paperdolls

Anatomically correct printable paper dolls

Inside: Unsure about how to start talking to your child about the different body parts? These cute paper dolls (that happen to be anatomically correct) will help you get started.

Here are some free printable paper dolls that are a little different because they are anatomically correct! Yes, they have private body parts i.e. a penis and a vulva. And yes, dolls with ‘all their bits’ are controversial and some parents tend to get very upset about them!

These anatomically correct paper dolls are a great sex education teaching resource that you can use with your child. They are perfect for starting natural conversations with your child about their body. They also provide you with an opportunity for the kids to practice their fine motor skills with colouring-in and cutting out!

Plus it is a great activity to keep them amused on a rainy Sunday afternoon!

Download your own free paperdolls NOW!

Why you should have anatomically correct paper dolls

There are a few reasons why children should have anatomically correct dolls.

First of all, we all have genitals. By hiding them in toys, we are giving kids the unspoken message that their genitals are shameful and should be hidden. Shameful messages about sex and bodies often stem from small things like this. So including genitals in dolls, gives the message that they are just another part of the body.

Research also tells us that kids who know the correct names of their private body parts are less likely to be sexually abused, and if they are abused then they are more likely to report it.  Plus kids are more likely to have a more positive body image and higher self-esteem.

coloured in anatomically correct paperdolls
These paperdolls create a perfect opportunity to talk about bodies

Anatomically correct dolls allow you to teach your child:

  • the proper name of their genitals
  • the difference between boys and girls or males and females
  • about intersex ie that some children don’t have a penis or a vulva
  • gender roles and diversity (including discussion about transgenderism)
  • your family rules for nudity
  • differences and similarities between our bodies
  • private and public
  • body safety

As you can see, there are many benefits to having anatomically correct dolls. They open the doors to many important conversations that will keep your child safe!

How to use these paper dolls

Here are a few different ideas on how to use these paper dolls with your child.

They create a great opportunity for a craft activity. Sit down with your child at your kitchen table and tell them that you have some paper dolls for them to make.  Together you can colour them in, cut them out and dress them.

You can sit back and see if your child notices the genitals and then talk about it. Feedback from some of the parents who have already used these paper dolls with their children is that their kids didn’t make any comments about the genitals until prompted. And when they were prompted, the kids were unperturbed and didn’t see it as a big deal at all.

You could try asking your child some questions about the dolls:

  • What’s your dolls name? Are they a boy or a girl? How can you tell?
  • What’s the name of that body part?
  • Can boys wear dresses? Why? Why not?
  • Which parts of the body are private?
  • When is it okay for these dolls to wear no clothes?

If your child doesn’t have the best ‘fine motor skills’, you could cut the doll and clothes out yourself. Or ask an older child to help you.  And whilst you are making them up, you can chat about bodies.

Make sure you keep the paper dolls afterwards so that your child can come back and play with them again. Which then provides you with another opportunity to talk about bodies.

You can also use the paper dolls in role play. For example, maybe you want to have a discussion about nudity as your child still doesn’t understand your family rules about nudity.

So maybe the dolls are playing in the garden. It’s a hot day and they decide to play with the garden hose. Is it okay for them to take their clothes off to play? What if the garden is facing the street and people walking past can see them? What if it is in your backyard and no one can see them? What about if you have a visitor, like a family friend, a grandfather, a plumber? Is it then okay? What could they do instead? And so on…

anatomically paperdolls in use
All you need is scissors, pencils and the willingness to start a conversation!

Paper doll instructions

These paper dolls are pretty easy to use and I have tested them extensively to make sure that the clothes fit both dolls and stay on.

Well, my kids have been testing them actually! And when they finally refused to test more of them, I turned to my friends for help!

So they have been busy using them with their own kids, and feedback has been very positive! Their kids were amused for a whole afternoon while they coloured them in, then cut them out and dressed them. The paper dolls have also started some great conversations about the different body parts, nudity and body safety.

Printing

The file is A4 sized which means you can print it at home or with any printing service. Just set the printer as ‘fit to page’ and start printing. You can print these on standard photocopy paper or thicker paper or card stock. You can even print them on magnetic paper (if you want to)!

Materials

Once printed, you’ll need some cardboard (a cereal or biscuit box will do), scissors and a glue stick.

Plus coloured pencils or felt pens for colouring in.

Instructions

You’ll need to colour in the dolls before cutting them out. They have been left as black and white so that they can be coloured to reflect any cultural differences.

If you have printed the dolls on photocopy paper, glue them to some cardboard first. This way they will easier to dress, will be able to stand up, and are much more robust. Then cut them out once the glue has dried.

Carefully cut out the dolls and their clothes. If using clothes with tabs, cut between hair and shoulder so that tab for clothes will fit over the shoulder. If you have used magnetic paper, just cut the tabs off as you won’t need them. Some parents have even used velcro dots to hold the clothes on, instead of the tabs.

Cut along the dotted line on both the stand and the doll base, and insert the stand onto the base.

Fold tabs over on the clothes, and slip the tabs behind the doll to fit. The clothes will fit both dolls.

And now it’s time to sit down with your child and to play with them!

Download your own free paperdolls NOW!

Resources to help with talking about bodies

My mission is to create resources that will help you to naturally talk to your kids about sex, all while respecting your personal values.

Which means that inside this website, you’ll find lots of resources to help you with talking to your child about bodies.

My Sex Education 101 page includes all of the information on sex education. You’ll find lots of different blog posts to help with getting started, on a wide range of different topics – bodies, consent, diversity, porn, sexual intercourse and more.

You’ll find videos about sex education (and bodies) in my Sex Education Videos resource page that you can watch with your child or to learn more about sex education yourself.

You’ll also find an extensive range of sex education books for children, for kids of all ages. There are even some books in there for parents! And a list of children’s books about bodies and children’s books about private parts.

If you’re looking for some ideas on how to talk to your child about bodies, How to Talk to Kids About Bodies, will help you to start naming the private body parts and to have shame-free conversations with them about bodies. It is filled with lots of different ideas on how to have natural conversations with your child about their body. 

You’ll also find some child-friendly anatomically-correct cartoon illustrations of the genitals and internal reproductive organs that are appropriate for children from the age of 3 and up. Let’s Look at Different Body Parts is a printable that will help take the awkward out of talking to your child about their body, so they grow up feeling educated, confident, and comfortable in their own skin.

Or if you’re looking for an activity that you can sit down and complete with your child, then you may want to look at my anatomically-correct Paperdolls. They are perfect for starting natural conversations whilst your hands are busy.

If you’re worried that talking to your child about bodies might lead to questions about sex, then you can relax. How to Talk to Kids About Sex, will help you to explain sexual intercourse to your child in a way they will understand. It breaks sex down into simple steps that  take the stress out of explaining!

If you’re unsure about how to answer your child’s questions about sex, then I have the perfect book for you! The Sex Education Answer Book will give you age-specific answers to the most common questions kid’s ask parents about sex. Which means you don’t need to worry about finding a child-friendly explanation that your child understands. 

And if you get stuck, feel free to get in touch! You can contact me here.

6 thoughts on “Anatomically correct printable paper dolls”

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    Michelle Avichzer

    I think they would be brilliant for schools when they do protective behaviour. Well done fantastic !!

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    Do you have any suggestions about crafts that you can do with kids to help increase their understanding of their body parts? Specifically reproductive body parts in young adolescents?

    1. blank

      Hi Sara, a great question! There are some activities that sex educators use in schools, that would work well in the home. You can get a diagram of the reproductive organs (inside and outside) and get them to make them out of different craft supplies eg wool for the fallopian tubes, a ping pon ball for the ovaries – and they lay them all out, and as you do it, you can then chat about what the different parts do, are called etc.

      Have a hunt on pinterest, as you can find good ideas there too. There’s also a fantastic 3d puzzle that i really do want to buy, but have yet to – these would be great for teaching – https://sexedrescue.com/sex-education-teaching-resources/#tab-con-3

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    Hi Cath,
    Your paper dolls are a lovely resource to start conversations with pre-school & primary age children. Why have you presented the male child coloured in blue and the female child coloured in pink? This buys into the division of the sexes through manufacturing / commerce – for profit. It sends a message, already causing deep harm to sex expectations, that children only have acceptable access to certain colours – and by extension – interests. The campaigns Let Toys Be Toys, Let Clothes Be Clothes and Pink Stinks show how far reaching the pink v blue divide is. Why not colour the boy in pink? Why not give the boy colourful clothes?

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      Thanks for spotting that! I don’t usually genderise stuff (and there is no pink at all in my other paperdoll sets and the dolls in that set are also gender neutral) so I will get the artist to change the colours.

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