What is a Waldorf doll, there is no set definition of a Waldorf doll although they tend to be fairly recognisable with their simple natural construction and sweet features. Like with most Waldorf toys they are deliberately simple to allow your child’s imagination to take the lead, and as natural as possible to keep a strong link between the imagination and the natural world during play.
A Waldorf doll or Waldorf inspired doll is a doll used in Waldorf education. They tend to be handmade using natural fibres.
They tend to be soft and malleable with simple faces, sometimes without any features at all, to encourage a child to use their imagination to create the dolls character rather than relying on fixed facial features.
This makes it easier for a child to imagine their doll laughing and happy or sad and crying depending on the game they are playing and the emotions they are exploring.
The first Waldorf school was founded over 100 years ago by Rudolf Steiner. And since then there have been many more schools and kindergartens founded as well as many parents choosing to home educate their children according to or in alignment with his principles and there are a great many toys that have been designed and produced to be in alignment with this philosophy.
The Original Waldorf Doll
The original Waldorf doll as described by Rudolf Steiner was nothing more than a knotted handkerchief or piece of cloth. Knots in the four corners could be seen as hands and feet and a knot could also be made for a head with ink spots for the eyes and mouth. This level of simplicity was considered perfect for a child using their imagination to fill in the blanks.
While for the most part, today’s Waldorf dolls are much more doll-like in their design you can purchase blanket dolls that still feature the knotted hands and feet and make perfect first dolls for babies. The Grimms soft dolls are perhaps one step away from this and also perfect for very young children.
How to Tell If A Doll is a Waldorf Doll?
There is no one manufacturer producing Waldorf Dolls. Many are homemade or made by small producers. Others are handmade on a larger scale. How the dolls are made is not really important, although natural soft materials are certainly preferable for Waldorf principles.
At the heart of the Waldorf, philosophy is the belief that children should be allowed to develop at their own natural pace in an unhurried and creative environment that encourages thinking, feeling and willing to develop a natural motivation for serving humanity. Waldorf philosophy offers a holistic approach and a Waldorf doll would encourage a child’s natural development in the same way. Offering something that is beautiful, natural and will contribute to their overall wellbeing.
A key way you can tell if a doll is Waldorf inspired, other than being soft and made from natural materials, is that they have very simple features. Usually just embroidered or ink eyes and a simple suggestion of a mouth. The reason for this is that this simplicity allows children to have more freedom in choosing how their doll is feeling in any given game.
If you are handy with a needle and thread you could even have a go at making a Waldorf doll yourself.
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