The 10 Best Reborn Dolls

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This wiki has been updated 34 times since it was first published in January of 2016. Little ones who want a lifelike parenting experience might enjoy one of these reborn dolls. They've been designed to resemble babies closely, which also makes them useful as theater props when a real child is unavailable. While they may possess some handmade components, note that these factory-made versions often don't feature the meticulous attention to detail preferred by many collectors. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. The Ashton-Drake Galleries Megan Rose

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2. Paradise Galleries Chantilly

3. Paradise Galleries Bamboo

Editor's Notes

September 16, 2020:

The process of "reborning" consists of a number of time-consuming steps that typically include hand-painting a vinyl doll, applying the strands of hair, and adding filler to the body and head to provide a realistic, lifelike weight. This meticulous process is often carried out by artists who sell their wares in person at fairs or through online stores. No two of these handmade collectibles are exactly alike, and each is priced commensurate with its craftsmanship. Factory-produced dolls made to resemble real babies are commonly sold by large online retailers, often at lower prices and with a quality and attention to detail that match.

August 04, 2020:

These reborn dolls are great for any little one who wants to be just like a mom or dad who cares for a baby, and their hand-painted features and sewn-in hair are enough to make anyone look twice to determine whether they’re a child or a doll. Many are able to fit into newborn-sized clothing and come with fun accessories like baby bottles and receiving blankets. Today, we added the The Ashton-Drake Galleries Megan Rose to the list, which is a true collector’s item that features an amused expression, realistic baby hands with slender fingers, and soft, hand-rooted brown hair. True to its name, it’s dressed in a pink and white floral-patterned onesie with fancy ruffled sleeves, along with a matching pink satin headband. This selection replaces the Ashton-Drake Galleries Little Peanut, which is unavailable at this time.

The Paradise Galleries Bamboo also makes its way onto the list. It is designed by renowned artist Ping Lau and comes complete with a pink panda shirt, a black and white zip-up jacket, and striped pants, and you’ll also receive a plush panda stuffed animal. It makes for a great present and comes in an attractive gift box with a certificate of authenticity. We also added in the Adora Toddler Ice Cream Party, which is dressed in pink and has a thick head of blond ringlets. It’s a great choice for anyone who prefers a doll that’s made in the likeness of an older baby. As the name implies, it comes in a party-ready outfit, which consists of a multi-tiered dress, pom pom ponytail holders, and faux Mary Jane shoes with lace-edged fold-over socks. These two newly added selections serve to replace the Paradise Galleries Tall Dreams and the Adora Toddler Woof!, both of which contain small parts and are not intended for use by small children.

We also added a couple more infant dolls. The NPKDoll Baby Girl resembles a sleeping newborn, down to the eyes that stay tightly shut and a pink removable pacifier. It wears cute pajamas with a print featuring monkeys and hearts, and while it’s constructed from environmentally friendly materials, note that the hair tends to be a bit frizzy and might need some care. The Aori Lifelike comes in a fun multi-layered duck-themed outfit that’s complete with a cap and booties, and you’ll also get a matching friendly stuffed animal. And when you want a change from the duck clothing, it’s easy to swap out since the doll fits in most other newborn clothing.

April 25, 2019:

While the first thing you might look at when choosing a reborn doll is the details in the face, for many, it's the whole package that matters. With this in mind, we included choices with two body styles to satisfy the preferences of different collectors.

Many prefer a cloth body like the Ashton-Drake Galleries Little Peanut because it's weighted with soft fill so that the doll feels heavy and realistic in their arms. For buyers who want a more anatomically correct choice like the Berenguer Boutique La Newborn, while smaller than the typical newborn, the body is realistically proportioned, even when undressed and can even be bathed, making this style ideal for users who might let children play with it.

Special Honors

Paradise Galleries Fabulous Like Mommy This reborn doll is designed to look a lot like Mom, with a gray t-shirt that says as much, as well as a plush pink coffee cup, faux fur booties, and polka dot bloomers with a matching headband. It has soft light blond hair with side-swept bangs as well as cornflower blue eyes. It’s been sculpted by renowned artist Ping Lau and is crafted of soft vinyl that has a fresh baby powder scent. It’s made for collectors ages 14 and up.

Amethyst Vinyl Doll Kit This reborn doll is a realistic replica of a Sphinx cat that measures between 13 and 14 inches in length and includes a vinyl head, limbs, and tail, as well as a doe suede body. This limited-edition collector’s item comes with a certificate of authenticity. The parts of the kit come unpainted and ready for you to personalize.

4. Adora Toddler Ice Cream Party

5. Aori Lifelike

6. JC Toys Berenguer Boutique La Newborn

7. The Ashton-Drake Galleries Butterfly Kisses

This item has been flagged for editorial review and is not available.

8. Paradise Galleries Hoot! Hoot!

9. Joymor 22 Inch

10. NPKDoll Baby Girl

All About Reborn Dolls

They would take it apart to paint and reassemble it in the most lifelike fashion possible, oftentimes including real human hair and adjusting the facial features.

The art of crafting reborn dolls first emerged in the late 1930s, but up until recently the public demand for them was limited. This began to change in the early 2000s as people started selling them on eBay, bringing them to the attention of the general public.

Originally reborn dolls were termed as such, because the artists creating them would start with a previously manufactured doll. They would take it apart to paint and reassemble it in the most lifelike fashion possible, oftentimes including real human hair and adjusting the facial features. Vinyl dolls are most suitable for the reborning process as they take on the most realistic look once transformed.

Many of the mass market reborn dolls commonly found for sale are newborn, as opposed to reborn. This means the doll was created specifically to resemble a lifelike baby from the moment the manufacturing process was started. There are also reborn doll kits available which allow the consumer to piece together their own newborn doll by themselves. When assembling a kit newborn doll, the first few steps are completed by the doll manufacturer and a reborn doll artists, with the final stages left up to the purchaser.

Currently most reborn and newborn dolls are sold online, but they can also be found at certain types of fairs and doll shows, such as the Rose International Doll Expo. In 2005 the International Reborn Doll Artists Group (IRDA) was created to educate artists and the public on the art of reborning and newborning.

Emotional Response To Reborn Dolls

The newborn and reborn doll market is comprised of mainly two types of consumers: collectors and those looking to fill an emotional void. The lifelike nature of these types of dolls makes them ideally suited for the latter kind of consumer. Because they look so realistic, it becomes very easy to create a strong emotional bond, which can be utilized for a range therapeutic benefits.

Proponents of both sides agree that purchasing a reborn or newborn doll with a close resemblance to a deceased child is never a good idea.

Many newborn doll consumers have experienced some kind of emotional trauma that they are having trouble dealing with. This can include miscarriage, the loss of a child, stillbirth, of those suffering from empty nest syndrome. Those who cannot have children and are unable to adopt may use a reborn doll as substitute for having a child of their own. It allows them to experience feelings associated with motherhood that they may have never otherwise been able to.

There is much debate among medical professionals as to whether this is a healthy or unhealthy practice. Some feel that it is a good way for a person to work through their emotional issues, while others feel that substituting a reborn doll for a deceased child can cause further emotional issues and delay the grieving process. Proponents of both sides agree that purchasing a reborn or newborn doll with a close resemblance to a deceased child is never a good idea.

Sometimes the media depicts treating a reborn doll as a real living baby as creepy, which has led many in the general public to feel the same. This is most likely attributed to a theory known as the Uncanny Valley Hypothesis. It states that objects create an increasing empathetic response as they become more lifelike, until they reach a tipping point at which the emotional response turns into repulsion. As the object continues to become less distinguishable from a human, the emotional response flips and becomes positive again, even approaching human-to-human empathy levels.

The Process Of Reborning A Doll

Reborning a doll is a time consuming and laborious process involving a number of steps. First a doll is taken apart so the factory paint can be removed, giving the artist a blank base to work from. Next a blue wash is applied, which helps to enhance the appearance of realistic baby skin undertones, before adding multiple layers of flesh colored paint.

The combination of the blue undertone with multiple layers of paint creates an exceptionally lifelike look, including veins and the mottled look of newborn skin.

If the artist uses heat set paints, the parts of the doll are baked inside an oven to cure after each layer is applied. This process can also be completed with the use of a heat gun if preferred. Lighter skin tones can take anywhere from 15 to 30 layers, with darker flesh tones requiring a little bit less. The combination of the blue undertone with multiple layers of paint creates an exceptionally lifelike look, including veins and the mottled look of newborn skin.

If starting with a doll with an awake appearance, the eyes are usually replaced with ones resembling the droopier eyes of a newborn. Then the nose holes are opened and the nails are manicured. After the painting and stylizing of the facial features are finished, hair is applied in one of two ways; microrooting or wigging.

After all of this has been completed, the dolls body is weighted with soft pellets to correspond with the weight of an actual baby of the same age. The head is often weighted as well, requiring the owner to support it just like holding a live baby. Some may also have magnets included inside the mouth for attaching pacifiers, electronic devices inside the chest to simulate a heartbeat, or heat packs to make the doll warm to the touch.

Karen Bennett
Last updated by Karen Bennett

Karen Bennett lives in Chicago with her family, and when she’s not writing, she can usually be found practicing yoga or cheering on her kids at soccer games. She holds a master’s degree in journalism and a bachelor’s in English, and her writing has been published in various local newspapers, as well as “The Cheat Sheet,” “Illinois Legal Times,” and “USA Today.” She has also written search engine news page headlines and worked as a product manager for a digital marketing company. Her expertise is in literature, nonfiction, textbooks, home products, kids' games and toys, hardware, teaching accessories, and art materials.

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