is a detailed explanation of how doll play increases activity in the pSTS in children:

Social interaction

Doll play often involves social interaction, where children engage in role-play scenarios and create their own stories. This social interaction stimulates the pSTS, as it is responsible for processing social cues and interpreting them. The more children engage in social interaction during doll play, the more their pSTS activity is likely to increase.

Empathy and perspective-taking

Doll play also requires empathy and perspective-taking, as children have to imagine themselves in the doll’s position and understand its emotions and thoughts. This process engages the pSTS, as it is responsible for processing emotional information and taking another person’s perspective. When children engage in empathetic and perspective-taking play, their pSTS activity is likely to increase.

Object manipulation

Doll play involves manipulating and moving the doll, which engages the brain’s motor areas. The pSTS also receives input from these areas, and so the more children manipulate the doll, the more their pSTS activity is likely to increase.

Solo doll play

As children play with dolls, they engage in imaginative play, where they use their imagination to create stories and scenarios and generally good for children’s development. This engages multiple areas of the brain, including the pSTS, as it is responsible for processing social information in the context of imaginative play. It has also been observed that when children played alone, they have the same levels of pSTS as they did when playing with others.

During social play, there is greater activation in the right prefrontal cortex compared to individual play, indicating a potential interaction between the hemisphere and social context of play.

How does solo tablet play influence children’s play?

Positive impacts

  • Tablets offer a wide range of educational apps, games, and videos that can enhance children’s learning experiences, making it easier for them to learn new concepts and skills.
  • Tablets often come with drawing and painting apps that allow children to express their creative side.
  • Tablets can facilitate social interaction among children when they play games together, share experiences, and exchange ideas which helps improve social processing skills.
  • Many tablet games require children to solve puzzles, which can help develop their problem-solving and critical thinking abilities.

Negative impacts

  • Children may spend more time on tablets and less time engaging in physical activities, leading to a sedentary lifestyle, which can increase the risk of obesity and other health issues.
  • Overuse of tablets can lead to isolation and reduce children’s socialization opportunities with peers, family members, and caregivers.
  • Children may become addicted to tablets, leading to negative effects on their mental and physical health.

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