What are the Benefits of Dress Up Play for Toddlers?

Remember when you used to play at being a doctor? or a teacher? or how about an astronaut, discovering new galaxies in the universe. As a child, I used to play many games where my imagination would take me to new places. I would dress up in costumes and be whoever I wanted. But do you actually know the benefits of dress up play for toddlers?

There are many benefits of dress up play for children including building creativity and imagination, improving empathy skills, developing social skills, using teamwork and even improving fine motor skills. Dress up play is also a great way for children to remember and process past experiences and everyday situations to help understand them better.

For children, dressing up is a way of representing themselves as someone else in a reality they create and believe to be true. As parents, we need to encourage this type of game for our children and play with them when they allow us to do so.

It’s very important that we have everything ready that they would need. For example, a special place or box where they can find all those magical things that will help them transform into anything they want when playing dress up costumes. 

What is Dress Up Play?

Dressing up with costumes is an important type of play in the development of any toddler, it gives them numerous benefits. Children dress up as their favourite character or as someone they admire, allowing them to dream, hope and use their creativity reflecting their personality and current interests. 

Benefits of Dress Up Play for Toddlers

Playing dress up games with our children can be a very important and essential activity for their education, not only as a great tool in their development process. Our children are at an age where their minds are like sponges, their imagination has no limits, they’re starting to discover the world and to know themselves. Here are just a few examples of what play dress up can do for your kid. 


When transforming into a different person while they play dress up, our children are allowing themselves to be in someone else’s shoes, to feel what this character is feeling, this increases empathy. Whether pretending to be a policeman, or a firefighter putting out fires, or a prince helping a damsel in distress, dramatic play helps them to understand others and learn what it means to be a helper. 

Creativity & Imagination

Children learn to express themselves with freedom while playing dress up games, they show us their way of perceiving the world and how they develop ideas of the reality around them.

Dressing up with costumes allow our toddlers to explore, experiment and create different scenarios for their characters helping them strengthen their imagination and creativity. This is something I see on a daily basis with my child. Some days we are fighting dragons and the next one I might be discovering a new species of fish in the middle of the ocean. 

Check out our post on the benefits of painting for more activities to enhance creativity and imagination.

Social Skills

Creating stories and new adventures not only help our children with the development of the creative side of their brain, but it also encourages them to cooperate with others.

Most of the time my kid doesn’t want me interfering in his games, when he allows me to play, he learns how to cooperate and negotiate as we agree who will play the bad guy and the good guy.  He learns to share and to communicate, he develops an interest in what others have to say and he learns how to respect.

Motor Skills

Role playing will help our children develop better gross motor skills, by making them go into character they will be running like a superhero, jumping like kangaroos or leaping like dancers.

All these activities combined with having to put on their costumes before their big adventure will also allow them to practice coordination when buttoning a jacket or shirt, tying the laces on their shoes or the apron of the chef, bedazzling that cape will also require them to use this type of skills, helping them to improve each day a little more in the way they move and coordinate. 


Our child’s brain is in the process of developing at a very fast pace, and their way of learning new things is by connecting experiences they have seen before.

By playing dress up or any other kind of dramatic play our little one’s are recreating circumstances they have experienced before. If my kid saw me cooking dinner and then he reenacts the actions and what I was wearing during his playing time it means he is putting his memory to work.  

Check out our post on the benefits of puzzles for more activities to enhance their memory.

How to Get Toddlers Interested in Dress Up Play

Mummy’s let’s start by having all the supplies we need, we will also have to put our creative minds to work on this one either by buying some costumes or at least  having the necessary things to create one.

Once this is settled we begin by talking to them, asking them what is their favorite cartoon, or what they want to be when they grow up, encouraging them to act them out, to show us what they are thinking on and help them if necessary.  Most of our kids won’t need much help getting those creative minds to work, so just prepare yourself to enjoy the adventure.

Dress Up for Kids Inspiration

As parents most of the time we close ourselves at being rational, thinking what is best for our kids forgetting that most of the time they are the ones teaching us. During this game, we are going to transform our minds, we will think as them that way we will be able to see the impossible as possible. 

Princess Dress Up for Toddlers

Just to give you a few ideas on how to create a princess costume, you will need a kids party dress or a skirt, white cardboard and yellow markers or yellow cardboard, this is to make the crown. And party shoes, from your closet, a little makeup and that’s it, you are ready to play princess dress up with your toddler.

Doctor Dress Up for Toddlers

For this toddler dress-up play costume, you will need an old white shirt either yours or daddy’s, you will need to cut it to fit your child. Red marker to paint the red crosses on the coat and black cardboard to create the stethoscope.

Or you always have the option to buy it…..

Pirate Dress Up for Toddlers

This is one of the easiest to create, you will just need a pair of old black or red pants, a white t-shirt, cardboard to make the sword in case you don’t have one and the patch.

And in case you don’t have the materials, take a look at these options….

Fireman Dress Up for Toddlers

As for this dress-up option, I also have an easy and quick way to do it. You’ll need a black jacket and black pants, yellow cloth tape or duck tape and 10 minutes of your time.

Trust me your kid will love it, he not only will be playing with it but will love being part of the making of his costume. Take a look at this option….

Dress Up Play Essentials

My dear mum friends, thank you for taking the time to read this post. I really hope it will help you understand the importance of dress up play in our toddlers’ lives. It will not only help them in their development but also will strengthen our relationship with them. To finish off, I wanted to give you a shortlist of the essentials you might want to have in the house for your children to play and create. 

  • Scarves
  • Belts
  • Shoes
  • Sunglasses
  • Necklaces
  • Hats
  • Long Gloves and/or disposable gloves (for princesses and doctors)
  • Fairy skirts or long dresses
  • Old t-shirts 
  • Old bags/Briefcases 
  • Aprons
  • Purses
  • Ropes

For more toddler tips, check out our post on the benefits of reading to kids, read all about nature play and sensory play here or other benefits of play.

Sophie Marie

Sophie Marie is passionate about providing the very best for her kids and her family. She spends half of the year living in an isolated community in Far North Queensland so online research and finding the best products is a skill she's perfected over time.
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