Doll play has long been a central part of children's development. However, this form of play takes on an even more significant role in the hospital environment, especially when it comes to children facing medical procedures or long-term care. By integrating soft dolls representing the sick children into play therapy, hospital staff can effectively and educationally prepare and help children process their experiences.

This blog post will explore the importance of doll play as a form of play therapy in hospitals, focusing on the use of soft dolls.

Emotional support through representation

Soft dolls representing sick children play a critical role in providing emotional support. Children can often feel lonely and isolated in the hospital environment, surrounded by unfamiliar people and equipment. By giving them dolls that reflect their own experiences, children can feel less alone. These dolls become not only friends but also companions who 'share' the child's illness experience. It creates a sense of togetherness in an otherwise abnormal situation.

Preparation and processing of medical procedures

One of the most significant uses of puppetry in hospitals is the preparation and processing of medical procedures. Understanding and processing what is going to happen can be challenging for children. By using dolls and puppet theater, the healthcare staff can explain processes, interventions and treatments in a simple and empathetic way. The children can 'perform' the procedure on the dummy first, which helps them understand what will happen and reduces fear and anxiety.

Play therapy as a tool for expression

Children often express themselves through play, and dolls can serve as a medium for this expression. In a hospital setting, where children may struggle to verbalize their feelings, puppetry can offer an alternative avenue of communication. By observing how a child interacts with a doll, therapists and health care professionals can gain insights into the child's emotional state and possible concerns. This can be crucial in providing targeted psychological support and understanding the child's individual needs.

Strengthening coping mechanisms

Coping with illness and hospitalizations can be challenging for children. Doll play can play a vital role in strengthening coping mechanisms. By playing out different scenarios, the children can feel a sense of control over their situation, something that is often limited in a hospital environment. This sense of control and the ability to 'practice' situations before they occur can reduce stress and contribute to a more positive hospital experience.


The use of soft dolls in hospital play therapy offers a powerful method to prepare, support and help children through their hospital stays. These dolls are not just toys; they are therapeutic tools that can be used to facilitate communication, offer emotional support, and help children process and prepare for medical procedures. By recognizing and integrating the value of doll play into hospital care, we can make children's hospital experiences less frightening and more manageable, which in turn can contribute to faster recovery and better psychological well-being.

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