As my daughter approaches a stage where she is interested in pretend play and learning how to interact with others, I thought introducing her to a baby doll would be a great way to teach her things like empathy and how to use 'gentle hands'.
Playing with a life like doll encourages:
•care of self and others
•vocabulary building (body parts, clothing, belongings etc)
I began my search on the internet to find a realistic looking baby doll that would have a skin tone similar to ours. It was hard to tell just by looking online, so the next time I went to a big box store in my area, I visited the toy section - there weren't very many options and they all happened to be Caucasian.
No problem, I thought. I'll go to a large, well known toy store where I'm sure they have many to choose from. The store did in fact have many dolls but I only saw one culturally diverse doll and she was not realistic looking at all.
I was very disheartened when I left and browsed a local book store and was met with more of the same. Ten shelves of Christmas books, four single books about Hannukah and one about Diwali.
In 2020, it's hard to believe that sourcing a multicultural baby doll or diverse book selection would be a task that required research, but it is.
I sat down, did some digging and put together a great list of options for you if you're looking for a doll brand with inclusive options.
I enjoyed putting the list together, but the point is- I shouldn't have to.
This week we saw a strong Black and South Asian woman appointed as Vice-president of the United States of America. There's no doubt in my mind that many young boys and girls will look up to her as an example of what is possible with hard work and determination.
For children in minority groups, Kamala Harris represents even more - the fact that people see us. The fact that we CAN be seen, heard and represented.
Was glad that some brands (like those on this list) see us too and are working hard to ensure our children see people like them not only on the playground but also in their playroom.
Realistic Baby Dolls
Corolle Mon Premier Bebe Collection in the styles Maria, Calin, Alyzee and Mila
American Girl "Bitty Baby" in the styles #1, #4 and #5
Baby Born had great options for boy and girl dolls in different skin tones
Our Generation Dolls - had good options in a variety of hair colours and skin tones with brushable hair
While working on this post, I came across a few stores that I felt were celebrating diversity and inclusion.
The Knowledge Bookstore (Brampton) is a great resource for culturally diverse dolls and books. It's a Black owned business and a small local store celebrating inclusivity.
Mastermind Toys also has great options and carried dolls varying in skin tone and style. I appreciated the fact that they offer free gift wrapping and when I made a purchase and said it was for "Diwali", the store manager suggested a culturally appropriate wrapping paper choice for the occasion (she knew what Diwali was!) They also had beautiful gift wrap choices for Hannukah.