There’s something uniquely special about the memories created by playing with a precious doll’s house as a child. After all, there’s a reason that dollhouses have been cherished for centuries!
Today, doll houses come in a never-ending range of colors, shapes, and sizes but the biggest two categories are certainly wood vs plastic. While plastic dollhouses can be cheaper to purchase, wooden dollhouses are a far better investment overall.
Made from stronger materials, wooden doll houses will last a lifetime (or ten), meaning if your child grows out of it, the house can be sold or passed on as an heirloom. What’s more, their elegant designs are simply much more aesthetically pleasing for adults making a beautiful addition to your home.
Wood is also a much safer material to have around your children both thanks to its natural state and stronger structure. Plastic doll houses can easily break, creating sharp jagged edges that are more than capable of doing some serious damage.
Benefits of Playing With a Dollhouse
While typically seen as a little girl’s toy, playing with dollhouses has a large range of benefits for all genders including developing fine motor skills as well as engaging your child’s imagination and creativity.
Creating stories using dolls also fosters social and emotional maturity as your child encounters different dynamics in the dollhouse.
In addition to this, some other life skills that can be developed by playing with a dollhouse include classification and organizational skills as children learn where to put furniture and other items inside the house.
What Age is Appropriate for a Dollhouse?
A wooden dollhouse can be used from around 3 years old and up although the age is entirely dependent on your child’s developmental stage.
Both girls and boys play with dollhouses in their ways. A dollhouse doesn’t mean it needs dolls to be played with dolls. My boys often reach for their Paw Patrol toys, Calico critters, or even their superhero figurines… which makes sense because even Spiderman has to eat and sleep somewhere 😉
Some 2.5-year-olds will already have the dexterity and maturity needed to play with small items while other kids might not be ready until age 4 or 5.
If you are buying a doll house for a toddler, make sure to look for something that is made with youngsters in mind and the components are generally a little different to those made for older children.
Before you Buy: What or Who Do You Want to Put in Your Dollhouse?
Outside of choosing between wooden or plastic for your doll’s house, you also need to consider the size of your doll’s house in order to pick the best one for your child.
Dollhouses come in a large range of sizes however there are a few main scales that can help you determine what toys will fit inside. It’s best to choose a house scale that will work with the majority of dolls your child already has so you don’t need to buy more.
Scales are measured in inches so in a 1:6 doll house, 1 inch of the doll house is equivalent to 6 inches in real life.
Common doll house size scales:
- 1:6 for Barbies and bigger dolls
- 1:12 for Hape houses and furniture (IKEA Flisat is this scale)
- 1:16 for Sylvanian Families / Calico Critters *
* Calico Critters can work with 1:12 scale or 1:16 scale, but that isn’t always entirely accurate as they have shorter legs and don’t fit properly into any scale.
Which scale is best for my child?
This completely depends on the age of your child, their fine motor skills, and how gentle they are in their play.
I could trust my son with regular Legos (instead of Duplo) at 3.5 years old, but when some of his 4.5-year-old friends come over we often need to hide them because they don’t have the fine motor skills and patience for it just yet and end up destroying it.
Many furniture sets come with miniature accessories like cups and books and if you have a child under 3 it can be a choking hazard, but even if your child isn’t mouthing things you might want to wait as these little pieces get lost easily.
Do Barbies fit in KidKraft houses?
The 1:6 doll house scale is sometimes called the Fashion Doll scale and they are suited to Barbie or similar 30cm tall dolls.
Best Wooden Doll Houses
Best Classic Dollhouse: Coco Village
This beautiful and simple doll house is a great addition to any playroom and can easily be customized to your child’s taste.
While it’s not to scale, the interior rooms are between 29 – 23 cm tall so dolls around 7 cm can fit inside.
Coco Village also sells a large range of furniture sets that are designed in different styles to complement the house, so your child can be their own little interior designer
Deluxe Wooden Dollhouse: Kidkraft
If you’re looking for a wooden dollhouse with all the bells and whistles, this huge 8-room dollhouse comes with 34 accessories and even has a working elevator.
At 4.5″ tall it’s important to note that many 3-year-old or shorter children may not be able to reach the top floors so it may be suited best to older kids.
Fitting the 1:12 scale, this dollhouse is great for Barbies and other fashion dolls and there are plenty of interesting accessories for your kids to incorporate into their stories.
Best Budget Doll House: Magnolia
Another wooden dollhouse that fits a more classic style, the Magnolia dollhouse suits dolls around 4 inches tall with room heights of about 10″.
The house comes with 10 pieces of matching furniture that can be arranged to suit your child’s preferences and the opening doors mean it can be played with from both sides.
At half the price of the Coco Village Dollhouse, this is a great budget alternative with a very similar look.
Most Unique Dollhouse: Treehouse
For those of you who are looking for something a little different from the classic wooden dollhouse, this cool treehouse design is sure to be a winner.
This freestanding doll house features two porches, a tire swing, and a slide in addition to the large central room.
Suited to dolls around 3 inches tall, the treehouse measures 22.44″ (H) x 21.85″ (W) x 15.95″ (D).
Best DIY Kit: Greenleaf Fairfield Dollhouse
This 3 story Victorian-style house has 6 different rooms, fireplaces, and a wrap-around porch to a realistic 1:24 scale.
But the best bit about this beautiful dollhouse is that you get to build it yourself. With tab and slot components, you only need glue to create this wooden masterpiece.
What’s more, the pieces come unpainted so you can decorate the home entirely to your own preferences.
This dollhouse is mostly suited to older children, teenagers, and adults who are more interested in decorating it for display rather than playing with it.
Best Dollhouse Shelf: Wildkin Dollhouse Bookcase
This dollhouse combines the benefits of Montessori toy storage with a convenient dollhouse that is great for kids who don’t play very often.
With a size of 33 x 12 x 22 inches and 6 distinct rooms, it’s a great height so your child can reach all the shelves while still being able to fit all their favorite toys.
The 1:12 scale is also a good middle range when it comes to suitability for a range of dolls.