Historically, dolls haven’t been very diverse. This is true in regard to race and ethnicity as well as medical differences and conditions. When kids first start to play with dolls or stuffed animals, they often imagine those make-believe beings as extensions of themselves. As they get older, those toys become friends. Kids deserve to have representation that looks like them, not just in hair color, eye color, and skin color, but in medical gear!
Many people in our community make stuffed animals or dolls with central lines, ostomies, G-tubes, etc. This way, kids can educate others without having to point to their own bodies. These kinds of inclusive toys promote confidence, body positivity, and self-acceptance, especially as they age.
For anyone who wants to purchase an already made “Just like me” toy, check out these four fantastic companies and organizations below.
Four Medically Inclusive Toy Companies
1. Bitsy Atwood
This children’s toy company serves parents and clinicians whose children and patients are largely forgotten about in the toy industry. For example, this magnetic doll set was created for all the Tubies out there as part of an ongoing series of magnets that illustrate the different realities of having a feeding tube.
Request a stuffed animal from Tubie Friends, and they’ll provide a furry fellow who has the same tubes and stomas as your child — for free! For kids who have or are receiving a feeding tube, having a friend by their side with the same medical equipment can make the process less scary.
This nonprofit organization wants kids to learn to celebrate their differences and see themselves — feeding tubes and all — reflected in their toys. Order a custom doll through Facebook!
4. Meadow Toys
This Etsy shop calls itself a “Toy store where everyone is welcome.” They can customize dolls to look just like your child, including any scars, ostomies, feeding tubes, and G-tubes. While they’re not taking any orders right now, they’ll be back open by mid-January.
Gus Gear: The Gift That Keeps On Giving
We hope your holiday is merry and bright but remember — if it’s a little less shiny or festive than you’d like it to be, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth celebrating. Here at Gus Gear, we raise a glass to all you parents and caregivers, working hard day in and day out to give your kids the love, care, and representation they deserve.