The exciting and exhilarating feeling when we get our first doll often stays with us for the rest of our lives. There’s nothing quite like it when we get our baby and a chance to mimic our mothers.

According to Psychology Today, pretend play is a critical part of a child’s development. A study conducted by Frontiers in Human Neuroscience has backed up this claim and concluded that “doll play may provide a unique opportunity for children to practice social interactions important for developing social-emotional skills, such as empathy.”

When your child plays with a doll, it develops their creativity, nurturing instincts and fine motor skills. Babies who play with dolls for long hours also develop a heightened sense of responsibility as they care for their doll’s hair and clothes.

baby's first doll

Another great thing about watching your baby play pretend with their dolls is that it gives you an insight into how your baby sees you. As they mimic your actions and change the diaper of their doll or comb its hair, you will find out what they are learning from you.

A baby’s childhood would remain incomplete without dolls. If you are a new parent and looking to purchase your baby’s first doll, you are in the right place.  With more than a thousand dolls out there, picking one for your baby can be quite challenging.

To make your work easier for you, we have rounded up the best-rated dolls of 2021 so far. Our top picks include dolls that your child will naturally be enamored with and play with for a longest time.

Remember, your child will be sleeping, playing, eating, going out, and even taking a bath with their dolls in tow. You’re not just choosing your baby’s first doll but their first companion as well. You need to research and make a choice. We’ve done the work for you.

Our Baby's First Doll Top Picks

OUR TOP PICK

Melissa & Doug Mine to Love Jenna 12' Soft Body Baby Doll With Romper, Hat

Jenna by Melissa and Doug is a 12-inch doll and an amazing toy with adorable facial features. This doll comes in a cap and a matching cute smocked romper that can be removed easily to dress them up in alternative outfits. A distinct feature of this doll is its light pleasant smell.

The doll blinks her eyes and even sucks her thumb when it is in her mouth. Your child can remove the thumb and insert a pacifier and she’ll suck on it too like a real baby. Also like a real baby, this doll will close her bright blue eyes and go to sleep when rocked. Your baby would love that!

This doll has a very soft body and even softer baby-like cheeks, making her very cuddly and a favorite of babies and toddlers alike. The 12-inch size is best suited for babies 18 months or older. They can easily carry her around, cuddle, hug and play with her.


Melissa and Doug is a high quality brand when it comes to dolls. They have partnered with the American Academy of Pediatrics to nurture brain development through pretend play.

Pros

  • Easily removable clothes
  • A wipe-clean body
  • Ideal size for toddlers
  • The brand guarantees 100% happiness and invites a buyer to call if the child is not happy

Cons

  • No accessories provided with the doll

EDITORS CHOICE

The New York Doll Collection 11 inch Soft Body Doll in Gift Box - 11'' Baby Doll (Caucasian)

From the New York Doll Collection, this 11-inch Caucasian doll has the softest body that makes it ideal for your baby’s cuddles and hugs. This doll comes dressed in a pink and white onesie with a cute little matching cap. Suitable for toddlers aged 18 months and older, the doll is high quality and your baby will play with it for years to come.

This toy for your baby is created by the New York Doll Collection, a brand known for its modern selection of dolls and the use of durable vinyl for the doll’s body. In addition to Caucasians, the same doll is also available in various ethnicities including African American, Asian, Hispanic etc.

 This 11-inch Caucasian baby doll has amazing details in its head, arms and legs. This blue-eyed doll will capture your baby’s heart and create memories of a lifetime. This doll is unisex and perfect for both your boys and girls.


Pros

  • 100% washable by hand
  • This doll is safety tested for children
  • Clothes are safe for machine washing
  • Reasonably priced
  • Ideal size
  • The doll is full of personality

Cons

  • The pacifier that comes with it might be a choking hazard for younger infants in the house

BEST VALUE

Cabbage Patch Kids Official, Newborn Baby Doll Girl - Comes with Swaddle Blanket and Unique Adoption Birth Announcement

A name like Cabbage Patch needs no introduction. They have been creating dolls for babies for so long that it’s highly likely that you have played with them as well when you were younger. Cabbage Patch is nostalgic for many parents and it is a great chance to connect a piece of your childhood with that of your baby.

Cabbage Patch Newborn Baby Doll Girl has an extremely soft body which makes her cute and cuddly. This newborn baby girl doll comes in a removable swaddle and suckles her thumb like a real-life baby. As is typical with all Cabbage Patch dolls, it comes with a unique adoption birth announcement certificate (a hanging tag) with a name on it.

A unique feature of all Cabbage Patch dolls is their sweet scent which will make your baby love it and spend hours with it.  The size is small which makes it ideal for Easter baskets, Christmas stockings, and birthday parties.


Pros

  • Comes with a removable swaddle
  • Thumb sucking feature
  • Made with a very soft material
  •  Has the same old characteristic Cabbage Patch scent

Cons

  • With its 9-inch size, it is smaller than most dolls
  • Comes in a plastic bag

RUNNER UP

GUND My First Dolly Stuffed Plush Blonde Doll, 12'

Gund My First Dolly Stuffed Plush Blonde Doll is a 12-inch stunner with an adorable jumper and a hat to match. The white and pink outfit has “My First Dolly” embroidered on the front and cute flowers on the floppy hat.

This dolly has an extremely sweet and adorable facial expression that will make her a favorite of your child. The size of the doll is neither too big nor too small, making it ideal for all ages.

The doll is unique as everything on it is embroidered including the eyes, nose, mouth and eyebrows. This detail gives the doll a safe and adorable look that is the complete opposite of the creepy vibe that many dolls possess. If your child is scared easily when waking up next to toys, this one is for them.

 The entire doll is made from soft, cushiony material, making it super soft and cuddly for hugs and sleeping.


Pros

  • Completely safe for babies with its embroidered and stitched parts
  • No removable parts make it safe for young babies
  • Machine washable
  • Polyester material
  • Polyester fibers/polyurethane foam stiffeners
  • Can choose blonde or brunette

Cons

  • Hard to get clean and takes a long time to dry
  • Hair can be easily pulled off

RUNNER UP

Caucasian 11-inch Small Soft Body Baby Doll | JC Toys - La Baby | Washable |Removable Pink Outfit w/ Hat & Blanket | For Children 12 Months +

JC Toys’ LA Baby is an 11-inch soft baby doll with exquisite details. This doll is almost child-like with its deep-blue sparkling eyes, chubby fists, finely detailed wisps of hair and pouty baby lips. With its soft vinyl head, arms and legs, this doll mimics a real-life baby and will spark the imagination of your child.

The baby is dressed in a soft pink sleeper and matching hat. With the dress’s Velcro closure, it’s easy to remove the clothes and play dress-up with the doll.  

 This doll also comes with its pacifier and the doll’s favorite blanket for cuddling. This toy is completely safe for a one-year-old and older babies alike with the pacifier attached to the outfit. The doll doesn’t have any buttons, zippers, eyelashes or open-and-close eyelids that can pose a hazard to babies.


Pros

  • Durable material
  • Easy to change clothes
  • Comes with a pacifier and a blanket
  • Wipe-clean head, arms, and legs
  • Lightweight and just the right size
  • Safety tested and approved for children aged 12 months old and up
  • La Baby is BPA and phthalate-free.

Cons

  • The head of the doll is a little hard
  • The color of the clothes differs from the picture

First Doll Buying Guide & Factors to Consider

The market is overflowing with dolls to pick from for your baby. However, you can’t come home with just any doll as safety is paramount. There are several factors that you need to consider.

There are various types of doll such as floppy baby dolls, rag dolls, child-like dolls, unstuffed dolls etc. With so many choices and options and with you being a first-time parent, it can get confusing. If you are looking to purchase your baby’s first ever doll, here are some of the basic guidelines that you need to consider.

Size

This is a very tricky part. In terms of safety, the larger the doll and its parts are, the better. However, a large doll can be too difficult for your child to carry around and this can make them susceptible to falling.

Here’s a trick. Choose the size of the doll according to your child’s age but if it comes with separate parts, make sure that the parts are either irremovable or too big for the baby’s mouth. The average size of a baby doll is between 11 and 18-inches. You can pick the size by the age and size of your baby.

 In general, younger babies prefer to lug around dolls that are smaller than them. Older kids on the other hand gravitate towards life-like larger dolls.


Interactivity

Dolls with no unique functions or features get boring quickly unless, of course, the child has an active imagination and can play with it for hours. Most kids however need a little something extra to allow them to pretend play and enjoy it.

 See how interactive the doll is before making your purchase. Something as simple as a doll closing its eyes when rocked can stir the imagination of your baby. Suckling, crying and diaper changing are the other features that make a doll interactive.


Accessories

The accessories that come with the doll plays a huge role in how much your baby loves the doll. The creative accessories that come with the doll will help your child use their imagination. Some of the most popular accessories include baby food, feeders, strollers, blankets, pacifiers, themed playsets and an extra pair of clothes.

The Appearance of the Doll

Thanks to inclusivity, dolls now come in many ethnicities. You can pick a doll that is close to your child in appearance or you can pick a different ethnicity to make sure that your baby learns to find beauty in differences early on.

Additionally, you’ll want to invest in a doll that is adorable and pleasing to the eyes. Any type of doll can be pleasing to the eyes. Those with human-like features such as wispy hair, realistic skin tone, eyes and body are loved by some. Others prefer cartoonish yet adorable features such as a Pinocchio-style nose, round beaded eyes etc.

The kind of doll that you want to stay away from are the ones that look creepy and horrific.


Body

There are a range of options available to you when it comes to the body of the doll. You can pick it based on the age of the baby. For instance, unstuffed dolls are best suited for infants. It will be easier for them to hold onto and even if they end up hitting their face with it, it won’t hurt at all. 

Older kids wouldn’t appreciate unstuffed dolls and require something more solid for their pretend play. There are stuffed dolls and dolls with a vinyl body for older kids. Whatever you choose, keep in mind that the body should never be too hard or made with soft material, otherwise it can be hazardous for the babies. 

Batteries

If the doll you happen to like is battery-operated, you’ll need to make sure that it is sealed and child-proof. Small batteries, screws and removable objects pose a choking hazard to babies.

Frequently Asked Questions

As a parent, we are sure that you have many questions in order to ensure the absolute safety of your baby. In this section we will answer some of the most frequently asked questions:

Is a baby doll a good toy for toddlers?

Yes, baby dolls are amazing toys for toddlers. Pretending to play with baby dolls develops your child’s imagination and makes them responsible. Babies desperately want to copy their parents. The best way to allow them to do that is to give them a baby of their own. Playing with baby dolls also helps to develop the social skills of babies who do not have a playmate yet.

You’ll often notice your baby treating inanimate objects and even plushies like a doll. Why not get them a doll instead?

What is the best age to get them a baby doll?

Every kid is different and develops an interest in specific toys at different stages of their childhood. That said, the majority of toddlers show a keen interest in playing with baby dolls around the age of 18-months.

 However, unlike other toys, most kids would remember and relate to their baby dolls even as they get older. Even as an adult, we all remember our very first baby doll.


Do baby dolls encourage learning?

Baby dolls offer great learning opportunities. You can use a baby doll to teach your babies about body parts. You can also encourage your child to share their books with their dolls. This will allow your child to become familiar with the feel and vibe of storytelling, of how books work and you can even try to get them to impart their book-reading knowledge to the dolls.

 Baby dolls promote learning by allowing toddlers to practice, revise, share and develop their nurturing skills.


Can my baby boy play with a doll?

Yes, your baby boy has just as much right to play with dolls as your baby girl. Playing with dolls nurtures caring skills in babies which comes in handy when they become caring parents. Playing with baby dolls also teaches empathy and awareness, traits that could be majorly lacking in boys and girls who weren’t encouraged to play with dolls.

 The first baby doll of your child is a vital toy and creates a memory that lasts with them forever. Ask anyone with a happy childhood and they’ll remember their very first doll or stuffed toy. You can use this amazing toy to teach tons of life lessons and skills to your baby early on.  For these reasons alone, you need to bring the very best doll of 2021 home for your baby.


Video Idea for Baby's First Doll

We're not suggesting you go this elaborate. But here's a video to give you an idea of how creative you can get during playtime with your first dolls.

Last update on 2021-08-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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