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Why Do Girls Like Baby Dolls?

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Why Do Girls Like Baby Dolls?

"You can never have too many dolls," said 6-and-a-half-year-old Fiona Boger of Newton. Unbeknownst to Fiona, she was speaking of more than just her innermost desires. Study the psychology of playing with dolls Scientists and educators say that dolls are one of the most important toys in childhood.

"Having a lot of dolls is like having a lot of friends and relatives," explains Allana Elovson, a psychologist who specializes in the early socialization of girls and boys.


"The girls don't even think of them as dolls. They're friends," she said. If you walked into your bedroom and your dolls were all lined up, "it would make you feel warm and cozy because you were surrounded by so many friends."

Just as adults have different friends to meet different needs, a variety of dolls can meet a girl's mood and needs. “A doll is always a reflection of the child,” Elofson said.

Rebecca and Fiona use dolls to pretend to be their mothers, teachers or sisters. When they play with Barbie (which is what they often do when playing together), they are friends with Barbie and imagine themselves as teenagers. Rebecca is the same age as 9-year-old Molly. In each case, they are trying to play a different role.

"Because dolls are so close to the human form, a girl will use them to test whatever she is trying to understand in the real world," says Sally Turk, homeroom teacher for the 2- and 3-year-old classes at Wells Children's Research Center, Leigh College. "Barbie is a hands-on way for girls to achieve an unrealistic and unattainable image of the female body," Elofson said. Watson worried about the materialistic values Barbie engendered and urged Parents clarify their family values.

Still, Elofson said parents shouldn't ban Barbie. "If all her friends had one, she would suffer more by not joining the group," she explains. Luria tells feminist mothers who may not want their daughters to play with any dolls, "The most respectful thing you can do for your daughter is to give her a collection of toys with which she can play with whatever she wants." Similarly, she tells mothers not to force their sons to accept doll.


Rogers speculated that the American Girl doll, which only sold well in catalogs, might be Barbie's cure. "It's important for girls to have a doll that accurately reflects who they are," she said.

Clearly, a girl's heart has space and needs when it comes to dolls. So the next time your daughter wants another doll for her birthday, remember Fiona Boger’s wise words: “You can never have too many dolls.”

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