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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 so many options on the market, we researched and tested the baby dolls, evaluating lifelike features, interactive elements, durability, and included doll accessories. We chose the Adora Playtime "Little Prince" doll as the best overall pick for its realistic features—like a weighted bottom and ability to suck its thumb—skin tone variation, and high quality feel.
Here are the best baby dolls of 2022.
Best Overall: Adora Playtime "Little Prince" 13 inch Baby Boy Doll
Eyes open and close
Small for older kids
Onesie can be tricky to get off
What do buyers say? 84% of 500+ Amazon reviewers rated this 4 stars or above.
The Adora PlayTime Baby Doll has a weighted bottom allows your child to position the baby doll in a seated position or carry it tucked under their arm. The doll can suck its thumb and close its eyes and comes in different skin tones, genders, and outfits.
Our tester found that the doll was high-quality and soft to the touch. Also importantly, the doll is BPA- and phthalate-free, and compliant with the standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
The doll even comes with a cute onesie that your child can take on and off, and 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. But our tester found it was perfect for toddlers, even if baby dolls aren't their usual toy of choice.
Best Classic: Cabbage Patch Kids Baby Doll
Unique purchasing experience
Plush or vinyl
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
Good for young kids
Onesie can be tricky to get off
The Bitty Baby from American Girl 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
Accessories fit 12-inch and 15-inch dolls
100 percent plush
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
The Melissa & Doug Mine to Love 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.
Best for Infants: Creative Minds Basket of Babies Plush Dolls
100 percent plush
Comes with six dolls
Kids will outgrow quickly
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 Older Children: American Girl Historical Characters Dolls
Books to complement the story
Relatable for kids
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
Diverse interests represented
Includes boy dolls with interests
A lot of pets
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
Accessories are separate
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.
Our top pick are Adora Playtime dolls (view at Amazon) for their more realistic features and interactive qualities, like eyes that open and close, a weighted bottom, and the ability to suck its thumb. 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.
What to Look for in a Baby Doll
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 they can 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.
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.
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.
How do you fix baby doll hair?
If you have access to the manufacturer’s instructions, start by reading and following them. Otherwise there are several popular methods for smoothing out a baby doll’s tangled, unkempt hair. These include soaking the hair in fabric softener, hair conditioner, or a mix of baby shampoo and water for 10 minutes or longer depending on the damage, then rinsing well with water and combing gently before allowing to air dry.
How do you clean a baby doll?
Different dolls require different cleaning methods since baby dolls, unlike actual babies, are made from a variety of materials. Some dolls are machine washable, while others are too delicate and must be washed by hand. You can try cleaning a plastic baby doll by hand by removing any clothing and dipping it in a bowl of water mixed with a small amount of baking soda, gently scrubbing off any dirt, rinsing in clean water, and gently towel drying. While baking soda is a natural cleaning product, keep in mind that it is abrasive so don’t rub too hard. Plastic baby dolls can also be wiped down with a cloth dipped in warm or cool water and mild detergent, before being wiped with clean water and towel dried. You can try spot cleaning a baby doll using a soft toothbrush dipped in water and mild detergent to remove stubborn dirt from a baby doll. When in doubt, do a patch test on a small area that isn’t too visible to make sure that the cleaning method doesn’t damage or discolor doll skin. Plush baby dolls can be washed like stuffed animal toys.
How do baby doll bottles work?
Some baby doll bottles have “disappearing” milk that vanishes when the bottle is tipped upside down to convince little ones that their toy dolls are drinking milk. To achieve this visual illusion, baby doll bottles have a bottle within a bottle construction. Liquid “milk” is trapped between the bottles, and flows into the nipple cap of the bottle when tipped so that it appears the doll has sucked the milk down. When the bottle is returned to an upright position, the faux milk flows right back into the reservoir and the bottle is magically full so that the doll can be fed all over again.
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.