Articles on: Reborn Therapy Baby Dolls

History of Doll Collecting and the Reborn Baby Fad
Article from info barrel

Doll collecting as a hobby took off in the mid 1800s when French and German doll makers began making high-end limited edition dolls for the children of wealthy patrons. Collectors took an interest in these finely crafted dolls, and by the 1900s, many manufacturers were marketing dolls with adult collectors in mind as well. Today, there are bustling collectors' markets for china dolls, French bisque dolls, as well as American Girl and Barbie dolls, though these latter two were originally intended as toys for young girls. 

Though dolls representing adults have been used as toys since antiquity, dolls representing semi-realistic babies were not mainstream until the mid 1800s. But even generations later, these baby dolls were not highly sought after by collectors. 

It wasn't until the late 1900s when baby doll craftsmanship was revitalized. A then obscure practice called "reborning" became more and more popular. Reborn artists started using doll parts with true to life features, and pioneered painting techniques that resulted in dolls with the look and feel of real newborns. Along with this new niche in doll making came a new kind of doll collector as well.

Today, most women who collect, or "adopt" reborn babies are older women who view them as surrogates for children missing in their lives. Additionally, some owners use the dolls as part of "cuddle therapy" to help grieving women cope with a lost child. Women who collect reborn dolls do not typically maintain vast collections of other types of dolls. Though reborn dolls are cherished by their doll mothers, many people outside this collecting phenomenon view the dolls as creepy and macabre. 

Reborn Doll Kits

Reborn dolls often start from a kit that includes a vinyl head, two arms, and two legs. Expert sculptors create the vinyl molds to look like real newborns. They have scrunched up faces, balled fists and feet, and real baby-like wrinkles. The material is made to feel like soft baby, skin, and yet withstand temperatures high enough for the special heat-set paints used to color the babies. Some kits may also come with a cloth body or clothes, but many reborn artists make these pieces themselves to match custom orders.

Painting the Reborn Babies

The painting techniques used in reborning are what set it apart from other styles of doll making. Since the insides of the heat and limb pieces are hollow, the inside is coated with light blue paint to mimic realistic skin undertones of light skinned babies. For darker skinned dolls, a darker paint may be used. Then the reborn artist adds flesh colored paints are added one layer at a time, (approx. ten layers) baking between each layer. Since the vinyl pieces are somewhat translucent, the blue undertone can give the effect of fine veins if the painting is done right. A well-made reborn baby will have skin that is velvety and somewhat mottled like a real newborn's. Since many reborn dolls are custom ordered, an artist can even add birthmarks and imperfections upon request. If the mouth is open, the inside will also be painted pink as well. 


Hair, Eyes, and Nails

Real human hair or mohair is used to create eyelashes and wispy locks on the scalp. A very thin needle is used to poke it into the soft vinyl. This way, the hair actually looks like it is growing out of the skin. 

For reborn babies with awake expressions, specially made eyes are set behind the eyelids. These eyes are much more realistic than regular toy doll eyes. They are very shiny with dark irises and faint blood vessels. 

Finally, the reborn doll makers paint realistic nails at the fingertips. Nontoxic paints and polishes can be used upon request of the buyer.

Giving the Babies Weight

Before the head and limbs are sewn into the body, they are filled with sand, glass beads or lighter material to give the baby weight.
A reborn baby's head is heavy enough so that it must be supported when the doll is cradled.
In creating the effect of realism, no detail is overlooked!


"Adopting" a Reborn Baby

A reborn doll collector is often attached to her baby doll as though it were a real baby. Because there is this important emotional aspect to ordering and purchasing a doll, the process is treated as an adoption. The baby is often picked up from a "nursery" and the doll is handed over to the mother with a birth certificate. Purchasing is largely done online, and the price tag for an expertly crafted doll can be several thousand dollars. Women who "adopt" reborn babies often spend much more money on other baby items, such as strollers, cribs, and clothes. 

Unlike with other types of doll collecting, most reborn babies rarely change owners. The dolls are not viewed as an investment, as many other collectibles are. 


Many people outside of the world of reborning and reborn doll collecting are turned off by the dolls. When photographed, they are often indistinguishable from a real baby, and if a sleeping reborn doll is taken out in a stroller, most passersby will not know it is a fake baby. But when it is revealed to be merely a doll, the realism can be creepy, especially if the doll has an awake expression. 

Psychologists are seeing the therapeutic benefit of reborn dolls.

Article from info barrel.


 Reborn Babies have a positive affect on Alzheimer & Dementia patients. 

Columbus, OH - May 20, 2004

- Caregivers of the estimated 4.5 million Americans living with Alzheimer's disease often deal with patients who are uncooperative and combative because of the disease's main symptom, dementia. However, coordinators of the Central Ohio Alzheimer's Association Sunday Adult Day Care Program and Reborn Doll Makers are working together to show caregivers and Alzheimer's patients how to use dolls as a form of therapy to curb communication and emotional problems. Ohio based Reborn Baby Doll Maker has received hundreds of letters in recent years from Alzheimer's caregivers who say their patients stopped wandering, arguing, and putting things in their mouths when introduced to the company's lifelike dolls. Each doll is sculpted and weighted to look and feel like a real baby. Central Ohio Alzheimer's Association Sunday Adult Day Care Program coordinators started testing the doll in April 2004 and saw immediate results. "The lower functioning group held on to the baby and enjoyed cuddling it. The higher functioning group really took notice of the doll's realistic features," said Lisa Brosnahan, Sunday Adult Day Care program coordinator. "One woman became very calm and didn't pace as much." Coordinators also found patients' hands remained busy with the dolls, discouraging them from taking and hiding items that don't belong to them. "The Reborn Baby dolls definitely received a stronger reaction from the group than other dolls we've used," said Brosnahan. A study performed at Florida Gulf Coast University funded by the National Alzheimer's Association tested the response of 20 subjects to the Reborn Baby doll. The research team found the doll to be "very superior to any other dolls or stuffed animals currently being used in long-term care sites." Research associate, Suzanne Fitzsimmons also said, "this product is a 'must have' for any residential facility that cares for older adults with dementia.

Ohio based Reborn Baby Doll Maker was used in place of the original company due to conflict of interest.