Do Dolls Need Wheelchairs?

We all know there are children who use wheelchairs.

And of course there are children who play with dolls.

But the question for today is:
Is there a need for ‘doll’s wheelchairs?’ Or doll’s glasses? Or ‘doll’s’ guide dogs / doll ‘guide dogs’ – (which are really just stuffed plush dogs anyway)?

A wheel chair for dolls

A wheelchair and crutches set for 18 inch dolls.

We sell two different doll’s wheelchairs at The Pattycake Doll Company store, the more realistic one above, which is for the American Girl type of dolls, and the one below, which is more simplistic and for Rag Dolls and Teddy Bears.

A Doll's Wheelchair for rag dolls and teddy bears

A Doll’s Wheelchair for rag dolls and teddy bears

Here are just a few of the reasons why we carry these and other special needs dolls and accessories:

  • As a teaching toy. We all know that ‘the child who is different’ can become the child who is laughed at or picked on. Introducing a doll’s wheelchair into the class room can ease the introduction of the wheelchair student into the classroom. The strange can become the familiar very easily.
  • Nurturing and caring: One of the primary reasons dolls have been a ‘classic’ children’s toy for centuries is the fact that children love to nurture. They love to nurture kittens and puppies, they love to nurture their little brothers and sisters. Sometimes it’s better to let young children learn to nurture and take care of a doll in a wheelchair, and let Mommy and Daddy nurture the real child in the wheelchair.
  • Inclusivity: For the same reason it’s important for Black children to have Black dolls to play with – This doll is Black – this doll is beautiful – I’m beautiful too, is the same reason we believe that children should have the option of playing with or nurturing dolls in wheelchairs.

So that’s why we think there should be doll’s wheelchairs and other special needs dolls and accessories.

Just so you know, there are a lot of people who disagree with us… people who think we are cruelly and unnecessarily  ‘singling out’ special needs children. They’re entitled to their opinions too.

No Naked Dolls!

Nobody sells a naked doll.

Seems obvious right? But have you ever given doll clothes a lot of thought?

I’m going to post some thoughts on this subject for the next few weeks… I hope you’ll find it interesting.

This week: The 12″ Baby Dolls.

The bane of just about every young mother’s existence is the naked baby doll. Most children’s first dolls are either one piece cloth dolls or 12 inch baby dolls. If the doll is a one piece of course the child can’t take the clothes off.

But with baby dolls the clothes do come off. Hence the naked baby doll. Because children from 12 months to about 2 years have no trouble taking things apart… in this case taking off the clothes.

Putting them back on is the problem!

(On the other hand, smart Mommies are always looking for ways to interact with their children in play time, and putting the clothes back on the doll for their child is a great way to get that… even if it is ten times a day! ☺)

Here’s another thought: Who designs the doll clothes that come on the baby dolls? (I myself don’t know, but I may research that in the future.) Is it a good paying job? Is it done in-house or hired out to a designer on contract? How much does it cost to have a doll’s outfit designed.

One thing I do know, is that many companies sell the same baby doll for years, but change the outfit each year. We used to sell a Black Baby Doll by Lee Middleton that went from being ‘Little Bailey’ to ‘Little Hailey’ to ‘Little Chloe!’ Same doll, different outfits, different year, different name.

Little Princess Brn LittleHaileyAA LittleBailey

One of the banes of my existence, especially as a doll company, is getting our customers (the adults) to realize that they really need to consider buying extra clothes to go along with their baby doll purchase.

You see, their daughters, if they are old enough to be playing – and nurturing – their baby dolls, they are not themselves still babies… they are toddlers. And they are not wearing baby clothes, they are wearing toddler clothes… and pretty soon they are going to ask for some clothes for their baby.

But the best reason ever to get pretty baby dresses for their baby dolls?

To encourage your toddler to want to dress like their doll. In pretty dresses. I’m saying that as a father of course. I loved to see my little girl in dresses. Sigh…

Candy Flowers by  Corolle

Candy Flowers 12 inch doll’s dress by Corolle

My Dolls’ Pet Peeves

As I wander the Pattycake Doll Company’s warehouse, checking inventory, unpacking new arrivals, or rearranging the dolls for pick-pack efficiencies, I often hear the dolls whispering to each other, telling each other the tales of their journeys and adventures before coming to our warehouse.

And in one section, we have the dolls that have been returned. Dolls that we can’t sell as new anymore, but that are in good enough condition to be donated to children’s charities and women’s shelters, where despite their minor imperfections, they will soon be ‘loved to pieces’ by their new ‘mommies and daddies.’

I was working near that section recently when I happened to hear the most interesting conversation among the returned dolls. They were discussing their Pet Peeves. I bet you didn’t even know that dolls did had pet peeves – I sure didn’t. But as the true doll lovers that I am sure you are… this is The Doll Blog after all… I thought I would pass along this fascinating information.

Some of the dolls in The Pattycake Doll warehouse

Some of the dolls in The Pattycake Doll warehouse

One of the first things I learned is that dolls hate to have their eyes poked at! You should have heard them complaining about it. Especially the dolls with sleeping eyes. And I have to agree, I wouldn’t want little kids poking at my eyes or pulling up my eyelids to see if I were awake or asleep either.

A lot of the dolls were also complaining about the little kids picking and plucking at their eyelashes. Even pulling them off! Yikes! How painful must that be?

The next most common pet peeve was being undressed and dragged around the house in their undies. Not only was it embarrassing, but a lot of the dolls had put a lot of thought and effort into their clothes. To have them summarily pulled off and thrown around… quite often lost for good, well. Those dolls just didn’t care for that at all.

Another solution to the 'naked' doll.

Another solution to the ‘naked’ doll.

Just as embarrassing was having their little mommies redo their make-up, usually with indelible markers or pens… I know that more and more people are accepting of facial tattoos, but the dolls don’t like it. Not one bit.

There were others… being carried around upside down by their ankles, having their hair cut by amateur hairdressers – or worse pulled out altogether, having strange things shoved into their mouths etc.

But the one thing universally agreed upon by all the dolls in the warehouse was being replaced. To be loved for months and then tossed into the bottom of the toy box and forgotten… that makes dolls so sad.

Just thought you should know.

The cure for naked dolls Part II

I have never wanted to be a psychiatrist, never interested me much, but I have to admit I wish I knew a little bit more about why people get so upset over certain things.

Anatomically correct dolls upset a lot of people. So do naked dolls – even naked dolls that basically have sacks of cloth for a body.

As discussed last week, there are a few easy fixes for naked dolls: helping them – Good old fashioned down on the floor play time – to dress their dolls, or having a few extra outfits to put on their dolls.

Here’s another simple fix: Buy dolls that can’t be made naked.

Biracial Baby Bath Doll

Biracial Baby Bath Doll

Like this BathTime™ baby doll from Adora. Her cloth sack body has a ‘bathing suit’ print on it. Even if your daughter removes the robe, the doll is still ‘dressed.’ There are a lot of doll companies who do this.

Like Zoe’s Owls? Remove her dress, and you get a one piece doll with a colorful stripe print. Is she technically ‘naked?’ Yes. Does she look like a ‘naked doll?’ Of course not.

Another solution to the 'naked' doll.

Another solution to the ‘naked’ doll.

But still, children love to dress and undress dolls. Two of the best selling dolls are Barbie and American Girl Dolls… and all their fashions. But those are for older children, and we’re talking here about the naked baby dolls that your toddlers are dragging around the house. So here’s another solution… dolls that can never end up naked!

The cure for naked dolls.

Too many naked dolls in your house?

Three year old child running around gleefully shouting “nakey, nakey, nakey?”

'Naked 'Children's dolls

Do her dolls all look like this?!?

Do you know why?

  1. She is too young to dress her dolls, but not too young to undress them.
  2. You have taught her to change her clothes for cleanliness, but don’t have any extra ‘doll clothes’ for her to put on her dolls.
  3. She is playing with her older sister’s fashion dolls. (see #1 above)

Solutions:

Learn to dress doll

A learn to dress Pirate Puppy with button, zip etc.

  1. Get her a learn to dress doll.
  2. Spend more time ‘playing dolls’ with her and teach her to dress them.
  3. Buy doll clothes for her dolls that have removable outfits.
Doll clothes for 18" dolls

18″ Doll clothes for 18″ dolls

Just what is a ‘Safe Doll?’

CPSIA Logo

CPSIA Logo

Everybody who buys dolls wants to make sure they’re safe. That’s a given.

But what does ‘safe’ mean?

Today’s post is about what we do to try and make the dolls we sell as safe as is possible for your children.

In the US we have the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSIA) safety standards, but since most of our dolls are also sold in Europe, they also comply with Europe’s EN71 regulations. (About 10% of our dolls come from Spain.)

After manufacturing, the dolls have to be tested in three main areas: Soft Toy Testing, Plastic Toys Testing and Electrical Toy Testing.  Many dolls have to be tested in multiple categories, like this animated lamb that tells nursery rhymes.

Nurserytime animated and talking lamb by GUND

Nurserytime animated and talking lamb by GUND

And then there’s all the things they test for. Here’s just a partial list:

  • That the materials they use are safe, including flame retardants and dyes, and contain no poisons like Lead, Chromium, Formaldehyde, Nickle, Benzene.
  • That the filling materials are clean and new.
  • Paints and Dyes: Poisonous? Will they flake, or dissolve in the mouth if a child sucks on them?
  • Physical Strength: basically, can your child, pull, twist, squeeze, bend or bite pieces off of the doll that they can then choke on or swallow?
  • Also drop tests. If this doll is dropped, will it break into sharp and dangerous pieces?
  • Are there magnets, eyeballs, ribbons, buttons or other parts to the doll that can come loose or be broken off?
  • and many, many more.

It is practically impossible for a new doll to get made and into your hands without all this safety testing. It costs the manufacturers a small fortune.

Even so, we want your kids to be safe, so we’ll warn you of four big ways you could get an unsafe doll:

  1. Buy an old doll on ebay or at an antique store or at a used goods store like Goodwill that was manufactured before the CPSIA regulations.
  2. Buy a handmade craft doll at a craft fair or off of Etsy.
  3. Leave an older child’s doll around where a toddler can get at it. For example, American Girl® dolls are recommended for ages 8 years or older because many of the smaller accessories are choking hazards for a three year old.
  4. A doll you have that was safe when you bought it, could over time become unsafe… loose parts, rough play etc.

You know, for all the talk and worries of toy safety, the one thing you actually can control you probably don’t do anyway…

All the dolls and toys in your house are supposed to be inspected regularly, to see if they’re still safe to play with, but almost no one I know of does it!

The Lost Doll Part I

Painting 'The Lost Doll'

‘The Lost Doll’ painted by Tom Lovell

“My child is inconsolable. Please can you help me?” About once a month we get these desperate calls. A child has lost a beloved doll.

Or like this email from just after Christmas:

“You guys are life savers. My daughter had one of your cloth dolls that was left in a rental car. She has cried for 4 days. Continue with the business of doll making. Your dolls are so darling. I am certain that she will cherish this new one forever.”

We had the right African American rag doll in our PattycakeDoll.com store; order placed and doll delivered… Happy Ending.

But not all lost baby doll stories have happy endings, unfortunately, throughout our years in the doll industry, we’ve heard lots of sad stories about ‘The Lost Doll.’

‘Little lost dolly’ is not a new phenomena, here’s a somewhat famous poem called ‘The Lost Doll’ written by the English poet Charles Kingsley over a hundred years ago:

I once had a sweet little doll, dears,
The prettiest doll in the world;
Her cheeks were so red and white, dears,
And her hair was so charmingly curled.
But I lost my poor little doll, dears,
As I played in the heath one day;
And I cried for her more than a week, dears,
But I never could find where she lay.

I found my poor little doll, dears,
As I played in the heath one day;
Folks say she is terribly changed, dears,
For her paint is all washed away,
And her arms trodden off by the cows, dears,
And her hair not the least bit curled;
Yet for old sakes’ sake, she is still, dears,
The prettiest doll in the world.

Next week in part two, we’ll offer some advice on what to do if your child loses a her favorite doll.

The Lost Doll Part II

In a previous post we talked about a common misfortune that befalls children… the little lost doll. This week we’d like to offer some advice on how to handle it:

If you’re the parent of a desperately unhappy child, what can you do?

  • Try to recognize how much of the child’s anguish you have caused by your reaction. Like if you’ve gone OMG! ballistic and frantic… your child is going to ramp it up as well. So step one – calm down. Don’t let your panic, anxiety or guilt roll over onto the child; do a due diligence search with the child to see if you can find the lost doll, and then as quickly as possible,
  • Find a suitable substitute fast – transfer the child’s attachment to a new lovey. It doesn’t have to be exact! It just has to be suitable to the child. Many a time we’ve offered “Lovey’s little sister,” or Boo-Boo Bear’s brother has come for a visit…his name is Boo Boo Panda”, or even a complete replacement… “The Cat in the Hat heard you lost ‘Fuffy Cat’ and wanted to come play with you instead.”  You’d be surprised how often these substitutions, when offered in a calm and reasonable presentation, end up working out just fine!
The Cat in the Hat plush character doll

The Cat in the Hat plush character doll

Once your world finally settles back down, here are a couple of additional suggestions:

  • Teach your child to have different favorites for different things, like a bedtime favorite that stays with the bed, and a playtime favorite that can go in the car!
  • Have an agreed upon ‘Little Miss Back-up’ lovey that keeps your child company when Number One Lovey goes in the wash.
  • If you see a child is really, really attached to a particular doll, teddy or lovey, buy a second one now before there’s a problem.

Why you need a Doll’s Hair Brush

Hairbrush for Dolls Hair

A Typical Doll’s Hair Brush

Last week we blogged about Bald Barbie, which kinda leads us to this week’s post: dolls with hair, and specifically, the doll’s hair brush

If you daughter has a doll with hair, she needs a doll’s hair brush. Why? Because if your daughter doesn’t have a doll’s hair brush, she will use her own hair brush on the doll and transfer the natural hair oils that keep her hair looking healthy and shiny, to the doll’s hair. And you don’t want that.

On our Doll’s Hair Care page at the Pattycake Doll Company’s web site, we offer hints on how to clean doll hair, but we think it’s better if you don’t have to go down that path in the first place.

A doll’s hair brush is a little different than your child’s hairbrush. It should have metal tines, and no rubber tips… the better to slip through the synthetic doll hair. And because doll’s heads are smaller, doll’s hair brushes are smaller too.

PS: Our doll hair care page also teaches your daughter ‘how to brush a doll’s hair,’ so that she doesn’t break too many strands or helplessly tangle her doll’s hair and ruin it.