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Dolls: The Best Toys for Boys?


Baby girls prefer pink and boys like blue, right? That's not necessarily true, according to a recent study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. The researchers looked at babies' preferences for colors, gender-stereotyped toys and the shapes of toys. In head-to-head pairings, neither pink nor blue won among babies. (As it turns out, both boys and girls favored red.) As far as toys, 12-month-old girls and boys were both drawn to dolls, so there goes the old adage.

This is the latest report to suggest there are few differences in the preferences of baby girls and boys. "How do you determine what your children are most interested in if you haven't exposed them to a variety of choices?" asks Tufts University child development professor Fred Rothbaum Ph.D, president of the Child & Family WebGuide. Experts agree it's OK for boys to have dolls and girls to play with cars or trucks. In fact, they encourage it, reminding parents that hands-on play of any kind encourages a child's imagination and teaches new skills.

"It seems as though parents do their darndest to socialize girls to like pink and boys to like blue," Rothbaum says. Instead, parents should do more to give their children choices. Eventually, he says,"Strong biological preferences will still emerge over time."