The Baby Doll has been inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame. This creative toy has actually been around for far longer than you might think. Baby dolls can cry, ‘drink’, sleep, and even wet themselves. They give kids the chance to pretend to be a real mum, and they have been around since the mid-1800s! They were the first really ‘cute’ dolls that allowed children to act like mothers, unlike the companion dolls and the fashion dolls, which were poseable, and were useful as a thing to play tea parties or dress-up with. Baby dolls play a different role, and open up new avenues for imagination and play.
Baby dolls can be carted around in a stroller, ‘fed’ in a high chair, and rocked to sleep just like a real newborn baby.
It’s hard to make a doll that looks like a baby. Dollmakers started trying to do it in the 19th century, but it wasn’t until decades later in the 1920s that they made real breakthroughs. The Bye-lo baby, a doll that looks like a newborn baby that is about three days old, was a massive innovation.
Now, you can get baby dolls that let you really role-play being a mother – some even respond to the voice of the child, or can be used to play peek-a-bo with them. Others can crawl. These use sensors and technology that weren’t around 100 years ago, but they also build on the same spirit levels and levers that were used in the toys that were pioneered more than a century ago.
The National Toy Hall of Fame lists toys that are timeless, and that captured the hearts of generations of children. It is full of toys that bring joy to children, and that were not fads. Things that are iconic and important and that have value either because they are so fun to play with, or because they have educational value.
The baby doll is a truly valuable toy, and something that parents the world over will appreciate. It’s not just parents that use them either – some schools have taken to using the baby doll as an educational tool to teach teenagers about parenting. Instead of giving the child a bag of sugar to treat like a baby, they give them a doll, perhaps with something fragile attached to it. For a week, they have to take the baby with them everywhere, keep a diary, and protect the fragile item.
The Baby Doll’s addition to the toy hall of fame may well bring it back as a new, popular toy for a generation of children that are now more interested in playing with their iPads or on their games consoles. It’s a great toy that offers a bonding, caring and role-playing experience, and it’s something that a child will play with for a long time, so it represents great value for money as a Christmas gift for them as well.