Best Dolls for Babies

Best Dolls for Babies

Baby dolls are a truly classical gift, suitable for both boys and girls. Dolls are a popular plaything for all ages from tiny tots right up to tweens. But looking for the best doll for a baby is different from looking for a baby doll for a preschooler, and there are so many toys out there to choose from! Parents often stress about this- but never fear! Read on for our advice on how to pick the right baby doll for your child- we have dolls to meet the needs of kids of all ages.

A baby’s first doll should be soft and cuddly and designed with tiny hands and mouths in mind without any loose parts. Ideally it will be machine washable. A baby won't play with a doll in the same way as a toddler would. After all they are too little to carry them around or push them in a pram. But get the right doll and they can offer comfort and fun from a young age and stay with them as they grow- the best baby dolls will offer a lot more comfort to a child than the standard stuffed animal.

A lot of the popular baby dolls out there- cabbage patch kids, baby alive dolls, baby stella- are hard plastic dolls. Lots of children just love these baby dolls, but the major downside is that they don't give the same cuddles as our cute soft dolls can! A soft body is top of our list, especially if the baby doll is for a baby or toddlers.

When should I introduce dolls to my baby?

This one is really a matter of personal choice!

Developmentally, the best time is 18-24 months, at this time their language is exploding and they are beginning to embrace imaginative play- role playing will be a firm feature of their play for the next few years. Some parents feel that introducing toys earlier than a child is "developmentally ready" to play with them as intended means that the child won't bother to engage with the toy by the time they are ready.

Other parents give a doll more or less from birth, using the doll similarly to the comforter. The same doll may join baby in the cot, pram and car seat, and become a friend for life and a cherished toy. Many of our customers have done this with Ruben's Barn dolls, in fact, my own son has had his Ruben's cutie since his first birthday, five years ago- he is keenly loved to this day! In reality, even if a younger baby won't play imaginatively with a doll, they will often enjoy cuddling and chewing the doll, developing a sense of love and security which might even prove helpful when you are transitioning your child to nursery or daycare.

Will a doll help my baby sleep through the night?

Again, this is one with no definitive answers. It will really depend on your baby and why they are waking!

Some parents find that their scent helps their baby to sleep, so, for example, will hold their little one's soft doll near at nursing time. The idea is that the doll that smells like mum and evokes a sense of security associated with nursing, will help soothe your baby and keep them sleeping.

Soft dolls can help a lot more with toddlers and young children, though. The darkness and quiet of night time can be scary for children, but sleeping with their best friend beside them can help! Our Rubens Barn Baby Dolls have received amazing feedback, with parents telling us that their doll must have come with sleepy dust! We aren't sure about sleepy dust, but since the dolls are made with soft fleece and gently weighted, we can imagine that they make children feel more secure- as though they are sleeping next to mum or dad.

What are the benefits of playing with dolls?

Kids love play pretend and act just like their parents, often this involves mimicking the nurturing love that they receive from you! This is especially true if they have a baby or toddler sibling, in this case, a doll is really the perfect toy.

A baby doll will promote empathy and understanding- playing with a baby doll will encourage your child to show loving behaviour, whether that's a cuddle for their doll, brushing their dolls hair, changing a nappy or something else. Additionally, a baby doll can be a great best friend- and kids often need a little extra comfort as they navigate changes and challenges in life.

A baby doll can really offer lots of inspiration for play, from toddler to older child of nine or ten years old. From a young age, kids look to their parents and emulate their behaviour. You'll find that from toddler hood, the way that kids play changes all the time, they will find new and exciting ways to have fun with their baby doll- which also offers future gift inspiration. Over the years, you can add doll prams, cots, outfits etc to keep your child busy for hours on end.

Dolls are also great for communication and social skills in toddlers especially, as well as the fine motor skills required in changing outfits etc. Pair with a pram to encourage your toddler to walk, or pop the baby doll on the potty to show your child how to ditch the nappies!

How do I pick the best doll for a baby or young child?

There are a few things to consider when picking the best baby dolls, safety being top priority. For a baby, toddler or very young child, you will want something suitable from birth or as appropriate- these baby dolls will have been stringently safety tested so parents can buy with confidence.

Be aware of the materials and any dyes that have been potentially used- as small children will inevitably bring toys, including their new doll, to their mouths! Where the doll is made can be an important indicator of the level of testing and ethical production. Ensure to buy the baby doll from a reputable retailer- such as ourselves!

Other handy features- for babies and toddlers, a cute soft doll is best for all those cuddly snuggles, and you will want the doll to be machine washable. Check out that the doll comes with an outfit or other accessories, or if other accessories can be bought separately-for example, we stock a high chair and cot, along with extra clothes, that can be used with our range of soft dolls. These extra accessories add a lot of extra fun and play value as children love to engage in nurturing play, acting just like mum or dad!

Consider the age of the child the baby doll is for- for babies , the best baby dolls would be soft and ideally made from organic cotton, they will need to be safe for chewing and lightweight too, to go in car seats and prams. Baby dolls for older kids will ideally come with a few accessories to facilitate imaginative play, and you don't have to worry so much about age recommendations.

Another option for older children would be American Girl dolls, which are a plastic doll toy, so not quite as cuddly or cute! However, there's a never ending choice or accessories to go with an American Girl doll. You'll find that American Girl dolls are a child's doll toy more for the 6+ age range, as babies and toddlers tend not to show much interest!

If you do prefer this style of doll, you could try the American Girl Bitty baby doll- these have an age range of 18 months and are designed to look like baby dolls rather than the classic older girls.

Rubens Barn Dolls

Rubens Barn has created a gorgeous range of handmade dolls many of which are suitable from birth. They come in a mixture of skin tones and hair colour, so your child can pick the doll that looks like them or just whichever baby doll your child likes. Each doll comes with a basic outfit and extra great accessories can be bought separately too. These will promote empathy and social skills while being great fun!

The most popular Rubens doll is the Rubens Baby- these are a big hit and have been since they landed with Baba Me! Each empathy doll is made by hand in over 100 steps, making each one unique. Each one is an anatomically correct handmade doll that is designed to encourage empathy, patience and love. The cute baby doll can suck it's thumb and take a dummy too, and include a removable outfit for added play value. It's perfect for toddlers and older girls and boys, especially those that have a new baby brother or sister on the way but is probably a bit big and heavy for a baby.

The Rubens baby dolls are anatomically correct, so you can pick a girl or boy doll, along with the usual choice of hair colour and skin tone. They have soft hair that can be gently brushed and come with a cloth nappy for changing. Most boys seem to prefer boy dolls! These are a great baby doll and one of our top selling toys, ideal for any baby doll lover. Older children love that these are a larger doll, so can wear baby clothes, and be used with lots of other toys and accessories, such as feeding sets and high chair- perfect for kids who love to play pretend. Each doll comes with an outfit, cloth nappy and dummy so is sure to be a huge hit and perfect gift for the baby doll lover in your life. Children tend to just fall in love with the Rubens Barn Baby dolls!

The Cuties, however, are much smaller and lighter. Perfect for any age and destined to become a friend for life, or childhood at least. These also have a soft body, a sweet smile and other accessories that will invite imaginative play. Younger kids love dressing these up, which is great for those fine motor skills, so they make a great gift for toddlers and preschoolers. Our bigbigs size medium doll clothes can be used as extra clothes for the cuties.

Alternatively we absolutely love the organic, handmade eco-buds and the NEW mini eco-buds. These gorgeous dolls are a wonderful take on a traditional rag doll. The soft organic fabric is perfect for babies to cuddle up to, and their friendly faces are full of character.

Available in both boy and girl dolls a Rubens Eco-bud would make the perfect doll gift for a new-born. Plus they are loved by older kids as well so you know they'll have plenty of fun and adventure ahead of them. These are approximately ten inches tall and, like the other Rubens dolls, this soft bodied doll is machine washable, so you can throw them in to the washing machine in case of any spills. They are 100% organic cotton, which many of our customers feel make them the best baby dolls to gift to newborns.

The mini eco buds are small enough for even the tiniest tots to hold on to. And as they are designed with little ones in mind they even come with a little cotton tie, perfect for chewing or attaching the doll to a pram, baby carrier or cot. Plus Rubens Barn plant a tree for every eco-bud doll they sell so you're little one can be off to a good start environmentally as well.

Other great dolls for babies

It's not just Rubens barn that makes great dolls for babies. Nanchen dolls are perfect for little ones. Super soft and cuddly with adorable faces they are halfway between a doll and a comforter and make a lovely gift for a newborn.

The Big Jigs ragdolls are also suitable from birth and would make a lovely companion for any little one. The traditional design features bright clothes and wool hair. And you can buy additional outfits making them great dress-up dolls for older children. You can buy a girl or boy doll and they all look very different, with different hair colours etc.

Threadbear design have also introduced a gorgeous range of completely plush soft dolls and animals, these come in a handy gift box so really do make a great gift for a new baby, and indeed kids of all ages! Check out our full range of soft dolls and find the perfect toy for your little one today. 


And if you are looking for a doll for an older child and want more advice, here are our best dolls for toddlers.


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