Best doll for a toddler?
November 19, 2013 1:31 PM   Subscribe

I went shopping for a baby doll for an 18-month-old relative, thinking it would be an easy purchase, and now I'm so confused...

I want to get a soft, lifelike baby whose eyes close when you lie her down, and who is anatomically correct. Preferably a vinyl doll who, when naked, would look pretty realistic.

I can't seem to find the right doll. I looked at fancy French dolls (Mon Premier Corolle , from the Corolle company) whose eyes close, but the bodies seem to be stuffed squooshiness rather than likelike vinyl "skin" (in other words, you don't want to undress them, because there are no humanoid features in there). Then there are the Madame Alexander baby dolls, but they have the same issue.

I'd like a doll that looks like a real baby, face and body, with some sort of suggestion of female genitalia, that's appropriate for a toddler, that's soft and vinyl-ish, and who you can dress and undress (take off her onesie or whatever she's clothed in).

There were some other dolls like this Berenguer but I find her face too spooky.

Also my god these girl dolls are so PINK in their attire!

Any recommendations?
posted by DMelanogaster to Shopping (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You might be looking for an American Girl Bitty Baby.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 1:34 PM on November 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

Ashton-Drake has some.
posted by Sassyfras at 1:36 PM on November 19, 2013

I looked around pretty thoroughly for decent anatomically correct dolls with similar criteria for my son and ended up going with the Corolle Emma doll (and the boy doll, Paul, as well).
posted by rabbitrabbit at 1:38 PM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I found these Ashton Drake 'So Truly Real' dolls, which look enough like real babies to fool a person at first glance...
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:39 PM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't know what the Bitty Babies look like under the hood (so to speak), but I can vouch for them (at least, the ones they were making ca. the late 1990s) being really great dolls and age appropriate in terms of durability. Bonus: they have a variety of hair, eye, and skin colors so you aren't stuck with some garish blonde-haired-blue-eyed thing that plagues a lot of toys for small children.
posted by phunniemee at 1:58 PM on November 19, 2013

Bitty Babies have cloth bodies under their clothes, not vinyl (or other "skinlike" material).
posted by ocherdraco at 2:17 PM on November 19, 2013

Cloth bodies are easier to dress/undress, though. (Think how bothersome Barbie is.) They are also easier to manipulate into position, in a dolly chair or dolly stroller and certainly in dolly slings, and they look more comfortable in dolly beds...

We have a Gotz Muffin baby doll and it was a Best Toy Ever sort of purchase; she is in good condition after five years of regular attention, and she is so nice that I skipped past every other brand and happily blew US$90 on an 18" Gotz doll for Xmas this year. Anyway. The bum of the Gotz Muffin is perfectly weighted and she is perfect for playing and cuddling, and dresses/undresses happily. The cloth body is a pretend onesie, not a WTF, I promise. I think you are not finding a lot of nice all-plastic baby dolls because they aren't cuddly, and aren't easy to dress -- and lacking weight they fall out of stuff instead of staying put. There aren't "soft" all-plastic dolls. The ones out there are mostly sold with potties and used as toileting inspiration rather than BFFs.

Anyway, I enthusiastically recommend Etsy as a source for accessories -- there are a lot of first-rate cloth diapers and so on. Searching by doll height will work for sizing. A young toddler will not be able to do much dressing/undressing; a Velcro diaper is an easy thing to start with though, and a little blanket and pillow set will get a lot of use, and it is an economical way to de-pink a doll wardrobe.
posted by kmennie at 2:27 PM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

As the parent of a used-to-be-18-month-old, I would suggest looking for a baby doll that is squishier and less lifelike. And washable, maybe. I'm not sure the eyes that close are a good idea---they often end up making the eyes look chintzy.

It;s too bad the Corelle dolls don't have a picture with no clothes on so you can see if they're those dolls with plastic arms and legs and cloth/beanbag torsos, which are maybe not what you want.

Yeah, I found these Ashton Drake 'So Truly Real' dolls, which look enough like real babies to fool a person at first glance..

Those are horrifying. I can't imagine giving them to a toddler. I may never sleep. Also I can't imagine thinking it was a good idea to spend $150 on a baby doll that's probably going to end up with lotion on it (or, on one memorable occasion, covered with Vicks Baby Rub---after all, if we put it on the daughter, it's a good idea for the daughter to put all over the doll, right?)
posted by leahwrenn at 2:48 PM on November 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Those are horrifying. I can't imagine giving them to a toddler. I may never sleep.

I actually agree, but hey, she DID say she wanted 'lifelike'...
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:09 PM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

If there's a local kindy or daycare, talk to them - the dolls at my daughter's daycare are all what you're looking for, and same with the playgroups. A lot of educational toy providers do a catalogue with retail options. They're all hard plastic though, not soft at all (it'd take embroidery to make genitalia on a cloth doll I think).

My daughter dresses and undresses any doll, regardless of what they've got underneath (the Baby Bjorn eating/pooping ones just have a hole which is...disconcerting to say the least).
posted by geek anachronism at 3:27 PM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Most of my toddler son's doll owning friends have the Corolle baby doll with plastic limbs/head and a cloth body. We're I buying a doll for him, or any other kiddo his age (2yrs), it's what I would buy. Kids this age like to snuggle their dolls and the soft body is much more conducive to this than the plastic body.
posted by sonika at 3:29 PM on November 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

All the 18 month olds I know adore their IKEA baby dolls. They are super soft, absolutely not creepy at all, and come in 3 colors. Not super realistic (ie, bellybutton but no genitalia), but also not the weird kind of 'clothbag with plastic appendages' kind of look. A huge plus is that they're easy to carry even with just one hand, that makes schlepping them around so much easier for a busy toddler.
posted by The Toad at 5:34 PM on November 19, 2013

The Corelle cloth bodies are absolutely fine for toddlers and much nicer than harder vinyl for cuddling. A washable doll is a BIG plus. My kid's favourite is a now out of stock Beanie Baby little boy, and when I was little, it was a cheapo plastic limbed/cloth body baby - I didn't care that her body was a featureless sack of mattress stuffing, or that her eyes were cross-eyed, she was my BABY.

My best advice is to get two identical dolls, give her one and put the other one away for when the dolly hospital can do no more, and have her return from the hospital 'rejuvenated' to brand new.
posted by viggorlijah at 11:33 PM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I know you mentioned them but Berenguer Dolls pretty much exactly fit your description and you might be able to find one that isn't so ugly on the site. My brother had one; he loved it to death.
posted by Polychrome at 4:03 AM on November 20, 2013

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