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

Book Review: Patti Cake and Her New Doll

Cover Illustration for Patti Cake and Her New Doll

Cover Illustration for Patti Cake and Her New Doll

How could I resist? We are the Pattycake Doll Company after all.

Written by Newberry award winning author Patricia Reilly Giff and illustrated by Laura J Bryant, Patti Cake and Her New Doll is a picture book for younger toddlers.

I am a bit conflicted about whether I like this book enough to recommend it as highly as some of the other classic doll stories, but would tend to say ‘Yes, get it,’ because of the illustrations.

I think doll books should be about dolls, and their importance to the child. Patti Cake could just have easily been written with a new dress substituted for the doll, or a new bed spread. All the incidents that drive the plot could easily have been worked around a different object. It didn’t have to be a doll.

Also, when my children were little there were books that once read had to be read again and again. Or if there was no one available to read to them, they would turn the pages over themselves and enjoy the book just by it’s pictures.

I don’t think my children would have loved this book like that. Hence my conflicted feelings about this new book.

Doll Play as Role Play

 

One of the best things about playing with dolls is that they help children grow to be better people. There are no negatives… just positives.

There is a lot that has been written about the importance of doll play, and I’m a simple doll store owner and not a psychologist, so in today’s post I’d like to just point our some of the best bullet points:

  • Doll Play is ‘unstructured’ play. In a world that is increasingly structured and scheduled, (increasingly meaning that recess and ‘gym’ are being cut further and further in America’s Schools,) doll play is unstructured and open ended.
  • Doll play is imaginative and free form – there are no scripts to follow, or ‘rules to the game’ in doll play.
  • Doll play helps teach nurturing… to take care of something smaller than yourself.
  • And doll play is an opportunity to role play, which greatly boosts children’s imaginations.

Most children’s role playing with dolls is as a parent, which is why the majority of children’s dolls sold are baby dolls. But there are many other personas that children take on while playing with dolls… Doctor or Nurse, Teacher, Boss and Hostess (not the political) Tea Party, Story Teller and many others.

It’s nice that people often think of dolls as a great gift, it helps keep me in business. But I think it’s also important to remind people why doll’s make such great gifts… it’s because they help kids become great people!

 

Guest post: Are simpler dolls better?

Phil on JTVGuest Blogger: Phil Wrzesinski is president and owner of Toy House and Baby Too in Jackson, Michigan, recently named “One of the 25 best independent stores in America” in the book Retail Superstars by George Whalin. You can learn more about Phil at www.PhilsForum.com.”

I often talk to mother’s groups about Play Value. One of the big ideas I try to get across is the importance of Interaction in playing with a toy. Many toys today have little interaction other than hitting a button and getting out of the way. These aren’t really toys, they are novelties.

They take the kid out of the play. The less the kid does, the less interested the kid will be in the toy.

To get the point across I’ll often ask them, “What was your favorite doll as a kid?” Many will wax poetically about their favorite doll. They’ll tell me her name, describe her in detail and even talk about all the adventures they went on together.

Then I ask them, “What did the doll do?” Invariably, they say, “Nothing.”

The doll you loved the most was most often the doll that did the least. You loved that doll precisely because of how little it did. You loved it because everything that it was all came from you. The doll’s voice was the voice you gave it. The doll’s thoughts were the thoughts that came from you. The doll’s personality was the personality that sprung from your heart.

Everything about that doll was you.

There are dolls that walk and talk and eat and go potty. They are fun and they have their place in the toy box. But the more they do, the less your child does. The less your child does, the less interaction with the toy. The doll that will be most beloved, the doll that will take up the most space in the memory box, will be the doll that did the least and required the most from you. The moms in my talks get that immediately.

Guest Post: Two ways to look at Doll Play

Phil on JTVGuest Blogger: Phil Wrzesinski is president and owner of Toy House and Baby Too in Jackson, Michigan, recently named “One of the 25 best independent stores in America” in the book Retail Superstars by George Whalin. You can learn more about Phil at www.PhilsForum.com.”

You can learn a lot about your child from how she plays with dolls. For instance, have you ever noticed that some kids love dolls but don’t play much with dollhouses while other kids prefer the dollhouses over baby dolls? There is a reason.

Kids tend to gravitate to one of two styles of play – Participant or Director.

Directorial play is for kids who love to be in charge. They set the rules. They decide the parameters. They control all the character’s motions, thoughts, and actions. They don’t take on the character role, but serve as an overseer of the action.

Doll houses are a big hit with children who prefer directorial play. So are toys where the child makes the rules and controls all the characters. Action figures, construction toys, and vehicles are their favorites. Open-ended crafts like Play Doh and blank pads of paper also intrigue and engage directorial play kids. They want to be their own boss. Don’t tell them which lines to stay inside.

Participatory play is for kids who don’t have to be in charge. They want to be one of the characters in the play. Baby Dolls allow them to take on roles such as the mom or the baby sitter. Baby dolls let them do that. Sure, they have to direct the other characters, but only so that their character can join in.

Kids who prefer participatory play don’t need to make the rules. But they do want everyone to follow the same rules. These kids tend to prefer sports, dress-up, and story-telling because they get to be a participant. They’re okay with coloring books, too. Just make sure you have plenty of crayons.

And now you understand the difference between the Barbie Doll (directorial) and the Baby Doll (participatory).

(Note: there is nothing “wrong” with either style of play and no child is exclusively one style versus the other, but by understanding their preferences, you are more likely to hit home runs with the toys you purchase for them down the road.)

Princess Boy’s Dolls

A Princess Boy Doll

Our Jacob doll dressed as a girl

We think it’s OK for little girls to be Tomboys, and little boys to be Princess Boys.

As the child of doll store owners my daughter had her choice of thousands of dolls to play with. But as the fates would have it, my daughter was a tomboy and never really played with dolls. She loved her ‘Cowbear’ to sleep with, but her idea of a good time was to roam the woods and turn over logs looking for salamanders, or swing from tree to tree like Tarzan on the wild grape vines hanging from our trees. Doll play bored her to tears. So our daughter wore suitable ‘boy’s clothes’ to roam the woods in. Jeans and shirts. No one ever said a word.

Dressing her in boy’s clothes and letting her be a tomboy did not make her a boy, nor gay. She is now happily married, quite feminine and pretty, and there’s nothing ‘tomboyish’ about her.

So I find it hard to believe that letting a Princess boy wear pink and sparkly girl’s clothes and play with dolls is any different.

I have a friend to whom God gave a man’s body with a woman’s mind and soul inside. I met him when he was Michael, and wore men’s clothes, and watched over several years as she became Jackie and wore women’s clothes. I can assure you, it wasn’t the clothes that changed Michael to Jackie!

We sell boy’s dolls and girl’s dolls at The Pattycake Doll Company, and boy doll clothing and girl doll clothing as well. So I guess you could say we not only sell dolls for boys and girls, we also sell dolls for Tomboys and dolls for Princess boys. Because just like clothes and doll play won’t change the child inside, neither will the gender or clothes of the doll.