Doll playsets are a great choice if we want that our kids learn new things while playing. We want our children to all to grow up to be creative, intelligent, productive members of society.

We invest hundreds of thousands of dollars over their formative years trying to make sure they get the right education and exposure to reach this goal. However, with all our scheduling of baby yoga and toddler baseball and violin lessons for the tween, we often forget that one of the strongest forms of learning is imaginative free-play.

Doll Playsets – Things You Should Know

More and more, studies show that children need time to relax, stretch their bodies and enjoy down time. One of the most successful school systems in the world, Finland, encourages long recesses and short school hours so that children have time to explore their worlds and their childhoods. Schools around the world are following suit by providing more time for play and more access to the tools of play: toys.

Today, we’re going to focus on one sector of toys that people recently have begun to overlook. For centuries, giving a little girl a doll and providing her with doll playsets was considered par for the course. However, lately, we’ve become “too smart”, believing that every moment of play needs to be as structured as a math class, and provide our daughters with less dolls and more educational toys. While there are a time and a place for these toys, there should also be space for dolls and doll playsets.

Dolls and doll playsets allow children to immerse themselves in imaginative play. They get to model behavior for and with their dolls and practice different stages of growth. The right doll playsets give girls a setting upon which to build their dreams and try different selves on for size.

If you’ve ever watched a little girl play with dolls, you’re familiar with the different roles she takes on. I’ve seen children become mothers, doctors, airline pilots, chefs and more for the benefit of their dolls. Adding in doll playsets furthers their ability to become these characters.

When looking for doll playsets, you want to consider the following questions:

How does this playset enhance imagination? Is it a full set? A vital prop? What might my daughter be able to do with this set?

If the answer to that last question is “a lot!” then you have a definite winner on your hands. Remember that the only limit to most sets is your daughter’s imagination. So while you might look at a set and see only one option of play, your daughter might see several. I’ve seen girls take a baby doll car seat and use it not only as a car seat but as a car itself, an airplane and a sled. So try to put yourself in your daughter’s shoes when looking at a set.

How old is my daughter?

This is an important question to ask because you want to make sure that the doll playsets you buy are age appropriate. Generally, the younger a girl is, the larger you want the pieces to be so as to avoid choking/swallowing hazards.

With younger girls, you’re also looking for larger pieces that can be moved or manipulated easily because fine motor skills haven’t quite developed yet. The older a girl is, the more complex and delicate the pieces of doll playsets can become.

We know it might have been awhile since you last played with a doll or with doll playsets, so you might still be confused about what to buy. Don’t worry! We’ve gone and looked at a number of doll playsets and have come up with recommendations based on age to help you get started.

Doll Playsets for Age 2

As your child moves into her first year as a toddler, she’s ready for dolls and doll playsets, so long as they are easy to manipulate and provide a lot of clear options of things to do as she’s only just starting to flex her creative muscles. You want to get her doll playsets that help give her ideas, modeling how to come up with her own.

Go! Go! Smart Animals Happy Paws Playland

What We Love About This Playset:

  • Ages 1 – 5
  • Lots of colors
  • Has buttons to push that make interactive sounds (batteries required)
  • Comes with animal toys (which also make interactive sounds)
  • All pieces are the proper size to fit your toddler’s hands
  • Set is a mix between a house and a playground. This cross makes it open to interpretation
  • Several floors for different settings
  • Encourages exploration and education
  • Can be used with other Go! Go! Smart Animals from other sets
  • Frustration-free packaging option

Doll Playsets for Age 3

By 3, girls are a lot more capable when it comes to playing. This new capability is aided by their growing language skills. As language develops, the ability to express oneself flourishes. Having a doll to talk to and be in charge of helps little girls further their expressive abilities, as well as their empathetic skills.

Disney Junior Doc Mcstuffins – GET BETTER BABY CECE DOLL

What We Love About This Playset:

  • Ages 3+
  • Encourages girls to take care of her
  • Has doctor/nurse tools to allow girls to imagine themselves in those roles
  • Large pieces for easy manipulation
  • Buttons to press
  • Lights and sound (batteries required)
  • Includes accessories “off theme” like the sippy cup, which allows for further play option
  • Most pieces are hard plastic, making for easy cleaning.

Doll Playsets for Age 4

When a child reaches 4, they begin actively seeking independence. Though they’ve been flexing that independent muscle since they were roughly 2 years old, they truly come into their own when they reach 4. This is for several reasons.

The first is that they’ve reached a level of articulation that allows them to distinctively voice their opinions, likes, and dislikes.

The second is that at this point most children today have begun spending time away from home, at daycares or preschools, and can clearly see that they are separate entities from their parents.

Part of that separation shows itself in their desire to be in charge of something or someone else. Buying 4-year-olds doll playsets that allow them to feel like they’re the “mommies” to their babies gives them this feeling in a positive way. It also saves her little sister from becoming her doll!

Mommy & Me 3 in 1 Doll Play Set 1 Doll Pack N Play

What We Love About This Playset:

  • Ages 2+
  • Includes a bouncer, diaper bag, high chair and sleeper for a baby doll that look identical to the ones she recently used, so she will feel like it’s “real”
  • Fits most baby dolls (18”) for this age
  • Durable – will take the wear and tear of playing well
  • Easy assembly
  • Lightweight, so your daughter can easily move the pieces around
  • Pieces fold
  • Colorful, bright fabrics used

Doll Playsets for Age 5

At 5 years old, your daughter transitions from toddler to child. This opens even more possibilities for doll playsets, as her gross and fine motor skills are improving and she is not a risk of swallowing small pieces.

My Mini MixieQ’s Beach Party Collection Playset

What We Love About This Playset:

  • Ages 4-8 years
  • Small and portable – your daughter will be able to carry this playset around with her on trips or around the house, keeping her entertained wherever you go.
  • Bright, colorful pieces
  • Characters have interchangeable hair and clothing, allowing for multiple options and creativity
  • Fun settings to play with

Doll Playsets for Age 6

When your daughter turns 6, it’s time to start asking her what she wants out of her doll playsets. At this point, you may have begun to notice that your little girl is growing up and developing interests and a style of her own.

Some of these interests and styles will be mimicking whatever is currently popular among her peers, or what shows, movies or books she’s into. Asking her what she wants will give you a leg up in terms of finding doll playsets she will enjoy playing with over and over again.

Polly Pocket Dress-Up Party Doll Pack

What We Love About This Playset:

  • Ages 4-8
  • Comes with 3 Dolls
  • Comes with many accessories, including clothing, shoes and headbands
  • Allows your little girl to try out different looks on others and imagine herself in them
  • Unlike old-fashioned Polly Pocket dolls, these are larger, have synthetic hair (for styling) and are less likely to get lost
  • Including more than one doll allows for more interactive play
  • Can be used with other Polly Pocket Playsets

Doll Playsets for Age 7

At seven, you better start thinking about colleges because your little baby is practically a grown-up. She’s ready for most complex doll playsets. So long as you’re not worried about any younger siblings getting into her stuff and swallowing small pieces, the sky is pretty much the limit now.

She’s ready for Barbie sets, Monster High sets, Bratz sets and more! And for those of you who want to provide many options for what your daughter’s future might look like, there are infinite choices, from playsets that encourage STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) to ones that highlight famous female personalities, celebrities, and characters.

Barbie My Scene MADISON DOLL & VESPA Giftset

What We Love About This Playset:

  • Ages 6+
  • Ethnic doll included promoting diversity. Also allows African American girls to have a doll that looks similar to them
  • Helmet included educating about safety
  • Cool outfit
  • Not girly; promotes other forms of identity for young girls who don’t see themselves in the traditional “pink and purple Barbie” role
  • Comes with the scooter for imaginative adventure role-play
  • Doll and scooter can be used with other 12” dolls

And those are our top picks for each age. We encourage you to look at them and others that get recommended alongside them as each is a solid option for young girls. Have fun finding sets that fit your little girl and that she’ll love to play with for many, many years!