Yes, we’re the first to admit that baby dolls, with their empty eyes and weird skin textures, look somewhat unsettling. Ok, a lot unsettling. But kids love them, for good reason. Young children playing with dolls learn the fundamentals of nurturing and caring for others. And as older children segue into pretend play, they start to get into L.O.L. Surprise dolls and Barbie dolls, all of which help them fully engage in a fantasy world.
There’s also therapeutic value to doll play. The American Psychological Association says that when kids get angry, using dolls or stuffed animals can help parents talk to their children about their feelings and the situation that caused them to react a certain way.
See more: Best Dollhouses
Playing with dolls teaches kids to nurture, practice empathy and even work on their fine motor skills—not to mention the fact that these proto-people are are just fun, whether for solo or group play. Although some ultra-popular dolls cost the equivalent of a night at a three-star hotel, here are the best dolls under $50.
Meet the latest player in the surprise toys category. Blume Dolls sport fabulous fashion hairstyles and outfits that kids can mix and match. You just add water and see what blooms. Get it?
Kids open the pot, add water, and discover what sprouts out. And they’ll be wowed and dazzled by the surprise factor.
Designed for ages three and up, this Barbie pediatrician comes with two baby patients as well as extras like a care station, medical chart and stethoscope.
It’s wonderful to see Barbie in a role that’s more than just a fashionista, and this set offers great value for less than $20. Your child can pretend she’s a doctor, complete with her own stethoscope, two baby towels, a bottle and a medical chart.
Kids three and up can feed this Baby Alive doll an assortment of snacks using her special spoon, and watch as she eats her food.
The set includes a snack shaper, to prep the food, and of course, a diaper for the eventual defecation of said food. Kids can have fun removing the baby’s diaper, cleaning it out, and perhaps learning about the joys of potty training.
This Baby Alive doll talks when you flip a switch. She's bilingual, speaking in both English and Spanish. And she'll tell you when she's ready to go potty.
This Baby Alive doll is the perfect toy for kids who are potty-training. If your kid gives her a bottle, she’ll pee on her potty and get a sticker as a reward. There’s even a pretend soap dispenser to teach personal hygiene. This doll is great for kids three and up.
The Monster High Garden Ghouls Treesa Thornwillow doll is a monster doll who turns into a play set as kids spread out her branches and open her trunk.
In the alternative universe of Monster High, cool ghouls hang out and have a good time. The dolls, as we’re sure you know, are quite popular. This one is particularly engaging because when kids twist the knob in the her lower back, her torso grows and her branches extend and spread out. It’s great for kids six and older.
Bees are having a rough go of it, and anything that boosts awareness of their plight is OK by us. And that's why we're into this beekeeper Barbie, who has an actual job that matters.
Ideal for kids three and older, this beekeeper Barbie comes with her own beehive. Plus, red and pink flowers, as well as the top of the beehive frame, have slots that can hold bees to play out pollination, showing kids just how much of a crucial role they play in our ecosystem.
If you've been living in a yurt, maybe you've missed the madness of L.O.L. Surprise dolls. This set in particular includes an exclusive L.O.L. Surprise doll and her pet. Kids can unbox six more surprises by opening surprise balls and digging through kinetic sand to find them.
Kids three and older can dig through kinetic sand or plunk it in the water to unearth the surprises inside this case, which also doubles as a purse.
Water babies will be into this Baby Born doll, which actually swims on her own in the tub. The set includes a bathing suit, goggles, flippers, hair clips, and a comb.
When you put this doll in water, she’ll automatically move her arms. It’s a nice doll especially for kids leery of learning to swim. She’s suitable for kids three and older.
A heroine who saves her people? Who is brave, strong, and fearless? This is a doll we can get behind. And this Moana doll is wearing her signature look from the film.
Kids three and up can learn all about breaking the rules for the right reasons with this Moana doll, who saves her people when her island is threatened by darkness.
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