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RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

What is the purpose of toy dolls?

Asked by RealEyesRealizeRealLies (30951points) November 8th, 2009
36 responses
“Great Question” (4points)

I don’t get it. Never have. I’ve never owned or played with dolls… ever. And so my child is 13 and he’s never known that experience either. He said he doesn’t like to play with his younger cousins because all they want to do is “play dolls”. I’m currently wondering what (if anything) we’ve missed out on.

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Supacase's avatar

They are great for pretend play and imagination. Children can pretend to take care of their own babies, teach school, dress them up for parties, etc.

MissAusten's avatar

Do you mean baby dolls, or action figures? I can understand a 13 year old not being interested in playing with dolls. My daughter is 10 and hasn’t played with dolls for quite some time. She was never really big on dolls though, but sometimes played with them when she was little.

Young kids often like dolls because they like to pretend. They pretend to take care of the baby, chastise the baby for being bad, act out grown-up things, and just use their imaginations. Any kind of toy that gets a kid pretending and using their imagination is a good toy. Children often try to make sense of things through play, so dolls may occasionally die or get hurt, get sick, get into trouble, or fight with other dolls. Sometimes a doll becomes a comfort object that the child likes to cuddle when going to sleep or drag everywhere.

Not all kids are interested in dolls, but that kind of play is very good for kids.

pinkparaluies's avatar

I used to love Barbie. (I had at least ten of them)
Dressing them is fun, making up.. doll drama, i guess. haha
Just a childhood experience

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar


Not just baby dolls. Even super heros or robots and dinosaurs.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar


Did you have or want a Ken? How would the 10 Barbs have treated him?

casheroo's avatar

It’s imaginative play. Children thrive with it.
My son has a baby doll, and toy dinosaurs and other stuffed animals that he plays with that interact in his mind and he makes up stories for them. I think it’s great, and it’s so fun to watch and participate!

MissAusten's avatar

If anything like that counts as a doll, then I guess my kids still play with them all the time. My daughter has a huge collection of these “Littlest Pet Shop” animals that she uses to set up elaborate scenes. She even “dresses” them in tinfoil hats and outfits. They look like they are expecting an invasion of hostile, mind-reading aliens. My boys have Star Wars guys, superheroes, dinosaurs, Webkinz…pretty much all that stuff. The conversations they have with their toys crack me up. Anything make-believe is so good for kids to play around with. Much better than TV, or loud electronic toys that are all flash and no substance. Dolls are right up there with blocks, Legos, art supplies, and balls as some of the best toys for kids to learn with.

Not all dolls are created equal, of course, but in general they are excellent for imaginative play.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Every child is different, so it’s OK if he hasn’t played with dolls or won’t ever do so. I had dolls only until I was 6. After that, I wanted to play with board games or skates or other toys. I let my cousin melt my old Barbies with matches.

Aethelwine's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies My Ken dolls (I had two) would ride around in Barbie’s car, sit in her pool and kiss the girls. Hard life for them, eh?!

faye's avatar

I didn’t like dolls, don’t think I missed anything. My mom missed buying dolls.

wildpotato's avatar

Myself, I don’t know. I wasn’t much interested in dolls as a kid, and I haven’t had kids. But I’ll give you an interesting little dialogue from one of my favorite movies, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. Bit of background: in the world of Ghost, there are cyborgs (humans with robot bodies), robots, and humans with varying degrees of bodily augmentation.

Coroner Haraway: “The dolls that little girls mother, are not surrogates for real babies. Little girls aren’t so much imitating child rearing, as they are experiencing something deeply akin to child rearing. Raising children is the simplest way to achieve the ancient dream of artificial life. At least, that’s my hypothesis.” Togusa [who has kids]: “Children aren’t dolls!” Batou [a cyborg]: “Descartes didn’t differentiate man from machine, animate from inanimate. He lost his beloved five-year-old daughter, and then named a doll after her, Francine. He doted on her. At least that’s what they say.” Togusa: “Can we get back to reality here?” At the end of the scene Haraway’s eyes and surrounding face lift out and up, and she plugs some wires into her eye sockets.

This makes me think that there may be many yet-to-be defined complex psychological factors involved when children play with dolls. Great question.

DominicX's avatar

I had a baby doll that I used to play with. It was a lot of fun. I would pretend to take care of him and feed him and all that…I think it’s beneficial for a child to do something like that. Maybe it teaches them to be caring and nurturing.

As for things like action figures, it allows for pretending and fantasy. All things things that children should experience. Not saying they need dolls or action figures for it, but it’s just one of the many ways.

Ailia's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies They were just fun to play with. Back in the day, my friend and I would play with dolls for hours and we never really got bored. So I guess one answer would be that they are fun for some people.

Another purpose of dolls is that it was something to do when no one else was available to play with. When you are a youngster dolls can be a great escape, especially if you have a good imagination. For instance my friend and I would always make up “episodes” with our dolls. These “episodes” were really fun for us as we got to direct our own sort of play with the dolls. We could do anything we wanted to in these “episodes” and they were really fun; whether it be was secret mission involving the rescue of dolls or just a scene from a show we had watched that day.
Either way dolls were entertaining. I’m really glad my parents entertained my doll obsession for so long.
The dolls created some good memories for me and my friends. I even collected them, the dolls, at some point, which ended with me having far more than I could ever need; 27. :)
Anyways I hope this answers your question.

MissAusten's avatar

We got our daughter a new baby doll when we were expecting our second child so she could practice being gentle. She preferred to carry it around by one foot with its head bumping along the wood floor. Sometimes she’d stuff it under the couch cushions and say it had died and was buried. We were very careful never to leave her alone with her baby brother after that. ;)

faye's avatar


laureth's avatar

The only reason I was interested in dolls was because I could make things for them. I liked making things. My favorite was Cave Barbie – I made her leather clothes, bow and arrow, chipped little arrowheads. It was more about the challenge of making things small.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

For kids, they are fun and they stimulate the imagination.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar


You’re kidding right… Cave Barbie?

faye's avatar

I had animals for caring and nurturing and you couldn’t just dump them like a toy. tho my favorite thing as a little girl was a pair of REAL high heels from a neighbor with tiny feet. hmmm

SeventhSense's avatar

Oh wow it was a long time coming but Ken and Barbie…well things were rocky and that G.I.Joe well, he’s a bad boy

filmfann's avatar

To show the nice policeman where the priest touched you.

SeventhSense's avatar

That was a funny commercial. Hard to believe that that came out in early 1990’s.
God I have to stop getting older every year

asmonet's avatar

Um, your imagination? Were you born without one or something?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar


My imagination was spent slaying dragons and rescuing damsels, out-doors with a stick for a sword. I also imagined myself as the greatest home run hitter of all time while slugging rocks across the field with that very same stick. I played hot-wheels and built towns and race tracks out of mud because I never got any of the orange track to keep me inside. My daisy beebee gun warded off all sorts of wild animals and protected my tree house from murderous convicts and evil monsters.

I built imaginary relationships with my dog (Keno) who I was convinced could talk and was sometimes the only one in the universe that could understand me and my problems. Keno and I killed many monsters together, most often in the form of rodents and possum.

asmonet's avatar

Not all of us play in first person, most people go through a ‘God phase’ as a kid. Then again, some just make themselves the center of the universe, rather than their characters. Looks like you were the latter. :)

And your cars are pretty close, no? You set up races? Explosions? Dramatic falls off cliffs into muddy waters? Same thing, without a face on it. Stories are stories. No matter how simplistic, the tools can change.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar


Sure, I guess the hot-wheels could be a form of doll, so in that sense I played with them. There were no other kids around where I grew up, and I never had any friends from school come over until high school.

My bike was a big factor too, taking me anywhere I wanted to go… sometimes it was a motorcycle… sometimes a horse. My bike was prized possession.

asmonet's avatar

Like, I said – you were your own character. Each kid waves their freak flag in their own special way.

Me? I dissected a Barbie once with movable joints because I wanted to know how they worked. On my roof. In my ‘laboratory’.

Don’t judge me.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Hehee… I did steal a Barbie once from a little girl… just to give it back to her with head blown off by fire crackers and body riddled with bee-bees.

Who’s to judge?

pinkparaluies's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies I only had one Ken. haha. Which naturally fueled a lot of barbie drama.

Strauss's avatar

I grew up in a era before it was considered “appropriate” for boys to play with either dolls or action figures, and before “Ken” or “GI Joe”. I did have a “Howdy Doody” marionette that I used to perform with for family & friends, but I think that would be different than a doll per se… The closest we had to action figures were the little green soldiers. We would buy them by the hundreds and play “war” with my troops vs. my brother’s or my neighbors. I don’t know if that had any effect on my growing up to be a pacifist.

laureth's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies – “Cave” Barbie was based on Ayla in the Clan of the Cave Bear book I’d just read at the time. It wasn’t a real official Barbie.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar


You should call Barbie Corp with the idea. Sounds like a great one! complete with pet dino on a leash and cave dwelling with stone furniture

Cromagnum Ken?

Strauss's avatar

@laureth Clan of the Cave Bear Good series. I read them back in the ‘80’s!

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