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Choosing baby dolls
Giving a child a baby doll is such a sweet, fun experience. From the earliest age, babies and children focus their eyes on faces, so toys with faces typically get a response from even the youngest infants. Knowing what features to look for in a doll makes it easier to find the perfect one for the child on your shopping list.
Age-appropriate baby dolls
The child's age is the first thing to consider, because some doll baby features are ideal for infants while others are much better suited to older children, especially when it comes to safety. These dolls also come in different sizes, with smaller dolls being easier for younger children to hold and manage. Older children have more strength to play with larger dolls and enjoy dolls that come with more accessories.
- Birth through 12 months of age: Choose lightweight, plush baby dolls for the youngest infants. Look for styles with no small parts that could come off and pose choking hazards. Go for bright colors or delicate pastel shades that catch a baby's attention. For older infants, choose more realistic-looking baby dolls with soft bodies. Some of these infant toys make soft noises or come with an extra blanket for the baby to play with and explore.
- 12 to 24 months of age: For toddlers, you'll still want to make sure the baby doll doesn't have small parts. Some dolls designed for children in this age range come with accessories, like baby bottles or spare clothes. This lets your child gain experience with nurturing a baby and helps with simple tasks like learning how to put socks on or take them off. At this age, dolls are also handy for teaching children about body parts, by pointing at the doll's features and naming them.
- 2 through 4 years old: Choose dolls for preschool-age children according to both their preferences and the learning skills you want to reinforce. Dolls for children in this age group often come with accessories, such as hair brushes, spare clothing, diapers and pretend snacks. These extra items let your child play pretend and take on the role of the adult caretaker during playtime. This helps them learn about the world around them and teaches empathy and compassion.
- 5 years old and up: Dolls for children in this age group include some of the same baby dolls and accessories offered for younger children as well as baby dolls with smaller parts and accessories. Traditional baby dolls are ideal for children who are about to welcome a new sibling into the family. This is because you're able to use the doll in teaching your older child how to help care for the new baby. For this age group, you'll also find more posable dolls with articulated joints. The posable doll offerings include dolls with proportions that move away from the thick, round baby shape, creating the look of a taller child. This helps with role playing and is ideal for children who like to play dress up with their dolls.
Dolls come in a variety of sizes, and this makes it easy to find one that's just the right dimensions for your child's hands and the storage space you have available.
- Smaller, 14-inch dolls fit best in a younger child's hands. A small toy is also ideal for taking along when you're traveling or your child needs a companion in the car. Some dolls in this size even come with car seats so your child can relax knowing the doll baby is safely buckled in beside them.
- As your child starts to grow taller, a larger 16-inch or 18-inch doll fits nicely in his or her bigger hands. The larger doll also provides the illusion of growing along with your child. Dolls in this size range also have a lot more accessories available, such as fashions to match almost any style or outfit your child wears.
- The largest 20-inch baby dolls are ideal for older babies and for teaching older siblings about caring for a new baby. Baby dolls in this size deliver realism, and kids have fun changing their sleepers and feeding them just like a real baby. Pretending to feed these baby dolls helps support the development of fine motor skills. Dolls of this size also sometimes fit into garments your child outgrows, almost instantly creating a larger wardrobe for the doll.