Child psychologists have long recognized the therapeutic power of the dollhouse — home is the natural center of a child’s life, so the dollhouse is the perfect place to work out big emotions on a manageable scale. The best dollhouses for kids offer a stage on which to enact dramas, create new narratives, or experiment with different or “better” endings to real-life sagas. And with dollhouses for toddlers, play shrinks down the familiar elements of everyday life and puts them squarely in a world they can customize and control. Not too big, not too small, but “just right,” detailed wood dollhouses give kids a whole universe to explore — without having to step outside.
Especially in times of stress or uncertainty, dollhouses let kids escape, play, and express their fears and fantasies in a tiny cosmos of their own design. And because life under the coronavirus lockdown can feel like life in a giant dollhouse, its therapeutic value to adults shouldn’t be underestimated either.
The child development experts at Zero to Three encourage doll-play because caring for others helps younger kids learn empathy. Not to mention that pretend play with dolls helps kids develop language and literacy skills, problem-solving skills, and the ability to sequence events. Bonus: Dollhouses are ideal for collaborative play, letting kids share and take turns.
Before choosing a dollhouse, consider the age of your children (small parts are a no-no for toddlers), how much space you have before you invest in a behemoth that needs its own room, and whether you want easy-to-clean plastic or more solid wood. Wood dollhouses can look like miniature design masterpieces, but they’re also, by and large, pricier than their plastic counterparts. There are doll mansions, high rises, fold-and-go domiciles, and modern and traditional dollhouses to consider — but they all give equal space to kids’ imaginations.
The Best Wood Dollhouses, Period
You can't get much better than this classic dollhouse, which encourages role-playing without relying on any gender tropes. A stunningly simple yet totally beautiful dollhouse, this one from Hape has zero gender-specific princess detailing, which we absolutely love. It's a three-story dollhouse with six rooms. Kids can easily move furniture and appliances around.
Here's a three-level dollhouse for the space-challenged, with plenty of detailing to make up for what it lacks in size. Two molded plastic staircases Three levels of open space 17 pieces of furniture Windows that open and close Large enough that multiple children can play at once Accommodates 4-inch mini dolls.
Made from a combo of engineered wood, MDF and solid wood, this three-story house has a shingled roof, white wood finish, black shutters and a front porch, while the back is open for access to five rooms and a spiral staircase. It's sleek. It's elegant. It's a great toy for anyone and everyone.
Looking like something out of Architectural Digest, this intricate two-story wood dollhouse has an open-plan living space screaming to be decorated. It's made of sustainable Baltic birch plywood and solid North, and has a sweeping, dramatic entryway. It's 19 inches tall.
Talk about a glorious blank slate. This 3.3 pound two-story, five room compact wood dollhouse is just waiting for a creative toddler to give it some flavor. The wood is untreated, so your child can paint the exterior and interior. It has a brass latch and vegan leather handles.
PlanToys Wooden Dollhouses
This is a dollhouse built for the future, featuring household tools for radically reducing a house's impact on the environment. It has energy-efficient design — with solar panels, wind turbine, electric inverter, recycling gins, a rain barrel and shades to control sunlight and air circulation. And the dollhouse itself is sustainably crafted.
Tender Leaf Dollhouses
A truly glorious wooden dollhouse for kids 3 and up. We'd love to live here, too. At 4.5 feet tall, it has eight rooms, comes with 34 pieces of furniture, and a moving elevator. Best of all, it's spacious enough to encourage collaborative play, meaning two or more kids can play together.
The ideal dollhouse for those short on space, but big on details. More compact but no less gorgeous, this KidCraft dollhouse comes filled with modern furniture, and a bright, airy decor. It even has a rooftop patio that's ideal for al fresco suppers. The dollhouse fits 12 inch dolls and is ideal for smaller spaces.
This six-room, three-story LOL Surprise chalet is the ultimate in heightened luxury. If your philosophy is of the go big or go home variety, get this dollhouse, which is 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide. Translation: It's grand. It has a chimney that snows, an ice skating rink that for real freezes over, a hot tub, a working ski lift (of course), and even includes anatomically correct LOL boy dolls.
Melissa & Doug Dollhouses
This dollhouse, meant for older kids, features 19 individually hand-painted wood pieces of working furniture. Great for kids 3 and older (although we think this definitely skews even older than that), Melissa & Doug's wooden dollhouse is a multi-level wonder. It has three levels, five rooms, and comes with 19 pieces of furniture. Plus it has two movable staircases and five working exterior doors.
This Melissa & Doug miniature dollhouse is a great travel toy. This portable wooden dollhouse has working doors, comes with 11 pieces of wooden furniture, and two play figures. It has sturdy carry handles for portability, and opens fully when kids are using it. It folds closed for easy storage.
Hape Wood Dollhouses
This wooden three-story house, suitable for age 3 and up, has seven rooms, a garage and two balconies. Parents loved the neutral decor and solid-wood construction. Fun extras include moveable magnetic LED lights and a working doorbell. It comes with seven sets of furniture (including a barbecue grill), a two-dimensional pool area and a family of four dolls, all of which are around 4 inches tall.
If 'Cribs' filmed an episode dedicated to Barbie, this house would be front and center. The dollhouse is 3 feet tall by 4 feet wide, with a working elevator and a purple waterslide. If your offspring is into Barbie, just get him or her this dollhouse already. It's majestic and massive and unapologetically so. It has a home office, a carport, and a second-story pool with a slide that starts on the third floor. Yes, you can add water and you have an actual water slide. The kitchen makes cooking sounds and the toilet flushes.
Every product on Fatherly is independently selected by our editors, writers, and experts. If you click a link on our site and buy something, we may earn an affiliate commission.
This article was originally published on