Inside: Unsure about how to start talking to your child about the different body parts? These super-sweet 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!
You’ll find more information about sex education in my Sex Education 101 page.
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! As you can see from the photo below!
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. 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.
Anatomically correct dolls allow you to teach your child:
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!
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:
If your child doesn’t have the best ‘fine motor skills’, you could also make up the paper dolls yourself. Or ask an older brother or sister 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 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.
This free set includes the dolls and underwear. An expanded gender-diverse set with different ethnic backgrounds and more clothes are on their way.
These paper dolls are pretty easy to use and I have tested them 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.
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!
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!
Please contact me if you would like an intersex set of these dolls. The intersex paperdolls have no genitals, which means your child can draw their own genitals onto them.
My mission is to create resources that will help parents to naturally talk to their child about sex, all while respecting your family values.
If you need some ideas on how to start talking to your child about body parts, my parent guide Let’s Talk About Bodies, will help you to start naming the private parts (or genitals) and to have shame-free conversations about bodies.
If you’re unsure about how to start explaining sex to your child, then Let’s Talk About Sex, will help you to explain sexual intercourse to your child in a way they will understand.
If you’re worried about how to answer their questions about sex, then The Sex Education Answer Book will give you age-specific answers to tough questions kid’s like to ask about sex.
I'm Cath, a sex educator living in Australia with my husband and 2 kids. I help parents to talk about sex (with less cringe and more confidence) and empower their child to make smart sexual decisions. To find a better way to talk about sex, you can join my community of parents and visit my shop for helpful resources.