Updated on October 14, 2020 by Lyric Fergusson
Taking care of baby dolls is such a timeless way for our children to play. Watching your toddler feed, rock, and carry around another baby is the cutest thing. Every kid needs a baby doll, but they are especially helpful when your toddler is going to become a big brother or big sister. Another great reason for any child to have a baby doll is that nurturing play encourages life skills, like taking care of others; and we can model what that should look like with baby dolls. When you’re ready to move on to a baby doll that looks real for your little one there are lots of choices.
From baby dolls with such realistic features they are confused for actual babies to baby dolls that are small enough for little hands to tote around, here are my 7 favorite toddler baby dolls that look real:
The Best Toddler Baby Dolls That Look Real for All Ages
(Most affordable — $)
Why it’s great: You can’t beat the quality you receive at this price point. This baby doll is sure to delight your child, no matter their age. The small size and weight of this baby doll make it a great choice for younger toddlers. It can easily be carried by toddlers who are just starting to walk. This baby doll has the cutest facial expression, with a slightly open mouth that holds the included pacifier. She comes with a removable outfit that is machine washable, which makes cleaning her a breeze. This baby doll also comes in multiple ethnicities.
Durability factors in when you’re buying a baby doll for younger toddlers, and this baby doll delivers. Sculpted hair and fixed open eyes (ie less moving parts) make this one tough toy.
Keep in mind: You aren’t going to get a lot of extras with this baby doll. Also, this doll isn’t weighted, which can make it feel less realistic, but is also good for little ones who want their own baby doll.
Good for: Younger toddlers getting their first baby doll.
(Best first baby doll — $$)
Why it’s great: At just over 15” long, this baby is the perfect size for small hands. Although the company recommends this baby doll for children 2 and up, much younger toddlers can easily carry this baby everywhere they go. This adorable baby boy is stacked with features. His soft cotton body makes him super cuddly and cute. When nap time comes and he’s laid down his eyes close, which is a feature toddlers seem to love. He comes with tons of baby doll gear including an extra outfit, a pair of shoes, a bottle, a pacifier, a rattle, and his very own baby size dishes.
Keep in mind: This baby doll is too small for real baby clothes, so if you are wanting extra outfits you’ll have to get ones made for 15” dolls. It’s also worth mentioning, that although he is the perfect size for small toddlers, his tiny shoes can be tricky to get on and off.
Good for: Younger toddlers who want a realistic baby.
(Most educational — $$$)
Why it’s great: For those who find the classic American Girl dolls a bit too cumbersome for toddler hands, meet Ashlyn. She’s smaller than the original American Girl dolls but has the quality we’ve grown to expect from the brand. Her hard body makes it easy to dress and clean. She can also join in bathtime fun with your toddler.
Keep in mind: Because she is smaller than the original American Girl dolls, many of their accessories won’t fit her. Her long hair can also be a bit of a hassle for small toddlers.
Good for: Little ones who enjoy dolls that are also characters in books or shows.
(Most realistic — $$$)
Why it’s great: His soft baby skin and realistic hair will make people do a double-take when they see this adorable baby doll. He looks incredibly real. His weighted body adds to his lifelike characteristics. He comes with a super cute ducky outfit, but he also fits real preemie diapers and real size newborn baby clothes. One of his coolest features is his magnetic pacifier, yet another thing that makes him seem almost real. He also comes with his own blanket and plush ducky, as well as a bottle. Any baby that looks this real also needs their own birth certificate, so of course, he has one of those too.
He weighs nearly 4 pounds, so he is better suited for older toddlers. He is a doll your child will play with for years to come.
Keep in mind: Like many of the super-realistic baby dolls, his cotton body makes him a bit more sensitive to water. He can’t be submerged, instead, spot cleaning with a damp cloth is recommended. He can also be a bit hard to pose.
Good for: Older toddlers who want a baby doll that looks like a real baby.
(Most detailed — $$$)
Why it’s great: Bringing this baby doll home feels like bringing home a real baby, just without all the sleepless nights and dirty diapers. She smells amazing, she has a light, fresh baby powder scent. Hyper-realistic, hand-painted facial features, a weighted body, and moveable arms and legs make this baby doll feel real. Your little one will love dressing her in the adorable pink outfit she comes with, or she can wear real size 0-3 month baby clothes. A bonus is she comes with her own diaper. Her collector’s gift box makes her the perfect gift for a hard to buy for toddler.
Compared to other realistic baby dolls in her price range, perhaps her best feature is that she is poseable. She also has a magnetic pacifier that your little one will love playing with. This baby doll was designed to look and feel just like a real baby, and she doesn’t disappoint.
Keep in mind: This baby doll’s hair isn’t quite as realistic as some of the others on the list. Luckily she still looks great in hats.
Good for: Toddlers who like to pose their baby dolls in different positions.
(Most giftable — $$$)
Why it’s great: Designed by a New York artist, baby Nana looks so cute you will just want to squeeze her. Her realistic facial features and life-like hair make her an obvious choice for hours of playtime fun. She makes a great gift because she comes in a nice gift box, and she has her own bottle, pacifier, plush giraffe, and even a birth certificate.
She is weighted to feel real, making her a better fit for toddlers 3 and up. Baby Nana can wear real newborn diapers and size 0-3 baby clothes, so her wardrobe possibilities are endless.
Keep in mind: Baby Nana has a soft cotton body, so she can’t go in the bathtub or washing machine. However, she’s easily spot cleaned with a damp rag. Another bummer is her pacifier doesn’t fit in her mouth, so this hurdle requires a bit of imaginative play.
Good for: Older toddlers that want a baby doll that can wear real diapers and real baby clothes.
(Best for bathtime — $$)
Why it’s great: Most baby dolls that look real include a soft cotton body, but this baby doll is 100% vinyl, making it ideal for bathtime fun. The soft yet durable vinyl is also easy to clean. This dolly comes with a 10 piece gift set that includes a diaper bag (that plays double duty and also folds into a changing mat), 2 diapers, a hat, sippy cup, baby plate, spoon/fork, a rattle, and pretend wipes. The included hospital bracelet and birth certificate make it so much fun for your little one to pretend they are bringing their new baby home from the hospital.
Keep in mind: This baby doll includes lots of accessories, but she does not come with an outfit or a pacifier.
Good for: Toddlers who like to get their baby dolls wet.
FAQs about baby dolls for toddlers
1. What makes a baby doll a good toy for toddlers?
Many children innately want to care for something, the same way they have been cared for as babies. Toddlers will often even treat various plush animals like they are baby dolls. So why not get them a baby doll that looks real?
2. At what age are children interested in baby dolls?
Kids are all different and show interest in things at different times, but most toddlers start to enjoy playing with dolls around 18 months. The great thing about investing in dolls is that they are toys your child will still find relevant as they get older.
3. Do baby dolls promote learning?
Baby dolls help promote life skills for toddlers. They are also great to use when teaching toddlers what their body parts are called (like nose, mouth, eyes, etc).
4. Are baby dolls a gender neutral toy?
It’s archaic to think that baby dolls are only meant for girls. In the same way that young girls grow up to be mothers, young boys grow up to be fathers. Having a baby doll establishes that caretaker role very early in life. Empathy and awareness are ideas we hope to foster in all of our children, regardless of gender.
5. Can baby dolls help toddlers prepare for a sibling?
A baby doll can be an excellent way to prepare your toddler to welcome a new sibling. You can use the baby doll to show your toddler how you have to be gentle with the new baby that is coming. If you get a doll with lots of accessories for diaper changes and feeding, you will find your toddler mimicking what they see you doing with their new baby brother or sister, which is a wonderful way to forge a connection with the toddler.
There are a multitude of reasons that baby dolls have been around since ancient civilization. This timeless toy teaches children compassion and establishes the idea that we are all a part of something bigger than ourselves. Watching your toddler cuddle, feed, and clothe a baby doll gives you a warm fuzzy feeling for a reason. Our babies won’t be babies forever, and taking care of a baby doll is a part of childhood every kid should get to experience.
When choosing which doll works best for your kiddo there are several things you should ask yourself. How old is your child? Are they hard on their other toys (throwing them, getting them dirty, etc)? Do they want a doll that looks like a real baby? Do they want a doll that can take baths with them? There are lots of things to consider. Some of the hyper-realistic baby dolls are weighted to feel like real babies, so your toddler must be strong enough to carry the weight of the doll you choose.
Baby dolls make excellent birthday and Christmas gifts, but don’t forget how helpful they can be when you are 0welcoming a new sibling to the family. No matter what doll you choose, your toddler will spend hours playing house with it. You can’t go wrong with a baby doll that looks real for your toddler.
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