The 9 Best Baby Dolls of 2021

Help encourage nurturing play for kids

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Best Baby Dolls

The Spruce / Chloe Jeong

Dolls are a great way for kids to play and pretend at the same time. All children can enjoy and learn from gentle, nurturing play that teaches empathy and care. With options ranging from soft, plush dolls perfect for nighttime snuggles to dress-up dolls that allow kids to get creative, there is a new best friend out there for every child. Look for dolls that are the right fit for your child’s age, keep their safety in mind (especially for young children who might not be ready to handle a doll with small accessories), and have the features they will love.

Here are the best baby dolls to let your children take care of their own babies.

Our Top Picks
The charm of these baby dolls comes from their elaborate backstories and the experience of adopting.
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This doll comes in multiple skin tones, hair colors, and eye colors, and it has realistic accessories.
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With a 100 percent plush body and head, it is soft enough to take to bed and snuggle.
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The separate accessories allow your child to interact with their new baby doll in a variety of realistic ways.
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Your infant can snuggle them, stack them, change their easy-to-adjust rompers, and begin to pretend play.
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The weighted bottom allows your child to position the baby doll in a seated position or carry it tucked under their arm.
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Each has its own story, which describes the life of a typical girl in that time period and location.
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Best With Accessories:
Our Generation Dolls at Target
They have everything from career interests such as a doctor, astronaut, and teacher to hobbies such as dance and sports.
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The Create Your Own line is the most customizable doll on the market.
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Best Classic: Cabbage Patch Kids Baby Doll

Cabbage Patch Kids Baby Doll

Weight: 1.4 to 1.7 pounds | Dimensions: 9 to 16 inches | Age Range: 3+ years | Machine Washable: Yes

What We Like
  • Unique purchasing experience

  • Elaborate backstories

  • Plush or vinyl

What We Don't Like
  • Not customizable

  • Hard to find exact dolls

Multiple generations of children have known and loved Cabbage Patch Kids. These dolls are “born” in Georgia and “adopted” by loving children around the world. The charm of these baby dolls comes from their elaborate backstories and the experience of adopting, rather than simply purchasing. Sizes range from 9-inch babies to 16-inch toddlers. While there are a lot of skin tones, hair colors, and eye colors, you might have to wait a while for a doll with the exact combination you want to be “born.” If you are feeling extra nostalgic, consider one of the one-of-a-kind vintage collectible dolls, which start around $250 to $300.

Best Realistic: American Girl Bitty Baby Doll

American Girl Bitty Baby Doll

Weight: 1.32 pounds | Dimensions: 15 inches | Age Range: 3+ years | Machine Washable: No

What We Like
  • Customizable look

  • Good for young kids

  • Interactive accessories

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Onesie can be tricky to get off

If you are looking for a baby doll to introduce to your child, the Bitty Baby from American Girl is the new friend you need. The baby comes in multiple skin tones, hair colors, and eye colors. It comes already dressed in a onesie that your child can remove, but the closures might require some help from an adult. It also has realistic accessories, such as bottles, a high chair, diapers, and a stroller. This doll is expensive but still one of the more affordable options from American Girl. It is the perfect way to allow your child to care for their very own baby right alongside you and makes a great gift for children getting ready to welcome a sibling.

Best Plush: Manhattan Toy Wee Baby Stella Beige

Manhattan Toy Wee Baby Stella Beige

Weight: 3.8 ounces | Dimensions: 12 inches | Age Range: 12+ months | Machine Washable: Yes

What We Like
  • Accessories fit 12-inch and 15-inch dolls

  • 100 percent plush

  • Machine washable

What We Don't Like
  • No interactive features

With a 100 percent plush body and head, this doll is soft enough for your little one to take to bed and snuggle. It comes with a magnetic pacifier to encourage pretend play. The doll itself doesn’t have any special interactive features, but there are numerous accessories available separately to allow your child to care for their doll, such as feeding and sleeping. We love that the accessories also work with the 12-inch and 15-inch dolls from Manhattan Toys.

Best Interactive: Melissa & Doug Mine to Love Jordan Baby Doll

Melissa & Doug Mine to Love Jordan

Weight: 1.26 pounds | Dimensions: 12 inches | Age Range: 18+ months

What We Like
  • Interactive accessories

  • Lifelike features

What We Don't Like
  • Not customizable

Encouraging your child to care for a baby gently, the Melissa & Doug Mine to Love dolls are as cute as they are fun. The babies come with a pacifier, which your child can put right in their mouth. They can also “suck” their thumb and close their eyes as your child rocks them to sleep. The separate accessories allow your child to interact with their new baby doll in a variety of realistic ways: bottles and cups with “disappearing” liquid, pretend shampoo for bath time, and doll-size toys and play mats. One of our favorite aspects of the Melissa & Doug toys is they offer boy dolls, which can be a great way to help your child get ready to welcome their baby brother.

Best for Infants: Creative Minds Basket of Babies Plush Dolls

Basket of Babies Plush Dolls

Weight: 10.24 ounces | Dimensions: 4.55 inches | Age Range: Newborn and up | Machine Washable: Yes

What We Like
  • 100 percent plush

  • Comes with six dolls

  • Simple

What We Don't Like
  • Kids will outgrow quickly

New parents have enough to remember without keeping track of where a baby doll ended up. The Basket of Babies from Creative Minds comes with six plush dolls, all nestled into a cozy plush basket. Your infant can snuggle them, stack them, change their easy-to-adjust rompers, and begin to pretend play. They aren’t the most interactive, and children might outgrow them quickly. But they're great to pass along to a new sibling. They include a variety of skin tones, which we also appreciate as a way to introduce diversity from a young age.

Best for Toddlers: Adora Playtime "Little Prince" 13 inch Baby Boy Doll

Adora Playtime "Little Prince" 13 inch Baby Boy Doll

Weight: 1.3 pounds | Dimensions: 13 inches | Age Range: 1+ years | Machine Washable: Yes

What We Like
  • Machine washable

  • Eyes open and close

  • Interactive to take care of

What We Don't Like
  • Small for older kids

  • Onesie can be tricky to get off

The best baby dolls for toddlers introduce more realistic features and interaction while still being easy to carry and clean. The Adora PlayTime Baby Doll can open and close its eyes and suck its thumb. The weighted bottom allows your child to position the baby doll in a seated position or carry it tucked under their arm. The doll even comes with a cute onesie that your child can take on and off, dressing their own baby just like their parents do with them. Our favorite feature is this baby doll is machine washable. This ensures that the baby doll will be clean and cute for years, no matter what games your toddler wants to play. This is a 13-inch doll, so your child might outgrow its size within a couple of years.

What Testers Say

"Right out of the box, the Adora PlayTime Baby Doll was a huge hit with both my 3-year-old daughter and my 6-year-old son. Each thought the Little Prince version we selected was adorable and immediately went about building him his own place to sleep ... so he’d be cozy in his new home."Nicholas McClelland, Product Tester

Best for Older Children: American Girl Historical Characters Dolls

American Girl Historical Characters

Weight: 3 to 4 pounds | Dimensions: 18 inches | Age Range: 8+ years | Machine Washable: No

What We Like
  • Interactive history

  • Books to complement the story

  • Relatable for kids

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Needs some upkeep

The historical character dolls from American Girl are great for getting your older children immersed in their doll's world. With 11 girls to choose from, each has its own story that describes the life of a typical girl in that time period and location. They come with six books that depict everyday life and adventures that your child can relate to and learn from. They also have realistic accessories that complement the books. These 18-inch dolls are also compatible with the modern clothes and accessories from American Girl. Even though they are a pricey investment, you can be sure that your child will get plenty of play from this purchase. To take the best care of your child’s doll, follow the care instructions or send them off to American Girl’s doll hospital for bigger repairs.

Best With Accessories: Our Generation Dolls

Our Generation Dolls

Weight: 2.48 pounds | Dimensions: 18 inches | Age Range: 3+ years | Machine Washable: No

What We Like
  • Diverse interests represented

  • Includes boy dolls with interests

  • A lot of pets

What We Don't Like
  • Needs more STEM and sports interests


If your child has a special interest, chances are that Our Generation has a doll and accessories to match. These budget-friendly dolls are comparable to American Girl in size and range but at a fraction of the cost. They have everything from career interests such as a doctor, astronaut, and teacher to hobbies such as dance and sports. They also have a lot of options for boy dolls and pet accessories. Our only wish is that they had more accessories that encouraged kids to go into fields like STEM or sports. Most of their offerings are weighed heavily toward dance, gymnastics, and other interests traditionally marketed to little girls.

Best Customizable: American Girl Create Your Own Doll

American Girl Create your Own Doll

Weight: 3 to 4 pounds | Dimensions: 18 inches | Age Range: 8+ years | Machine Washable: No

What We Like
  • Customizable look

  • Numerous accessories

  • Inclusive

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Accessories are separate

American Girl may be one of the best-known names in baby dolls and for good reason. The Create Your Own line is the most customizable doll on the market. You can choose skin tone, hair color, eye color, facial features, interests, and glasses. It is also one of the most inclusive doll brands and has special features, such as hearing aids and glasses, to make sure your child can customize a doll that looks just like them. These dolls are expensive though, and the additional accessories, purchased separately, can quickly add up. They make a great gift for a special birthday or celebration and can even be passed down to grandchildren one day. Giving your child a doll that looks just like them is a special moment.

Final Verdict

Our top pick is the Our Generation line of 18-inch dolls (view at Target) for its budget-friendly price, a broad range of accessories, and good size and quality. If you want to invest in a top-of-the-line doll that you can pass down to future siblings or generations, opt for the American Girl Historical Character (view at American Girl) or American Girl Create Your Own Doll (view at American Girl) lines and accessorize from one of the more budget-friendly companies. Manhattan Toy Wee Baby Doll (view at Amazon) is a good option for young children who are just starting to pretend play and interact with dolls.

What to Look for in a Baby Doll

Recommended Age

Consider the recommended age for a baby doll to make sure you are spending your money on a toy your child will like. Infants and younger children can get overwhelmed by too many ways to interact with a toy and will gravitate to simpler toys, such as plush dolls to hug. Older children will appreciate baby dolls that they can care for, often mimicking their parents as they feed, dress, and put their baby dolls to sleep.

Safety

One of the most important things to look for in a baby doll is safety, especially if you are shopping for a young child. Baby dolls should be made of non-toxic materials, whether they are plush or plastic. Children will hug and kiss their baby doll, having the material close to their mouth and nose. You should also be on the lookout for small parts that might make a particular baby doll unsafe for infants and toddlers. Accessories like earrings, sports gear, or doll art supplies are better left for older kids who know not to put them in their mouths. For families with children of different ages, make sure to organize your playroom to keep the smallest pieces away from the youngest children.

Features

Some dolls have special features, such as eyes that close or sounds, that make them more realistic. Others rely on accessories to create a doll world that your child can enjoy, such as strollers, cribs, or pets. Think about how your child likes to play as you choose a baby doll with the features they will love. If your doll is a common size, such as 18 inches, you might even be able to combine dolls and accessories from two different lines for a customized play experience.

Adora PlayTime Baby Doll

The Spruce / Nicholas McClelland

Why Trust The Spruce?

This article was researched and written by Katie Begley, a freelance writer specializing in home and family products. Katie has been writing for The Spruce since 2019. For this roundup, Katie looked for features that kids would enjoy playing with and top quality that would last through years of playtime. She also consulted a few local experts, her three young children, to see which dolls got the most hugs and made their eyes light up.

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