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Don’t Hate on ‘Em: These Dollhouses Really Are Stellar Toys for Kids

They help kids learn empathy and problem-solving skills.

You might sneer at dollhouses for kids and to be honest, we’d be hard-pressed to blame you. Many dollhouses are usually mind-bogglingly massive, gaudy eyesores that traffic in dated princess tropes. But here’s the thing: Dollhouses like the ones below are actually a great investment because playing with dolls, and caring for them in their domiciles, teaches kids some fairly major lessons about life, play, and the world around them.

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 which is a fancy way of saying that 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.

Here are some of the best ones to consider.

Fatherly IQ
  1. How stir crazy do your kids get on indoor days?
    Not very. They like being inside.
    For a time, they’re content. But they need to be occupied.
    Very. They’re like caged animals.
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Plan Toys Wooden Dollhouse

A flawless and flawlessly executed dollhouse that lets kids' imaginations do the work.

You could get a gaudy dollhouse overflowing with decor. But remember, the more the dollhouse does, the less your kid has to do. A basic wooden structure like this one fires up kids’ imaginations so they can make it whatever they want it to be.

KidCraft Dollhouses

A truly glorious wooden dollhouse for kids three and up.

We’d love to live here, too. This KidCraft dollhouse is four and a half feet tall. It has eight room, comes with 34 pieces of furniture, and has a moving elevator. Best of all, it’s spacious enough to encourage collaborative play, meaning two or more kids can play together.

Here's a three-level dollhouse for the space-challenged, with plenty of detailing to make up for what it lacks in size.

A piano! A deluxe tub! This is a cottage in name only and comes with 17 pieces of furniture, plus windows that open and close.

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

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.

LOL Dollhouses

This is pretty much the ultimate house on wheels for any LOL fan.

Not only does this thing come with 55 surprises, including an exclusive doll, but it has 10, count ’em 10, hangout areas. That includes bunk beds, a light-up pool, a slide, a fashion runway, a BBQ patio where they can grill some steaks, and a DJ booth. The front of the glamper detaches and becomes a separate car with a working horn.

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. It’s almost three feet tall and three feet wide. Translation: It’s big. Make that, 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.

Fisher-Price Dollhouses

The ultimate starter dollhouse, this fold-out dwelling is suitable for kids ages 12 months and up. The furniture throughout the six rooms is mostly built in, though it does come with a bed, two stools, and dog bowl, as well as two Little People (a boy and a girl) and a dog.

As with other Little People toys, noises are a key part of the fun: Kids can press various buttons and hear positive sayings like “we make a great team” as well as fun sounds like the toilet flushing and a dog barking. The theme here is working together to help around the house. Kids can practice doing tasks like feeding the dog and putting away toys, which flip out of sight when you hit a button (if only real life was like that).

Another Fisher-Price dollhouse we love, this one has four floors and six rooms. It even has a balcony.

This dollhouse is meant for kids three older. In addition to the aforementioned features, there’s a swing set, with a baby seat. It opens wide and folds easily for storage. Plus it has a doggy door.

This talking dollhouse helps kids learn more than 50 songs and phrases.

This offering from Fisher-Price has flushing toilet, a talking alarm clock, and a fridge that lights up. It’s a great option for younger kids to play with the same “real world” stuff they see their parents using.

Melissa & Doug Dollhouses

This dollhouse, meant for older kids, features 19 individually hand-painted wood pieces of working furniture.

Great for kids three 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 to.

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 Dollhouses

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 no 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.

This wooden three-story house, suitable for age 3 and up, has seven rooms, a garage and two balconies.

Parents loved the gender-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 four inches tall.

Barbie Dollhouse

If Cribs filmed an episode dedicated to Barbie, this house would be front and center. The dollhouse is three feet tall by four 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. 

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