Reborn baby dolls are one of the latest trends that people everywhere are jumping on. The hyper-realistic baby dolls are supposed to look like real babies—but they don’t always.
Clearly, it’s difficult to make a baby doll look like the real thing, and depending on the artist that makes the doll, there can be a ton of variation in terms of quality and style. Regardless, tons of people all over the world purchase and love on these dolls.
Sometimes people are just doll collectors and enthusiasts, while other times they’re dealing with emotional struggles in their lives. Most notably, some women purchase reborn dolls after experiencing pregnancy loss under the advice of their therapists or other doctors. Having a doll to cuddle can often help relieve stress and re-ground a person who is going through something tough.
There are also people who may not be able to have children for whatever reason, many of whom share their experiences on YouTube, among other places, who opt for realistic-looking baby dolls to fill a bit of a void in their lives.
Whatever the reason people buy them, the fact remains that there’s a huge market for reborn dolls. The thing is, while there are lots of things that are weirdly realistic about the dolls, there are just as many that are plain wrong.
Let's start with the 10 things that are weirdly realistic about them...
20 The Eyes Are Just Right
One of the most intimidating things about staring right at a well-done reborn doll is that the eyes look so real! In contrast with most kids’ baby dolls, these dolls don’t have the type of eyes that shut when you lay them down, and their unblinking stares are unnerving. At the same time, it’s a realistic portrayal of the way new babies stare at their mamas! And while it’s hard to say how they’ve managed to make the eyes look so real, it’s really impressive when you see one that’s done right. You would just about believe this little one was real!
19 So Much Variation In Hair
The way that dolls’ hair looks these days, even the dolls on store shelves, is a huge improvement on the painted heads of yesteryear. Not to mention that yarn hair a la Cabbage Patch Dolls. No, reborn dolls these days have realistic looking hair—and it might be because the hair is real. Reborn artists use a variety of materials, and some of the higher-end dolls have real human hair… Or hair from other sources. Either way, the dolls with hair that looks like it’s natural often take a lot of time to make, especially if the artist has to thread all the hairs as if they’re sewing it in. The result is uber-realistic, though!
18 Baby’s Chubby Cheeks
Not every newborn baby is extraordinarily chubby… But many are, and this reborn doll captures the likeness of every chubby-cheeked baby perfectly. So many reborn dolls look thin, but this tot has chipmunk cheeks that parents seriously adore, and it’s one of those things that helps make the doll look more realistic overall. Essentially, the chubbier a baby doll is, the more it looks like the real thing. It also helps the dolls look healthy, when otherwise their pallor might be a bit too much for people wanting a doll that looks like a living, breathing baby who might coo at any moment.
17 Range Of Skin Colors
What’s most amazing about reborn dolls is the range of skin colors and tones that artists make. It’s actually refreshing to see so many ethnicities of, albeit fake, babies. After all, one google search for “newborn baby,” and you’ll mostly see light-skinned babies. The diversity among reborn dolls is fantastic, and many of the skin colors are close to lifelike. Part of it is the shading that artists use, of course, which makes things look realistic overall. But it’s also nice that art imitates life in this sense, so someone who wants a doll that looks like them can definitely get it.
16 See-Through Veins
One thing that people who have never seen or held a newborn often don’t realize is that infants’ skin is usually really delicate. You can usually see their veins just under the surface of their skin, especially if they’re rather light-skinned, and it’s interesting to see this play out in reborn dolls. The addition of paint to look like veins on the dolls’ foreheads, hands, and feet is an amazing artistic feat, and I think this is one of the things that really makes a doll look like a real newborn. After all, no baby is one single color with no variation—there’s always a bit of coloration, especially right after birth.
15 Froggy-Legged Newborn
Here’s an example of a great froggy-legged newborn reborn doll! Just like a real baby, this doll has that folded-up sort of look, something most parents of newborns can relate to. If you put a newborn baby down on their side, they will most likely naturally move in this kind of position. It almost looks like you could just scoop this little guy up to snuggle—the placement of the arms and legs is that realistic. And catch that wrinkly little foot too—another perfect example of how reborn artists can do skin really well, to the point where you might be fooled by this image, if there wasn’t a plastic baby doll bottle!
14 Infant-Like Imperfections
Tell any new mom that her brand-new infant is imperfect, and she might have a few choice words for you. But in all honesty, newborns are sometimes not that attractive. They can have bruises from their swift exit, scratches from their own little baby nails, and even just some discoloration on their skin. So another way that reborn artists get things completely right is when they put realistic touches like bruises or other skin marks on their dolls. From painted-on baby acne to the presence of stork bite birth marks, some reborn dolls are made really realistic simply from being imperfect.
13 Grasping Hands
One of the things that’s so adorable and endearing about newborn babies are their little hands. They flex and grasp with their tiny fingers without really knowing what they’re doing, and a good reborn artist capitalizes on that! Hands might be tough to get right, but when they are done right, they’re amazing. Also, babies do weird things with their hands—think of the startle reflex when they fling their arms out—so it makes sense that not all reborn dolls will have their hands by their faces or at their sides. In terms of likeness to a real baby, a bit of movement is a great artistic tool.
12 Often Sleeping
Here’s one way that reborn dolls are supremely accurate when they’re newborn models: they are often depicted sleeping! And while some people want a reborn doll with the eyes open, it’s true that real newborns sleep upwards of 18 hours per day (well, at least parents can hope). So if you truly want an authentic reborn doll experience, it makes sense that your “newborn” will arrive sleeping and keep doing so! Besides, it’s easier to look at a reborn doll when it’s not starting back at you looking oh-so-real, especially when everything else about it makes people think it truly is a napping newborn.
11 A Little Squished
In that same vein regarding newborn baby appearances and attributes, another excellent and very realistic trait of reborn dolls is when they look a little squished. Just as no newborn is truly beautiful, most that take the traditional exit route wind up a little worse for wear when the main event is over. That means some bruising at times, and maybe a cone-shaped head, but also a bit of a squished face and maybe ears, too. That doesn’t make them any less adorable, of course, but it is cool to see that reflected in the really realistic reborn dolls on the market today.
And here are the 10 things that they get so wrong...
10 Hands Are Hard
Remember when you would try to draw figures as a child, and hands were always the hardest? How to fit five fingers on a hand, and how to make them look like something other than a claw, while also trying to make them functional. Imagine drawing fingers wrapped around something. Well, it’s like reborn dolls are the 3D variety of that same challenge. Hands are darn hard, and it’s not surprising that a lot of reborn dolls have really awkward hands that are so wrong in terms of not just newborn realism, but human realism in general. Put some mittens on that kid or something!
9 Glam Facial Features
Let’s be honest here: babies don’t wear makeup. So why do so many reborn artists give them highlighted eyes and dark lips? These fake tots look like they’re about to pose on IG, not go home with their new family. The makeup-look aside, many reborn dolls are also too-perfect as far as facial features go. Everyone knows most newborns aren’t that nice to look at, at least at first, because they’ve just been through a pretty rough entry—no matter how they were delivered! So model-photoshoot newborn photo sessions are never going to be a thing, no matter how hard this doll is glamming.
8 Too-Grown Toddler Hair
Most reborn dolls are meant to be newborns, so they’re understandably bald—or at least have only wispy hair—for that reason. But there are also reborn dolls that are supposed to look like toddlers, which is cool too, especially for collectors. The thing is, a lot of the toddler dolls take their grown-out hair too seriously. I mean, when’s the last time you saw a one-year-old with bangs that didn’t look like a bowl cut, or a toddler with hair all the way down to her rear end? It doesn’t usually happen, something that toddler reborn artists should probably note.
7 Shapes & Proportions
I’m all for body positivity, but realistically, among all the variations of actual newborn baby bodies, you probably won’t see the likes of this in real life. Body proportions are often strange with reborn dolls, especially the ones that have cloth middles. In this image, for example, because of where the legs are attached, this reborn doll has really wide hips. It’s not exactly realistic, although they did try to get the leg shape right. It’s just an awkward addition to the doll that makes it not so lifelike, despite the artist’s best efforts on the rest of the body and the face.
6 Too-Polished Lips
In another instance of baby glam gone wrong, here is further evidence that baby makeup is not and will never be a “thing.” Real babies—newborns especially—don’t have lush and glossy lips. They might have adorably plump lips, sure, but if they’ve just been born, their skin might also be a little dry and so their lips will be a bit scratchy, too. I’ve never seen a single newborn who looks like they’ve just glossed their lips in preparation for a close-up. And it’s unsettling because sometimes, the dolls look absolutely real otherwise. So what parent put lip gloss on their newborn?!
5 Not-So-Normal Newborn Legs
Something that always makes me giggle about newborn reborn dolls that are a little awkwardly done is their leg position. They can look super stiff and posed, which everyone knows newborns really don’t. First of all, a newborn is usually all tucked up inside the womb, so when they exit, they’re still a little wonky in terms of how they lay when mom or dad puts them down. They’re a bit floppy, too, but the idea is that a newborn will sort of curl up no matter how you put them down. So the stiff and straightened doll legs? Not normal.
4 Awkward Updates To Anatomy
This one is an awkward conversation to have, but in terms of anatomy, reborn artists sort of seem confused. If the idea is to have the reborn doll look like a newborn, who just exited the womb, then you would think “anatomically correct” would mean unaltered. In some cases, however, reborn artists label their baby boy dolls “anatomically correct” when the dolls have clearly had some *ahem* alterations done down below. The same goes for baby girl dolls with ear piercings—most people don’t run out and have their newborn’s ears pierced immediately after birth (and more people are forgoing it altogether until their kids can make their own choices about their bodies).
3 Painted-On Parts
These days, with all the materials reborn artists have to work with, there’s sort of no excuse for painted-on doll hair. Especially at the prices some people pay to have one of these works of art in their arms, it’s really surprising to find that not all reborn dolls have real (or at least real-looking) hair. After all, name one newborn who was born with literally no hair—not even a wisp. Most, if not all, babies have at least a little peach fuzz—and making some fuzzy hair would be more realistic than painted-on newborn hair any day. And for upwards of $1000? That baby doll better not be bald.
2 Some Skin Seems Odd
A lot of reborn dolls seem to have cloth bodies with plastic overlays, and then others appear to have all-plastic (or possibly silicone) bodies. In this case, it’s clearly a plastic or silicone tummy on this doll, but what is going on with its anatomy? The skin seems really odd, as I’ve never seen a baby who looks like that at bath time. From the color to the placement of his "natural" parts, it's weird to look at and arguably all wrong. Something's just not working here. It’s awkward overall, and it’s something that a lot of reborn dolls get so wrong.
1 Newborns… Sitting Up…
As mentioned, a lot of reborn dolls aim to imitate newborn babies. And if that’s the case, then why are so many of these reborn dolls already sitting up? I mean, sure, they could be a little advanced for their age, but still, it makes things awkward when you want to lie them down or hold them in your arms. Maybe taking some child development courses should be part of the whole reborn doll design experience! After all, most babies develop at about the same rate, so some guidelines would be great for making them seem even more realistic to people who buy them.