When do kids start play-pretending? When does imagination develop?

United States
September 5, 2007 3:02am CST
Just recently, I noticed that my 3 1/2 year old daughter was play pretending with her doll. She was acting like her mommy and saying some of the same things to the doll that I've said before. She was saying things like, "Do you feel OK?" "Do you need a hug?" It was too cute. And, I was wondering why I had never noticed her play-pretending before. Perhaps this is something she has been doing for awhile, but I just haven't noticed. She is a very private person and likes to play by herself with dolls in her room. Of course Mommy is never too far away, but it's just something she likes to do. She keeps a lot of her play to herself. Of course, she's been doing the regular type of play all along, but I just never noticed her pretending to be mommy. Do most kids start trying to develop their imagination around this age? Does it vary for each child? Is pretend play part of the process of growing up?