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A brighter future for kids with brain cancers.

How Dolls and Toy Animals Can Help Sick Kids Cope

Being sick is scary. Nobody enjoys staying in a hospital, regardless of age. Whether your child is receiving treatment or in recovery, it can be physically and mentally exhausting.  

Thankfully, there are many ways you can help your little one go through this difficult time. Something as simple as dolls and toy animals can greatly impact your child’s well-being. 

A toy provides reassurance. It is something familiar in the world of unknowns. Sick children certainly do not have the easiest path to walk, so they often tend to withdraw and need help to overcome their insecurity, timidity, and excessive seclusion. 

This is where dolls come in. They play a special role in developing the ability to understand one’s relationship with others, their feelings, and their moods. 

Parents often feel helpless in the face of illnesses that affect children, even more so if the illness is cancer.  

While medical outcomes are in the hands of doctors, there is much we as a society can do to help the youngest patients in our communities. Donating even one new toy can help make a child’s hospital stay brighter and less frightening. 

Nowadays, special toys are designed to help young patients cope, bearing in mind that they must be small and brand new, as sick children have fragile immune systems. 

Can a toy really make a difference? Several studies have shown that they do have a positive impact. Toys help healthcare workers build trust in young patients, reduce physical symptoms of anxiety, and can even speed up the healing process.  Here is what researchers have found. 

Toys Help Children Cope with the Unknown 

Undergoing a medical procedure is a risky step into the unknown, even for adults, so it is safe to say that it is even scarier for children. Having toys in the hospital environment can ease some of that stress. You’ll often see teddy bears accompanying children to blood tests. It may seem like a small thing, but it can make all the difference for the little ones.  

Toys Help Children Feel Included 

Nowadays, many toys are created to make children less scared about the changes they have to go through, both physically and mentally. A beautiful example is Brave Barbie Dolls, which are bald and come with two wigs and a head scarf. They showcase that hair loss is common among cancer patients and is nothing to be ashamed of.  

Similarly, wonderful cancer ‘paper dress up’ magnet sets are available at BitsyAtwold, which don’t just include traditional clothes but also a hospital gown, oxygen mask, eye pats, and syringe. 

 Toys Help Children Get Acquainted with Medical Equipment 

Often, young patients have no experience with being sedated or having an actual medical procedure. Dolls can help little ones understand what they should expect. That’s why specially-designed educational toys such as Legacy Dolls are sometimes used to demonstrate to the child how a procedure will be carried out and what kind of equipment is needed. 

After the hands-on lesson, the little ones are calmer and more relaxed on the day of the surgery. 

Toys Help with Anxiety 

Paediatric patients struggle with the sometimes-overwhelming fear of pain, the unknown, and, in the case of cancer, death. Not to mention the added discomfort of being separated from their loved ones. 

Children can role-play their way through situations that make them nervous by using toys. They can act out scenarios that worry them, freely expressing their fears and anxieties. Toys like Chemo Duck are great because they allow children to gain confidence in the hospital setting and learn to trust the medical staff.  

Through medical play, children get a sense of comfort. Whether that’s placing a feeding tube, getting a catheter, or even being in medical surroundings, they’ll have less anxiety because they have already experienced it through a doll.  

According to scientists, children who need surgery feel less stressed if they participate in pre-operative play. They don’t harbour unwanted emotions that can affect both the surgery and the post-surgery process.  Playing creates a positive mood for children and enables them to cope with the circumstances imposed on them by the hospital and thoughts of cancer.  

Toys Motivate Children to Improve Their Health 

Toys can encourage children to move forward and not lose hope. They not only distract the patient from the negative but are also a great source of entertainment.   

Playing allows children to understand their feelings and to share them with others, which makes the hospital stay less negative and prevents the possibility of emotional trauma.  


The value that children place on toys cannot be overestimated. A doll or a stuffed animal can become a best friend and a much-needed distraction from boredom or fear of the unknown. 



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