Tapping into a child’s imagination as an adult can sometimes feel like trying to walk through Alice’s looking glass (impossible) and, sometimes, kids can feel that blockage, too. To the naked eye, a pile of dolls is just that: a pile of dolls. But that’s where doll playsets come in.
Now, you might assume pre-staged settings would shut down a child’s imagination in favor of what’s already in front of them, but that’s not the case. In fact, they do the opposite: Doll playsets offer children a kind of foundation that their imaginations can build off of. They encourage your child to create worlds and scenarios of their own, and teach them what it means to play (both solo and with others).
Plus, if nothing else, doll sets are screen-free playthings that will keep kids occupied for hours — which pretty much solidifies them as the type of gift we think every mom can get behind. From doctor’s offices to enchanting forests, fire houses and traditional homes, no matter what age group, there’s a doll set to match your child’s interest.
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1. Barbie Careers Baby Doctor Playset
Does your little one love examining the scrapes on her knees? Do they wear their plastic toy stethoscope like a necklace? You might have a future doctor on your hands, and what better way to subtly encourage a medical career path than with this Barbie Baby Doctor playset?
Fresh off the Barbie Careers collection, your little one can get a taste of the medical field with this doctor playset that features an exam table and examination accessories such as a stethoscope, two baby towels, two baby bottles and a medical chart. This miniature doctor’s office also comes with patients: two baby dolls that need TLC ASAP. With a uniform of teal scrubs and white shoes to boot, Barbie and your little doctor-in-training are more than prepared to take on whatever ailments come their way.
2. KidKraft Everyday Heroes Playset
If you think Barbie’s dreamhouse is cool, check out this Everyday Heroes playset from KidKraft. The three-story walkup is a mansion made for everyday heroes like firefighters and policemen who are always on the clock. The floor plan features 12 fully furnished rooms, plus a floor-to-ceiling firefighter’s pole — which, in our opinion, is much cooler than an elevator.
Bendable firefighter and police figurines and their three vehicles (a helicopter, police motorcycle and fire truck) also come with the set, as well as one spotted Dalmatian to hold down the fort when nobody’s home and ride along in the truck when backup is needed on the job. What’s more, the entire contraption folds up, so cleanup and storage is easy when playtime is through.
3. Shopkins Happy Places Rainbow Beach House
If your little one is as obsessed with tiny grocery store items as the rest of the world, than they’ll love this exclusive doll set from the Shopkins collection. The Happy Places Rainbow Beach House is a brightly colored, two-story vacation spot where Shoppies and their friends (aka your children) go to chill when the school day is over. It features a living room, bedroom and upstairs patio. Your little one can decorate with five furniture pieces, such as a lounge chair and jacuzzi. Just be aware that practically everything in the Happy Places Rainbow Beach House dons a smiley face, which can be kind of creepy in the dark.
4. Fisher-Price Little People Surprise & Sounds Home Playset
If you’re looking for a traditional doll playset, this Fisher-Price house is a winner. The classic dollhouse includes a front door that actually opens and closes, working appliances such as an oven and refrigerator, and furniture including beds and a dining room table. But while we love a doll set that comes fully furnished, the highlight of the Little People’s home isn’t the props, but rather the 50 sounds, songs and phrases they make to engage your child.
Mom, dad and Emma dollies live in a busy house that’s always bustling with one noise or another. Prompt your child to press Emma’s alarm clock and they’ll be met with sounds like “Rrring!” and ‘Time to get out of bed, sleepyhead!” The toilet flushes, the refrigerator lights up and a music player plays four fun tunes your child can dance along to with their dolls.
5. Enchantimals Cozy Deer House Playset
For the child whose imagination often takes them to fantastical worlds and has them creating magical creatures, the Enchantimals Cozy Deer House Playset is the perfect match. Danessa Deer and Sprint welcome your little one into their sweet home where imagination meets the wild with a two-foot-tall woodland home that’s clad in bright pink construction, teal doors, a ladder and big golden antlers topping the roof. The whimsical space is decorated floor to ceiling with pieces of furniture and quaint details, like Deer’s darling tea set and cooking utensils. In addition to plenty of windows, there’s also a balcony for outdoor hangs, while a cozy couch in the living room encourages lounging.