Dolls’ Beds

There are many types of cot, crib, cradle and bed to buy for dolls. The plain, sturdy rocking cradle is still a firm favourite. These are to be found largely in educational suppliers’ catalogues rather than toy shops. Toy sellers usually say this is because there is no demand but it is more likely to be because they are rather expensive. In the nursery group there are usually several different types of cot for use both inside and outside the play house. Where there is a set of graded-size dolls there should also be a set of graded-size beds to fit them. Apart from this matched set, it is a good idea to have as many different types of bed made from as many different types of material as possible. For the child at home a collection of home-made or improvised cots should be possible. The very youngest children usually start their own collection by finding a shoe-box or cardboard carton and taking something for bedding from the ironing basket.

The basic rules are that the cot or bed should fit the doll, or at least the favourite doll; it should be light enough to carry as children usually want to move it about; should be strong and washable or have a washable cover; and it should have some way of keeping the tucked-in covers on the doll which means having some kinds of sides. Ideas which have worked well are: an oval baby basket with a lining and outside frill; a wire ‘Beanstalk’ tray covered with fabric lined with plastic foam; a tomato box (not a tomato tray) covered inside and out with strong cardboard stuck on and the corners covered with sticky paper strip then covered with a removable, washable cover made from stretch fabric; the bottom part of an old but strong suitcase with all projections removed and a loose cover put on; a very strong fibre-board carton covered with a tough fabric glued on firmly; and quickest and prettiest of all a large shopping basket with the handle removed. Rockers made from wooden coat hangers or feet made from large beads or cotton reels can be attached so long as they are made firm, but they are not strictly necessary.

Mattresses can be made from carpet underlay cut to size and suitably covered. A small piece of sheet rubber is appreciated. Sheets should be made big enough to tuck in firmly but blankets and quilts can be just large enough to lay on top. A pillow can be made in the same way as the mattress or can be the right shape ‘envelope’ of fabric stuffed with chopped plastic foam. A collection of different cots can be related by making a set of bedding for each one in the same material. This provides for a size-sorting game. Another set for each cot, quite different from each other but using only one fabric for each set (all pink, all blue, all patterned, all striped), can include a slippery set, a furry set (brushed fabric), soft wool and crisp cotton and this gives rise to a different sorting game.

Suitable storage has to be provided for spare sets of bedding and clothing. In the nursery group this may well be a drawer in the play house or if some doll activities go on outside the play house it might be wise to have a drawer in a different place. In the home a box, small suitcase or basket will do.