top of page

Try This Awesome Empathy Building Game For Toddlers

Do you care for young children? Thank you so much for topping by. I hope I can provide something for you that you can use today.

If you care for very young children, you probably know a few things about empathy and how it can be built.

Young children need to see, hear and do empathetic acts during their earliest years.



The benefits of empathy can be elusive yet enduring. And providing developmentally appropriate activities for toddlers can be challenging. We need a PLAN in order to know where to start.

Here's one of my favorite experiences that I originally learned from Dr. Becky Bailey and her book Baby Doll Circle Time, (referenced below). Since that time I've adapted it to fit my own approach and style.

Baby Doll Caring Time

This really works and its a lot of fun. I like to present it during an extended playtime and give the children the option to come over or not. Some may watch for a while or pretend to ignore but they'll be joining in soon, especially if you present it often and make it fun.

Start by singing an upbeat toddler-friendly song as you carry out a big basket of dolls. I use Simba, Simba from Sesame Street,( referenced below). It's a good idea to start with the same song each time you provide the experience. It's an auditory cue for them.

It might be wise for you to use identical or similar dolls to avoid conflict or to just use so many dolls everyone gets a choice. Whatever works for you.

Put the basket down and ask the children who seem interested to choose a baby to care for. Choose a doll for yourself and show them what to do!

Start by singing to your doll and/or asking the children about their babies. See if you can engage them in a little conversation about their dolls. Or just let them do their thing quietly.

Sample questions

  • How's your dolly today, Howie?

  • Does your baby need a diaper change, Emily?

  • Sheldon, remember that little song you liked when I used to change your diaper? Now you can sing it to your little baby!

  • Your baby's sick, Bernie? What will you do? Go to the doctor? Good idea. Hope he feels better!

Things to try

  • Sing Itsy Bitsy Spider to your baby doll with hand motions.

  • Hold your baby's face close to yours and sing or talk quietly.

  • Grab a short board book and set your baby on your lap to read it to them.

  • Put your baby to sleep.

  • Allow toddlers to drift from the and the group and take babies with them if they like.

  • Encourage them to extend their baby doll play in other areas of the room if they still seem interested.

  • At clean up start by saying, "Time for babies to nap. There all so tired from playing. Bring them to the baby basket for their naps, now!

  • Sing Good Night Babies to any tune you like.

  • Since toddlers are so young, you might have to bring the basket over to them and show them how to put the babies in!

  • That was so helpful, Raj. Now your baby can rest her body and her brain.

  • Now we can start on the rest of the room! As soon as were done we get to play outside in the sunshine and snow!

This is just a basic framework for your experience with toddlers. Adjust it as you like.

You might provide props like play diapers, bottles or blankies. Make sure you provide multiples and possibly identical items so toddlers don't have to share more than they're able!

Also think about their developmental level when providing props. If your toddlers need too much help with an item, you may get frustrated trying to help them. It may be better to just forget about diapers and use pretend ones if your toddlers can't manage them without frustration.

Have fun!!!!


Becky Bailey, Baby Doll Circle Time

Sesame Street, Simba, Simba

related articles by Nanci j Bradley

Nanci J Bradley is an early childhood and family educator, author, teacher, family aerobics instructor, and an all-around fun-loving person. She believes in the power of sleep, healthy eating, lifelong learning, and most of all, PLAY!  (click on the word) She studied early childhood ed at Triton College and received her BS in education in 1986 from NIU. She received her MA in human development from Pacific Oaks College in 2011. She has presented at statewide and nationwide conferences. She lives and teaches in Madison WI.

15 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page