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Representation in your child's toys matters!

Published Date: 20 Jun 2024
Photo: Zoe made hearing aids for Elina's toys, or bought toys which came with hearing technology.

I didn't realise how important it would be for my daughter to see hearing aids on her toys until I handed her that first doll wearing hearing aids. The look on her face as she hugged the doll so tightly told me everything about why she needed to see hearing devices like hers on dolls, toys, characters and cartoons.

Elina has bilateral sensorineural hearing loss and was given hearing aids when she was eight weeks old. We muddled through that first year trying to keep her aids in place. We struggled to feel confident that life with an aided child would ever get easier.

When she was around one year old though, we seemed to hit a turning point. She embraced and understood her hearing aids a lot better. In turn, I was able to think more about how we can help bring a sense of the importance of her deaf identity into our home.

Photo: Puff paint can be used to add hearing aids to baby dolls.

I'm in a Facebook group [not affiliated with NDCS] for parents of children with hearing aids, and someone had posted about puff paint and how you can use it on dolls to add aids. I'd seen it a while before and never tried it, but finally decided to order some and give it a go.

It was really simple to do, and after a day of leaving it to dry, Elina's favourite baby doll now has matching pink hearing aids to hers. They aren't perfect, but to a toddler's eye they're good enough!

Photo: Zoe explained to Elina that her doll needed hearing aids to hear too.

Since that doll, we've added puffy aids to half her 'babies' and now have a Miniland doll with cochlear implant, a hearing aid Barbie, and soft removable aids that can go on any of her bigger teddies (or on us if she decides we need them while she’s playing!). It's been amazing to see how she interacts with them and how they help her confidence grow.

We also have a range of books with aided characters, and we love when we see aids on children on the odd TV programme (for example, Yakka Dee on CBeebies). I'd love to see much more D/deaf representation in children's toys, books and mainstream TV.


Zoe and her husband are parents to Elina (2) and are expecting their second child this summer. Elina is moderately deaf and wears hearing aids.