Parent-toddler play with feminine toys: Are all dolls the same?

Yvonne M. Caldera, Mary A. Sciaraffa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Play with toys provides children with the opportunity to practice behaviors that have relevance to gender role development. By 18 months, toddlers consistently choose to play with sex-appropriate toys. This study was designed to investigate parents' and toddlers' initiation of play with baby dolls and a stuffed clown to determine whether boys are provided with the same opportunity for feminine play as girls are when playing with the same type of toys. 42 parent-toddler dyads from Caucasian middle-class families were observed playing with two baby dolls and a soft stuffed clown for four minutes. Parent toddler play was coded for doll appropriate and inanimate object-type play. The baby dolls and the clown elicited different play behaviors from both the parents and the toddlers. Same-sex dyads engaged in different types of play than opposite-sex parent-toddler dyads. Findings of this study lend evidence that not all dolls are alike. Consequently, parents who provide their toddlers with baby dolls are providing different experiences from parents who provide soft stuffed toys. Implications for gender role development are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)657-668
Number of pages12
JournalSex Roles
Issue number9-10
StatePublished - Nov 1998


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