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Why We Got Our Son a Doll (And a Pink Stroller For That Doll!)

We don't just let our son play with a doll, we encourage him to play with a doll. Here is why every boy should play with dolls.

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On the day my husband and I found out that I was pregnant, we decided not to find out the gender of our baby. It was mostly my husband's idea, he thought it would be a fun surprise. I am a bit impatient so if it was up to me, I would have found out. But my husband doesn't ask for a lot of things, so I agreed to keep it a surprise.

And I am glad we did that. I didn't want the baby's gender to determine EVERYTHING that we would get as baby gifts. I didn't want drawers filled with pink frilly clothes if it was a girl. I didn't want tons of cars and firetrucks if it was a boy. So our decision worked out well: we ended up with lots of neutral clothes and baby gear. I am super practical and I am glad we'll be able to pass these things on to anyone in the future, whether they have a baby boy or girl.

Well anyway, 9 months after finding out I was pregnant, we had a beautiful, healthy baby boy. Surprise! That's when all the cars, trains, and firetrucks started appearing in our house. And I don't mind at all! In fact, I am intrigued about how my son seems drawn to the traditional "boy" toys on his own now that he is 2 years old.

My son can spend hours pushing his little cars around back and forth, lining them up next to each other, putting them in his dump truck, etc. He loves his airplane toy and is starting to pretend to fly it as he walks across the room. He loves pushing everything with wheels off the coffee table and watch the toys fall on the floor. He loves playing with his remote control truck even though he doesn't quite get the remote part: he always puts the remote control on top of the truck and then pushes it around. 

But I wanted some balance in his life. And that's why we got him a baby doll to play with. We also got him a little stroller for the doll.

(If you're curious, this is the doll we have. It's washable. And it's Hispanic, although I am not sure how they determined that one. This is the stroller we have, but without the doll.)

Here's why we got our son a doll and a pink stroller:

1. It would be cute

It's that simple.

My son gets excited every time he sees babies and starts yelling "baby! baby!" It is adorable. So I wanted to see if he would get just as excited about his own little baby.

He did! Just that alone was worth the cost of a doll.

And the pink stroller? Well the doll clearly needed a stroller, and the only ones available are pink. No surprise there, because it is meant to be a "girl" toy (see my thoughts on that below). So that's how he ended up with a pink stroller. And he loves pushing that thing around. Sometimes it has the doll in it. Sometimes it has a few cars or a truck. But either way it keeps him entertained, so I don't care what color it is!

2. To Learn Sensitivity

image of toddler boy hugging doll

I want my son to learn to take care of things instead of only playing with toys that involve pushing, pulling, or puzzle solving. All of those toys are great, but I want him to learn to give hugs, pretend to take care of others, and learn empathy by playing with a doll.

3. To Learn Through Playing

In addition to cars, trucks, and airplanes, my son has lots of puzzles, blocks, books, balls, a balance bike, bowling pins, stacking cups, etc. Each of these toys is an opportunity to learn through play. Our son develops fine motor skills, gross motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and imagination through playing with different types of toys, so why not add another way to develop and grow by adding a totally different type of toy, such as a doll? Instead of imagining he is an airplane, he can imagine taking care of the doll: feeding it, bathing it, taking the doll on adventures, and whatever it is girls typically do with dolls.

4. I don't believe in "boy" and "girl" toys

All babies and toddlers should be exposed to as much learning, playing, activities, and people and experiences as possible. So why limit them to certain types of toys, certain colors of clothes? Or to whatever traditional society thinks they "should" be playing with? A 2 year old boy has just the potential to learn as much empathy and sensitivity as a 2 year old girl. And a 2 year old girl would have just as much fun pretending to be an airplane or pushing little cars around as a 2 year old boy. So why limit their imagination?

So we don't just let our son play with a doll. Saying you let your kid do something sounds like you are passively accepting it even though you are not too happy about it. We encourage our son to play with a doll.

My husband agrees that it doesn't matter whether our son plays with traditionally boy or girl toys. A few people in our family don't get it and keep asking why a boy would need a doll. They're the same people who say "he needs to eat! boys need to eat a lot and eat lots of meat".... as if toddler girls don't need to eat and don't need protein in order to grow. And as if we're the ones stopping our son from eating. (Hello, this is a blog about mostly about our picky eater toddler.)

I am glad that overall culture is slowly changing towards equality between boys and girls, men and women, and moving away from traditional gender roles. And one way to do that is to make sure that both boys and girls get a chance to play with all kinds of toys that teach them to be well-rounded little human beings. So why not add a doll and a stroller to my son's collection of toys?

What do you think? Do your kids play with mostly gender-stereotyped toys, or do they love all kinds of toys? Leave me a comment below and share this post on Facebook, let's get a conversation going!

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Monday 26th of December 2022

My son got a doll at age four his choice that I as his father fully supported but did make sure he understood he would have to look after. He talked to that doll all the way home because he didn’t like it being in its box so was reassuring him that it wouldn’t be for much longer. He had a hamster at the time and I noticed he started to neglect it so I explained to him that he had to give as much love to the hamster. He looked after them both and that doll ended up with a better wardrobe than mine but when the doll got a new item so did the hamster. He is 30 now with his own family and the doll belongs to one of my grandsons who takes it everywhere. Why does society look down on this as wrong I don’t get why kids can’t just be kids they grow up in the blink of an eye. I watched my son care for a inanimate object as if it was a real person which to him it was. All the macho garbage drives me crazy teach boys empathy and they grow up into well rounded men not sexist sheep. We have to break the cycle of what’s a boy or girls toy is or nothing will ever change and if your child turns out to be gay so what. A doll didn’t make your child whatever their gender identity that way but it will make them kinder.


Wednesday 18th of January 2023

@Kate, This is an excellent article, and I enjoyed reading it. I'm a grandma of a 4-year-old who takes his doll everywhere, and it's great to see the caring. For example, he will all of a sudden take off the doll's hat if he thinks the doll may feel too warm and he makes food for it - very cute. He also has toy trucks, blocks, etc. but seems to mostly enjoy his toy kitchen and doll, and both parents just let him choose whichever toys he wants to play with.


Monday 9th of January 2023

Exactly! Thanks, Paul.


Thursday 1st of December 2022

I always felt like a toy is a toy. If a child finds joy in whatever they are playing with then why not? Pink or blue. But this article made me smile because it gave me courage to possibly do the doll idea. I really like the learning sensitivity part. I thing that is very much important🙂


Monday 5th of December 2022

I agree!! My son still plays with some "girl" toys but really it's a mix of everything.


Tuesday 10th of December 2019

Hi I noticed my son he's about to be fifteen months and goes to his cousins house a lot. Well she is a girl so she has a lot of girl toy,but although its girl stuff he loves to play with them toys. She just got stroller and he started pushing the stroller around he hugs baby's and gives them love I'm going to get him one for Christmas and can't wait cause I know he will love it because he's such a 💓 with baby's that I wouldn't take back. They shouldn't label the stuff boys or girls any more because when I was younger I played with my brothers things as well as they would play dolls with me nothing wrong with that. It shouldn't be labeled because a lot of good men will take care of their babies with live an care change diapers and clean up there messes an I want my son to know he can do it as well.


Wednesday 11th of December 2019

Yep, exactly!!


Tuesday 8th of October 2019

Yes!!! Exactly. I can't even imagine why anyone would ever laugh at a 2 year old.

Katie Pie

Sunday 15th of September 2019

We got our kids baby dolls as well! We let them pick which ones they wanted (boy/girl, African american/Asian/Caucasian, etc) and unless you special order strollers they are generally all pink. About a year ago our son was taking his baby for a walk and a group of older kids were laughing at him and asking me why he had a baby doll in a stroller. He was 2 so he didn’t know what they fuss was about. I simply asked them why they. Didn’t have one. The biggest reason for me to get babies for our kids was so that both the boy and girl would get to practice sympathy, empathy, and providing care. I do not want my children seeing children as “the womans” domain. Men, women, and all the gender variations between can be excellent parents.

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