If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know I try not to adhere too much to gender stereotypes. I’m more than happy for Pickle to have things that are pink, to play with dolls and enjoy anything he wants no matter whether it’s aimed at ‘boys’ or not. It’s only a little thing, but LPD and I purposefully have swapped our toothbrush colours, as I mentioned in my Father’s Day gift guide, as a subtle way of showing him that pink is not just for girls.

I’d always said that if I were to be pregnant again, I would definitely like to introduce the idea of having a sibling to Pickle by getting him his own proper doll – although, thanks to the lovely team at Carousel PR, we’ve started him off a little early (I’m not planning on any pregnancy announcements any time soon!), and he received his First Baby Annabell for his second birthday.

Unwrapping the First Baby Annabell Brother doll

Why are Dolls Important?

I think we’re starting to live in a world that is beginning to question and challenge our cultural gender stereotypes. I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir by talking about how beneficial it is for boys to feel free to play with dolls. But if you’re not sure about it, this quote I found from Karlyn Crowley, a professor of Gender Studies, says it perfectly:

Boys and families don’t have to abide by archaic gender roles that limit. Boys can learn skills of nurturing, empathy, and caretaking through doll play… boys learn social-emotional skills through doll play, skills that make them whole boys who grow up to be whole men. [Give boys] the mainstream green light to express kindness, empathy and other characteristics that aren’t usually encouraged by their toys. Real strength and fun isn’t about toughness and weapons. It’s about friendship and creativity.”

– Written by Karlyn Crowley Ph.D.

Pickle pushing his First Baby Annabell in a pushchair in the garden, in summer wearing his wellies

I wouldn’t ever want to force any kind of ideology onto Pickle. I wouldn’t force him to play with dolls, but I want him to grow up in an environment where he knows it’s perfectly normal if he wants to. I want him to have the widest range of options open to him. Interestingly, by the age of five years old, boys are already beginning to perform their idea of what it means to be masculine. By five, the damage is already done. It’s important to start them off young.

The First Baby Annabell

We were sent the First Baby Annabell Brother version: Alexander. He’s dressed in a blue romper suit that easily can be taken off and put back on again, complete with a cute little blue hat. We haven’t actually decided in our house if our doll is a boy or girl yet – we’ve just been refering to the doll as ‘Baby’ and I’ll wait and see what Pickle decides to call him or her when he’s old enough to do so! Just as we don’t want Pickle to think pink is just for girls, we also don’t want him assuming blue means boy, either.

First Baby Annabell in a pushchair, a close up of his face

The doll is a little smaller at 36cm than the standard 43cm Baby Annabell, and with its soft body, it’s more suited to younger ages from 12 months upwards. Although my First Baby Annabell doesn’t have the animated features of the main sized doll (who burps, cries, sucks on a dummy, gurgles and wees), they do have the sleeping eye fuction, which Pickle finds fascinating.

When he first opened his Baby Annabell, he was immediately fascinated by their eyes. He just kept rocking the doll back to see their eyes close, and then waking them back up again. He found it absolutely hilarious, even mimicking snoring and pretending to be surprised when the baby woke up.

Opening his First Baby Annabell on his second birthday, wearing his pyjamas

I was particularly proud of Pickle when he picked up his baby, gave it a cuddle and then exclaimed ‘Oh no! Poo!’. He picked up his cushion that he likes to lie on for his own nappy changes, put it on the floor and placed the baby down. He ran to our nappy change supplies and picked up his Johnson’s wipes, a nappy and even a nappy bag and lined up everything he needed for a change, just like LPD does.

Undressing My First Baby Annabell Brother doll, ready for a nappy change

He needed a little help to take off the romper suit, but he got there – and was a little surprised to see that baby wasn’t wearing a nappy. That’s the only thing I’d recommend as an addition to the doll if it was possible – a little nappy would be a nice touch and help make role play like this a bit more realistic. Getting Pickle involved in changing his toys’ nappies (we have so many teddies that permanently have nappies on them!) was the only way he’d not fight us when it came to nappy changes for a while.

Wiping baby's bottom with a babywipe

Giving baby's face a wash

A quick wipe down later, and baby was back dressed and nice and clean. Well done, Pickle.

So is Pickle now prepared for a Sibling?

As lovely as it is to see Pickle play so nicely with his First Baby Annabell, there’s a lot of holding them upside down by their leg, throwing them across the room and eye-poking… which makes me wonder whether it would ever be a good idea to have a newborn around. I am a little worried how much he enjoyed trying to poke their eyes – and I’ll be keeping a very close eye on him around real babies just in case he tries the same!

But that said, during the moments when he’s kind, nurturing and careful with his baby, it does give me a little glimpse into what I hope the future might hold. And I hope it all contributes to us raising a child that is loving, respectful and nurturing towards others.

Disclaimer: we were sent this First Baby Annabell toy doll for review purposes. All content, ideas and opinions remain my own, and are, as always, 100% honest.