Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Henry's Baby Doll

 Image courtesy The Cinnamon Bears

While I was minoring in Women & Gender Studies in college, I was really committed to the idea that we should give little boys dolls to play with to help them cultivate their compassion and care. I remember giving my little brother a doll for Christmas.

Now here I am a decade and a half later with a two year-old boy and no dolls in sight! Honestly, I think there still might be no dolls in sight if we had a little girl (although we would have probably received several as gifts by this point). I think it has more to do with the emphasis on more realistic and concrete play and experiences around our house. 

But now that a new baby is on the way, I want Henry to have a baby of his own. We'll try to allow him to help with the baby as much as possible, but when it's not possible, it seems like a doll might be a good outlet for him. 

I did a search on Etsy and found this seller who will custom make dolls for only $28. What a deal! I thought about tackling the project myself, but when I thought about purchasing the materials, learning how to make the doll, and then actually making it, I decided I would much rather support an independent crafter do what she does well. 

I also asked her if she could use a piece of Henry's old clothing for the doll's clothing, and she agreed! I'm going to mail her a pair of his old pajamas. We actually have two sets of them, so one will get turned into a doll and the other will be worn by his baby brother. 

I can't decide if we should give him the doll before the baby arrives to foster more conversations and more practice about how to be careful with a baby or if we should wait and give it to him as a present when the baby arrives. What are your thoughts?

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Michele Chronister said...

I would definitely recommend giving Henry a doll before the baby is born! We're getting ready for the birth of our second later this summer, and being able to role play various baby scenarios with dolls seems to help our oldest ask more questions and act out things related to a baby. I think we have a lot more conversations about babies and what to expect because of her dolls!

Heather said...

I would say to give Henry the doll before the baby arrives as well. It's a great way of teaching him how to be gentle with the baby and to initiate conversation about babies. My niece who is a year and a half was actually quite nurturing with my son when we visited them, treating him as she did her baby doll. If he cried, she'd look for his pacifier to give him and try to help with his bottle, so a doll can be a great tool to teach caring and nurturing! I imagine we'll try the same with my son now since he'll be about a year and a half when his sibling arrives!

Unknown said...

Definitely before. I've even seen pre-natal classes about preparing siblings for baby and they use a doll to talk about care, etc.

Allison El Koubi said...

One of my good friends here just had her second child, a baby girl, and they gave their 2.5 year old son a doll about 4 weeks before Blythe was born to help get him ready for "Baby Sister." Obviously, they had been preparing him long before that for her arrival, but I think the doll was a great tangible way to practice being gentle, how to hold a baby, etc. So I would definitely recommend giving Henry the doll beforehand! Although I also like the idea of giving him something for the birth - maybe something else to celebrate his new role as a big brother?

MAM said...

My little boy (18 months) adores his baby doll (a corolle baby boy doll someone gave us) so I would say give it to him before. It brings tears to my eyes to see him pat his baby and hold it gently (of course, two seconds later baby gets flung into a corner by it's foot!) but I know he pays close attention to "real" babies when we see them out and he likes to imitate what he sees adults do, patting, kissing, feeding, rocking, etc. I have heard that it can help to do some practicing beforehand with a baby doll- like sitting on the couch "nursing" a doll and getting the older sibling used to a different type of play when a parent is anchored in place before a real baby comes into the house. Good luck and I think Henry (and Hoss) will be fantastic big brothers.

Sara said...

This is such a great idea - filing this away for the time when our little guy (hopefully) becomes a big brother!

Jennie said...

Ellie had a couple dolls given to her before we even got pregnant with our second. But when the time came, it was helpful to have them around while I was still pregnant. She would often point at my belly and say baby, but we also sometimes tucked the doll under my shirt and pulled it out so that she would see that it's a 'real' baby in my belly and not just a word that we use to refer to my belly. Now, she'll often sit on the couch beside me and 'nurse' her baby while I nurse her sister. You can also use a doll to practice the things that Henry will be able to help with - like diaper changes!

Marina said...

I've really enjoyed watching my 15 month old play with dolls. She was completely uninterested for a long time, then got attached to a stuffed dog, which eventually lead to play with a variety of different stuffed animals and dolls. It's led to a lot of imaginative play for her, even at this age--if she seems frustrated and unable to express what she wants, it seems easier sometimes for her to identify whether or not "dolly" is hungry. Or perhaps it just allows her to try different ideas on for size.

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