A long time ago, when Milo was just a baby, I bought a little doll. I had just found out I was pregnant with Oliver, and I wanted Milo to get used to the idea of nurturing a little brother. He took the doll from me, glanced at it, then threw it into the corner of the room, where it lay face down for the next few days before I picked it up and tried again, modeling holding, cooing over, and rocking the baby. No dice. He just wasn’t into it. It wasn’t a big deal, and guess what? He still became an awesome big brother (twice over).
Oliver was (and still is) really into stuffed animals. He babies them and loves them– cuddling, swaddling, and tucking them in every night.
Then along came Emil, and suddenly, there is this little papa walking around the house. We got him his first baby doll (a knit doll he has since named “Baby Mama”) for his first birthday. But just recently, he started to show more interest in babies, and has slowly collected them over the past few months. Watching him take care of his babies is pretty remarkable. I think he has experienced so much love and has had so many nurturing males in his life to model this gentle behavior.
The most recent (Baby Honey), he saved up for after raking leaves, cleaning sinks, and doing yard work. He asked for a “dark-skinned” baby, as his best friend at school has beautiful caramel brown skin and big dark brown eyes. He wanted a baby that “looks like Omar.”
And while it is just one small step towards discussions about race, it is a positive one, and it opens the door to other discussions. There is also a movement in a St. Louis Montessori school called “ColorBrave,” which hosts a series of discussions about race and “building an anti-bias community.” The idea is not to try to create in our children the idea of color blindness, but to acknowledge and celebrate these differences within our community at large.
While I am certainly not saying that simply providing our kids with some multi-cultural dolls will create world peace, I do think that raising our children to be nurturers and loving, empathetic people can go a long way to opening them up to important discussions and realities and to fighting racial bias.
Boys aren’t often exposed to dolls that look like them (either in gender or skin color) and thus might have fewer opportunities available to them for nurturing play, but I found some great options. Here are five dolls geared toward boys. If you know of any others, be sure to leave a link in the comments section!
Naronka Waldorf Superhero Doll
Pocket Waldorf Doll (by the same company)
Wonder Crew (Emil’s original, Baby Tommy. This company is also coming out with dolls in varying skin tones soon)
Otto the Rocker, by Blabla Kids (Emil likes that he has a tattoo, just like his papa)
Bebe Bath Boy Doll, by Corolle (This one can join in on bath time, or outdoor water play!)
If you have a son (or sons), does he show interest in baby dolls? And if so, have you received any backlash? Luckily we haven’t, but I was astounded to read some of the comments on this article… it still doesn’t seem very socially acceptable, apparently!