Can Boys Play With Dolls?

For many people this might seem like a silly question. Boys can play with dolls, just like girls can play with diggers and dinosaurs. Right? And yet there is still a lot of gender stereotyping that is attached to different toys, and still plenty of people who might give you a funny look or even make a comment if they see your little boy playing with a doll.

Dolls are all about role play and playing pretend. Little girls and boys playing with dolls are acting out being parents and learning valuable life skills in the process. From the fine motor skills needed to button a shirt to learning empathy and how to care for others. Playing with dolls uses the imagination and it’s fun so why would we not give little boys this opportunity as well as little girls.

Despite the fact that seeing a man carrying their baby, pushing a pram or playing with their kids in the park is about as manly as it gets, dolls and prams are still seen as somewhat girly toys. But why?

Is it because there’s an excess of pink and we’re somehow programmed to think of that as a girly colour? Is it that most baby dolls are girls? Although thankfully that’s beginning to change. Is it that little boys get told dolls are for girls and so, therefore, see them as girly toys?

Although your son will never give birth you need a man and a woman to make a baby so your son is just as likely to become a parent. In fact, they are much more likely to become a parent than they are a race driver, carpenter or astronaut which should mean that playing with dolls is about as gender-neutral as it gets.

So how can we change this perspective?


  • Learning though play. Kids learn when they play. Playing with dolls can teach about caring for another person, great if you have a new sibling on the way, as well as practical skills like doing up buttons or getting trousers on the right way round.

  • Role playing situations. Playing with dolls can be a great way for children to act out challenging or new situations. You can talk to them about sharing, looking after each other, what to do if they encounter bullying and all sorts of other things.

  • Comfort. Children will often talk to dolls and soft toys as if they are their best friends. They’ll take them with them on adventures and cuddle up with them at night. A doll can help a child get through their first day at nursery, give them comfort when they are feeling poorly, or just keep them occupied on a long car journey.

And if you are worried what other people might say to your child to respectfully say that there is nothing girly about holding a baby.

If you’re keen to give your child the opportunity to play with dolls from a young age before possible outside influences have a look at some of the best dolls for babies.

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