My kids are boys, and they happen to show curiosity and interest in toys of all kinds. Whether they’re labeled as boy toys or girl toys doesn’t have any real meaning in their young minds. When Dash was just a little baby, my Mom got him a baby doll. It was bald and had on a yellow dress, with a heart-shaped light on the chest that reminded me a bit of Iron Man, except that it was smaller. He had some minor interest, but it just never really caught his imagination. I re-gifted it, because I don’t want to waste a toy that could find a loving home elsewhere. As he’s grown, there have been numerous times he’s encountered dolls; at the children’s museum, at day care when another kid brought it in, and especially in the homes of other kids during play dates. He frequently has picked them up, played with them for a few minutes, and then lost interest. Some of the times he’s picked them up, other kids who were a bit older have pulled them away and told him, “That’s a girl toy!” When we’ve been in toy aisles, he’s pointed to dolls and showed interest in them, but then always dismisses them before an actual purchase is made. Nearly every time, he tells me in a disappointed tone, “Oh, it’s a girl.” He’s mainly ended up acting out care-taking role play with stuffed animals. He has a few teddy bears or rabbits that he would cuddle, attempt to “feed,” and even use to pretend to change a diaper.
Now that Ozzie is old enough to show preference for some toys over others beyond just what is handy, he’s also been drawn to dolls a few times. He’s picked them up and given them kisses and hugs, and generally behaved in a way that shows he likes them. It’s very sweet, and yet, again, other children have chastised him against playing with a “girl toy.” Just as I did when this happened with Dash, I’ve always reminded them that there are no toys that a boy or girl can’t both play with, and that all toys are for all kids if they want them.
I pride myself in being pretty progressive, and pretty open and accepting of whatever, as long as my kids are getting something positive from it. I’m not going to push girl toys on my boys for the sake of training them to like girl stuff, but I also won’t ever try to steer them away from anything feminine nor drive them to more masculine items. But Dash at least, very specifically has asked for a boy doll. On store shelves it is just impossible (at least, wherever I’ve looked) to find a doll that is clearly a BOY doll, unless it is an “action figure,” generally about half the height of a barbie, made of hard plastic, and not very toddler friendly. Those hard dolls aren’t much good for cuddling, and they don’t have removable clothes that can be changed to allow for more imaginative play. They may have moveable arms and legs, but even that isn’t standard. What the heck, toy sellers? Why can’t my boys have a doll that isn’t wearing a dress, and that doesn’t force them to fight off stereotypes about what kind of boy he must be?
I had no choice but to look to the internet to find two boy dolls for my two boy kids. My standards were set pretty low. I was looking for a doll around a foot long, a bit more wouldn’t be a problem, but I didn’t want something so small that it’d be too small to hug. Something soft so they can take it to bed, and that can be tossed into the washing machine. Removable clothing would be a plus, and in that case, I would want to pick up a few outfits that they could change out.
So to sum it up: 1- at least a foot tall. 2- soft. 3- removable clothes and others to change into (not a deal breaker).
I actually found a very short list of options, and almost all of them were sold out and discontinued. I’d like to take a moment to ask, didn’t Amazon’s mom tell them it isn’t nice to tease? Why do they list items that are not only out of stock, but will never be back? Of the dolls I did find, no two different dolls were of similar build but with different clothes. I didn’t want identical dolls for the boys so that they wouldn’t fight over whose doll was whose, but there were so few options for variety! I thought of getting two of the same and just finding extra clothes so they’d look at least a little unique, but I couldn’t find ANY boy doll outfits unless they were for tiny dollhouse figures. I finally found one company that had two different boys, but one came with only shorts, and no shirt. WTF? who wants a half-clothed doll? But with no other good options, I actually ordered one set only to get an email telling me there was a mistake, and that I’d have to chose another doll in the fully clothed one’s place, and the other dolls were girls (but don’t worry, they had about a dozen of them to chose from). Seriously? No wonder you still have the naked boy. Give the poor kid a shirt and he’d probably sell a little better!
I ended up settling on two different dolls which were as similar in size as I could find, although sadly, I couldn’t find any separate clothes for them. Still, Dash and Ozzie are thrilled with “Asher” and “Johnny.”
These dolls are their best buddies, they can’t get enough of them! They’re attached to them at the hip; their dolls have been driving dump trucks, climbing block “mountains,” exploring the darkest corners of forts, and snuggling up to watch a movie or to read a book. And the best part is that when other kids see them playing with these dolls, they can see that they are clearly boys, so my toddler and preschooler don’t have to navigate the murky and much too mature realm of gender-issues just to enjoy their toys.