Doll play – Toddler

dolls toddler - CopyBaby dolls provide lots of opportunities to develop fine motor, cognitive, social and self-help skills.

Did you know?

Baby dolls are fantastic toys for both boys and girls to learn about themselves and their world. Using dolls brings the big world down to a manageable size for toddlers. They open up and expand pretend play opportunities.

Simple realistic dolls are best for toddlers as they look most like the real thing and don’t take away from the child’s imagination.

Add language

Playing with dolls gives lots of opportunities to learn and practice different types of words for colours, size, position, actions, and feelings. Different types of words are the building blocks your toddler uses together  to make longer sentences.

During doll play make comments and introduce occasional “where, what, who” questions to keep the conversation going. Pretend play sequences such as feeding, bathing and bedtime with dolly gives opportunities to learn names for body parts, clothing and eating utensils.

Other development

Dressing skills like managing buttons and zips are often easier for children to practice on their doll.

Feeding dolls gives the toddler practice holding and using utensils such as spoons, forks, cups and bowls.

Acting out toileting with a doll pretending to use the potty can sometimes be helpful with toddlers ready for toilet training.

Encouraging your toddler to share books with their dolls gives them a chance to practice what they are learning about how books work and the sound of story telling. These are important foundational skills for learning to read later.

Doll play helps to practice helping, sharing, nurturing and caring skills. Your toddler gets to re-enact their own experience or perhaps prepare for a new sibling or get to care for their baby doll while parents are caring for a new baby.

Doll play gives your toddler a chance to have some power and control through play in a safe environment. They may act out things with a doll that they wouldn’t do to a real baby.


Teddies and other soft toys can be used as part of doll play.


Dolls which have batteries can be a hazard for toddlers both as a battery choking risk and if the batteries leak.

Dolls that can have fluids go through them so they can “wet” can fill with mould inside.

Across the ages

All the activities listed on our “Play Ideas” page can be applied across different age groups. Check out doll play for babieschildren and playgroups.


Activities listed under “toddler” are suitable for children aged 1-3 years. Toddlers enjoy activities that include exploring their environment and finding out how things work.