Once in a blue moon, I have a parenting crisis that shakes my soul. It always arrives when life hits a lull and I finally have time to think—or, more accurately, my mind has time to wander into an anxious spiral. And always, without fail, that crisis centers around one nagging question: You mean to tell me that I’m responsible for showing these tiny humans how to live in the world?
Honestly, did your heart rate just pick up too?
Consider this: Every move we make as parents, from the words we choose to the books we read to the toys we buy, means something. All of our small choices amount to shaping the grown and hopefully functioning adults our children will one day become. For example, how we stock our children’s spaces—what characters, cultures, and faces they see during play—will go a long way toward teaching them what is “typical” or “normal” to see in the world. Think of it that way and what once felt like a small shopping decision is anything but.
What’s more, for parents of children with limb differences, different abilities, or families who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, introducing kids to toys that look like them can be life-changing. Something as simple as a doll can help a child feel validated and worthy when it breaks the mold and actually attempts to look like them.
To that end, we’ve combed the virtual toy aisles to bring you 16 totally lovable dolls that celebrate our differences, from the color of our skin to the texture of our hair to differences in our abilities. Read on for some of our favorites.
All of American Girl's Truly Me Dolls can be fully customized to look like any child—a truly special gift!
With a soft, huggable body and washable hair for easy styling, little ones will love playing with this Kennedy doll from inclusive brand The Fresh Dolls.
This doll is completely customizable with buyers choosing its clothing, hairstyles, and style of glasses!
Sold for classrooms but perfect for home too, these multicultural dolls can help young children begin to understand diversity in cultures.
Nora is one of multiple dolls from the Las Amigas collection from woman-owned business, Minikane.
Playing with dolls is fun for any gender, and Tyler is the newest member of the Our Generation Equestrian Collection at Target.
Select Celia's custom outfit, wardrobe, and even a matching outfit for your child, from woman-owned brand Hazel Village.
Mia is crafted from cotton with brown yarn hair and sweet embroidered features. Plus, she comes with a removable rainbow hair clip and a sun-shaped wand.
This sweet handmade doll would make a wonderful gift or keepsake for imaginative play and storytelling.
Handmade peg dolls can be customized and sold in sets of three, six, or nine. Children can role play using dolls representing children from different backgrounds, with different skin tones, hair colors, abilities, and more.
This Barbie comes with a full-functioning wheelchair to showcase that the more representation we have with Barbies, the better.
These heirloom quality dolls with hand-painted faces are available in a range of skin tones and hair textures.
This adorable Marlow doll comes with both a guide dog and a cane to assist her.
This doll is built to inspire creative role play in your kiddos, with a removable outfit, a pacifier, hair, and other fun features.
Take 20% off your first order with code 20EVERYMOM!
A realistic baby doll that is not only safe to bring into the tub for bath time, but is also vanilla scented!
This article was originally published in 2020 and has been updated for timeliness.