For years, we’ve written about the joy and beauty and specialness of baby dolls as gifts for our kids, from newborns to toddlers, even our school-aged kids. A doll can be a cherished best friend, a bedtime comfort, a travel companion, a tea party guest, and these days, a source of endless smartphone photo inspiration.

At least for all the parents, godparents, aunts, uncles and grandparents of the world!

The benefits of playing with baby dolls, from building social skills to learning cooperation, building imagination and more! | Cool Mom Picks

So we are beyond thrilled to be teaming up with Corolle, the wonderful French company behind our own absolutely favorite baby dolls. They’re each designed to have the perfect look, size, feel and scent (mmm…that vanilla scent) for little ones to love, and we’re so grateful that Corolle offers such diversity of skin tones, races, and genders too, plus dolls for children at all ages and stages.

This post contains affiliate links and some purchases may generate a small commission, supporting our team at no additional cost to you. So thank you!

All home photos here © their original owners and used with permission for Cool Mom Picks

Our favorite baby dolls from Corolle turn 40 this year! And they're celebrating with a big giveaway | sponsor

You may have even grown up with a Corolle doll yourself, because (drumroll) Corolle is turning 40 this year! That’s a whole lot of happy kids with a lot of baby dolls over four decades.

And should you need more reasons to pick up a Corolle doll for your next birthday, shower, or new baby gift? We’ve got 7 right here, all based on research, expert advice, and or own lived experiences.

(We may even be a little emotional just writing about them.)

Related: The best baby gifts of 2021: Our Annual New Baby Gift Guide


1.  Baby dolls inspire imagination7 proven benefits of boys and girls playing with baby dolls | © Kate Etue for Cool Mom Picks

Our associate Editor Kate doctoring her doll back to health

Sure, it looks like a baby doll to us. But to your child, they see a newborn in need of a change, a preschooler in a classroom, a cake-loving friend at a birthday party, a new sibling (aw!) — or even a firefighter, a teacher, a baker, an astronaut, or a movie star.

Kids have the incredible ability to see beyond what a doll may look like, and use their imaginations to create great adventures they’ll always remember. (We even remember our own adventures with our own dolls from childhood — some going back as long as Corolle has been around!)

And of course, pretend play lets kids practice all of the other skills here, which are all so essential to their social, emotional and physiological development .

2. Baby dolls help establish nurturing, empathy and kindness.Why baby dolls are important to our kids' health, growth and well-being | Ibidunni + "Bubbles" © Ibidunni Ojikutu

Ibidunni took Bubbles to Santa Fe, NM in 1985…and basically everywhere else

When your child dresses a doll, tucks a doll into a carriage, sings the doll to sleep, or bathes the doll (even if the doll wasn’t made for the bath, whoops!) it’s all a demonstration of kindness. There’s something just so incredible about seeing a young child put on a bandage when the baby “has a boo-boo” or sing a lullaby because “the baby is scared.” It’s like we’re seeing the first signs of true empathy appear right before our eyes.

And if you’ve got a new baby in the house, a baby doll allows your older child to emulate the caregiving they see in you. Which is why our toy chests are packed with baby doll accessories like strollers, feeding sets, and mini strollers, ha.

Even the littlest children love getting to “be” good moms and dads too.

3. Baby dolls helps kids become responsible

The benefits of baby dolls for kids | Here's Liza M with her Corolle baby doll a few decades ago!
Liza M rocking her Corolle baby doll to sleep

Kids start to learn real responsibility when they have a doll — not just the imaginary kind. You may notice it starts with imaginary play actions like covering the baby doll with a blanket, but only up to the doll’s shoulders. Or putting the doll into a tiny high chair at the dinner table. (How cute is this doll high chair!)

But as kids grow, they learn how to really take care of the doll — like keeping it dry (if it’s not made for the bath), making sure the clothes are on properly, or even storing it in a special place to keep it safe.

Seeing that sweet, realistic baby face means your child will see the baby doll as having more realistic baby needs than even other stuffed friends they may love.

4. Baby dolls help children process emotions.7 proven benefits of playing with baby dolls | © Christina Burrows Refford for Cool Mom Picks

Our contributor Caroline getting her cuddle on with her favorite doll

As your kid becomes verbal, you’ll learn that the baby is angry, the baby is sad, the baby is happy, the baby is feeling silly. Coincidentally — your child may be feeling the same way. It’s remarkable to see how kids gain emotional growth by projecting their own emotions onto a doll, as a way to learn to manage, express, and understand feelings.

5. Baby dolls teach social skills7 reasons why kids need baby dolls: Socialization

Bridget and Juliette playing with Baby Baby

When children are old enough to start playing with dolls together — even if they’re simply co-playing, side-by-side — they are learning important social skills like sharing, listening, taking turns, solving problems, and eventually, collaboration. In fact, we think a lot of adults could solve problems too, if we just played with some dolls together. (Yes, we’re serious.)

6. Baby dolls help kids gain developmental skills like language, and fine/gross motor skills7 reasons kids need dolls: They help with communication skills | Cool Mom Picks

Our assoociate editor Kate’s son Hayes being a cool dad

We still remember overhearing our toddlers in cribs singing at night to their dolls. Rocking them for naps. Reading to their dolls. Or waking up in the morning, determined to change the baby doll’s clothes, with their tiny, chubby little fingers. All of these activities are opportunities to practice developmental skills in a free-form, open-ended way.

Educational opportunities don’t always come from STEM toys or mommy-and-me classes! Sometimes, all it takes is the love for a doll and the chance to take care of it.

7. Baby dolls build beautiful memories

Collectively, our team probably has a hundred sweet, funny, wonderful stories about our kids and their dolls — and about a zillion photos as evidence. As kids grow up, they may not remember their preschool classmates’ names, or their favorite foods, but we can assure you, even our tweens and teens always remember the dolls they loved.

And we remember ours too.

The Fiaria Project helps transition foster kids to families

We love that Corolle provides kits like this one to the The Fiaria Project , to help foster kids to help ease their transition. Shown here with Kristen’s daughter. 

A huge happy birthday wish to our sponsor Corolle! We’re so honored to be a part of your big celebration, and we know so many families will appreciate your generosity. 

All photos © the owners and used with permission