While ToysRUs and Amazon.com sell dress-up toys, parents can also add to the toy box with items from around the home. Costume jewelry, hats, aprons and tutus add to the playroom. Providing dress-up items encourages healthy child development.
Providing dress-up items encourages imaginative play and role-playing. When a child takes part in role-playing with other children, the process teaches turn-taking, socialization and cooperation. Role-playing children develop into problem-solving adults.
Dress-up games teach preschoolers about buttoning buttons and zipping zippers, but they also teaches them empathy. The games help to improve their storytelling ability and their ability to think symbolically. A child who substitutes a wooden block for a cellphone is preparing for substituting letters for words as he develops.
For many children, shoes are the first dress-up toys of interest. Dressing up may begin with wearing shoes belonging to Mom or Dad. The child is sometimes fascinated with a simple pair of plastic heels from a play set. Shoes are often a symbol of the parent's role as the child plays.
Most children slowly lose interest in dress-up toys as they enter the first grade. They continue role-playing but find that action figures and dollhouses allow them to take part without actually dressing up for the role.