Dolls remain a favorite and popular toy. After all, baby dolls and little girls go together like PB&J.
The market has a vast array of dolls available for all age groups. We’ve selected the best baby doll choices based on the following age category breakdowns:
- Ages 2, 3, and 4
- Ages 5, 6, and 7
- Ages 8, 9, 10 and Up
Up Front – Our Favorite Doll Brands
For each age category, American Girl wins out for the best doll. American Girl does an amazing job of creating products that are age appropriate, quality and have a variety of fun accessories. While the price point is higher than some other brands, American Girl offers well-thought out and diverse toys that are designed to empower our children through play.
Of all the dolls I have purchased over the years, American Girl offers the most interactive experience for children. The shows, movies, books, accessories and in-store experiences all make this line the top choice of doll for all ages.
Bitty Baby is the top choice for ages two, three, and four. Actually, Bitty Baby is a good choice for baby dolls for 1 year olds and will remain a favorite toy through age eight! The Bitty Baby line offers many accessories and outfits. Although they must be purchased separately, American Girl offers a sweet line of Bitty Baby themed books that are perfect for reading aloud to your children.
For ages five, six, and seven, American Girl has the new Wellie Wisher doll line. The Wellie Wishers come in five different 16 inch dolls. The accompanying books and Amazon Prime show are also appropriate for the five, six, and seven age range. This line of sweet friends is sure to delight your girl.
For children ages eight, nine, ten, and up, the traditional 18 inch American Girl doll is the best on the market. The dolls are racially and ethnically diverse. Dolls range from modern to historic in theme and each comes with a chapter book.
If you are looking for the best doll brand on the market, American Girl is the choice- there’s a reason it’s the most popular doll. Below, I offer a list of runner-ups for each age group. The doll market has something for everyone at every price range.
Best Baby Dolls for 2, 3, and 4 Year Olds
The So Truly Mine Baby Doll is a very realistic baby doll designed to feel and weigh like a real baby for the littlest mommy’s, while the Classic So-Soft Baby Doll is a lightweight, plush, and very soft doll that even an infant could hold.
American Girl Bitty Baby
As I said above, Bitty Baby is the best doll for young children. Bitty Baby comes in six different varieties that offer different hair colors, skin tone,s and eye colors. Bitty baby is a sweet doll that will offer countless years of imaginative play. She’s my favorite soft baby doll.
Bitty Baby is the perfect choice for the child that is ready to begin creative play. As your child’s dexterity and imagination grow, you can add clothes and accessories to accompany Bitty Baby. What I love most about American Girl are the accompanying books that support each doll.
The box says it is for children 3+ and it certainly is the perfect size for toddlers.
Melissa & Doug Jenna 12″ Doll
Melissa & Doug is at it again with a cute and cuddly baby doll. The Jenna 12″ Doll features eyes that open and close, a removable outfit, and a pacifier. This baby doll can even suck its thumb!
Little ones will love rocking baby “night-night” and seeing her eyes close shut as they lay her down for bed. The thumb-sucking option can either be a good thing or a bad thing. If your child also sucks their thumb, they will love seeing baby do the same thing. On the other hand, if you’re trying to break your child from sucking their thumb, you may have trouble doing so when baby Jenna is allowed to.
So Truly Mine Baby Doll
I love the lifelike So Truly Mine Baby Doll. This doll is one of the most realistic dolls available for play by younger children. The doll is designed to feel and weigh like a real baby.
This doll is perfect if you are looking for a truly special gift for the young child in your life. I also love that this doll comes in racially and gender-diverse options. This is a great choice if you have a young boy that wants a male version of a baby doll.
Classic So-Soft Baby Doll
I love Classic So-Soft Baby Doll! This was actually the closest runner-up to Bitty Baby for me. As the doll is so soft, you can actually give it to your child as soon as they are born. It even has a peek-a-boo stain belly.
The So-Soft dolls are plush and huggable. Toss this doll in the washing machine when it gets dirty to give this baby a little bath. Because this one is soft, it could even be a suitable gift for a 1-year-old girl.
Manhattan Toy’s Baby Stella
My daughter fell in love with Baby Stella. This was the doll she had prior to her Bitty Baby. Baby Stella is the perfect first doll option and one of the best dolls for 1 year olds. She is soft, cute and comes with a pacifier that magnetizes to her mouth.
I also love that even though Baby Stella is a plush doll, she still comes with a variety of fun outfits and accessories. There is even a Baby Stella potty training book! If you are looking for the best first baby doll, Baby Stella is the choice for toddlers.
Cabbage Patch Newborn Swaddlers
We can not talk about baby dolls without mentioning Cabbage Patch. I am from the generation where our 1980’s parents were fighting over Cabbage Patch dolls to make Christmas dreams come true. Cabbage Patch offers a cute line of Cabbage Patch Little Swaddlers that are perfect for young children.
My daughter got this style Cabbage Patch for her first birthday and it became her special sleeping doll lovingly named Baby. This doll has been washed in the washing machine and traveled with us all over the country, and is still in great condition. You cannot go wrong with the Cabbage Patch brand.
Madame Alexander Baby Huggums
Madame Alexander is known for their collectable dolls. These are a great option for families that have a tradition of collecting dolls. These little baby dolls have moving eyelids to make play more fun and realistic.
Families have enjoyed buying Madame Alexander baby dolls for the little one in the family as a tradition. At 12″, these dolls are the perfect size for little hands. You can wipe the vinyl head clean with a washcloth. The rest of the body is soft and easy to squeeze.
HABA Snug-up Doll Luis
The HABA Snug-up Doll Luis is a cute baby boy doll that is soft and cuddly. Made with fleece, your little one will love holding and carrying around this baby boy doll.
At 8″, Luis is the perfect size for little hands of toddlers. The scarf and hat are sewn on, so keep this in mind if you think your child will get mad trying to take them off. On the other hand, you won’t have to worry about losing these pieces. Don’t forget to check out Luis’ companion doll, Luisa.
Mon Doudou Floral Bloom
Corolle offers a large selection of dolls for all ages. I like the Mon Doudou Miss Happy Panda Doll line for young children. The dolls are 10 to 11 inches and have soft, huggable bodies. The dolls are machine washable on gentle which makes these the perfect sleeping companion.
These are our favorite dolls but don’t miss these gift and toy recommendations:
Best Baby Dolls for 5, 6, and 7 Year Olds
The American Girl Wellie Wishers is a set of dolls of several young friends that includes an easy to read chapter book with each doll, whereas the Luvabella Newborn Interactive Doll is a true baby doll that has real human features such as crying, giggling, and making baby sounds that are so realistic it is more like a real baby.
American Girl Wellie Wishers
Wellie Wishers is American Girl’s new doll line. The line was released in 2016 along with an Amazon Prime animated show and easy read chapter books. My daughter fell in love immediately with the Wellie Wishers.
The Wellie Wishers are five racially diverse friends that are geared specifically for girls ages five, six, and seven. The 16-inch dolls have a large selection of accessories and outfits including matching outfits for your child. As with other American Girl products, the Wellie Wishers are great quality, cute and fun to play with.
Luvabella Newborn Interactive Doll
The Luvabella Newborn Doll is truly unique. The doll has human-like expressions and does the things that real babies do.
She is sometimes cooing, fussy, giggly or crying. You can see her breathing and if you put your ear on her tummy, you can even hear the heartbeat!
She comes with a bottle which she actually suckles with her mouth. When you pat her back and give her the included pacifier, she gurgles and makes sweet sounds. This doll is more like a baby than a doll and your daughter will love her.
Baby Alive Sweet Spoonfuls
Baby Alive does a great job creating fun, interactive dolls. However, what I love most about Baby Alive is the diversity offered. The Baby Alive dolls come in a dark and light skin tones and both male and female dolls.
The manufacturer states the Sweet Spoonfuls doll is appropriate starting at age three. However, as a mom, I think this doll would be frustrating for younger children. Baby Alive’s Sweet Spoonfuls allows children to feed the doll and watch as the doll poops and pees. This is a top choice for birthday gifts for my children’s friends because of the budget-friendly price and diverse options.
Paradise Galleries Lifelike Realistic Dolls
Paradise Galleries is the perfect choice for the child that wants a lifelike doll. Paradise Galleries FlexTouch technology gives the doll’s hands and feet a lifelike feel. The doll’s skin is created with silicone-like vinyl to offer the most realistic play experience.
This line of dolls also meets the diversity standards with a wide range of racial options. The line also offers several choices for male dolls. If you are looking for a realistic look and feel for your doll, Paradise Galleries is the best option.
Cabbage Patch Kids
Again, Cabbage Patch is a top creator of fun and creative dolls. The 14 inch Cabbage Patch Kids dolls are perfect for the five, six, and seven age range. These dolls are more budget-friendly than some of the other brands but offer just as much playing fun.
Cabbage Patch doesn’t offer many fancy features, but these dolls do invite hours of imaginative play. Another fun feature of the Cabbage Patch brand is the adoption certificate. Each doll comes with a recommended name, or your child can select their own special name for the doll.
Corolle Les Classiques Chouquette
This Corolle line of dolls is a step up from the plush Flora Bloom. The Corolle Mon Premier Poupon Bebe Calin line offers dolls with lifelike appearance with an adorable face. This doll is a baby and gives children an experience playing with a doll designed to represent a child who needs care and empathy.
Corolle dolls are designed and crafted in France and are of great quality. The dolls are created to look like actual children. This doll is perfect for the 18 months to 5 years old age range because it offers dexterity that still makes dressing the doll easy for learning fingers.
For lots of other gift and toy ideas see:
- Gift ideas for 5 year old girls
- Gift ideas for 6 year old girls
- Gift ideas for 7 year old girls
- Best baby doll accessories
- Best baby doll strollers
Best Baby Dolls for Ages 8, 9, and 10 Years Old and Up
While Lottie Dolls are a 7″ alternative to Barbie dolls and a mission to let children to be themselves, the Adora Realistic Baby Doll is a 20″ realistic doll that looks like a toddler instead of an infant, perfect for a girl who loves to play Mommy or a little girl expecting a new sibling.
American Girl Doll
Once again, American Girl is the best doll. The original 18 inch doll is perfect for children eight years and older. These dolls are designed to be the age of the child playing with them. When your child no longer wants to play baby but instead wants a doll that is like a friend, American Girl is your best bet.
Each doll comes with a unique story told in accompanying chapter books. The BeForever line offers historical dolls from different times throughout history. The newest doll is Luciana Vega, an astronaut, that my daughter has on her wishlist.
Adora Adoption Baby Hope
Adora Adoption Baby Hope is such a cute doll to teach the little ones in your life about adoption or for the little ones in your life that have been adopted themselves.
Baby Hope comes with a baby blanket, certificate of adoption, pacifier, diaper, hospital bracelet, and baby crib that is the perfect size! You can even write on the certificate and hospital bracelet to personalize it. To make play even more realistic, Baby Hope arrives smelling like fresh baby powder and has eyes that open and close.
Parents love the realistic weight of this baby and the fact that the blanket velcros shut to stay closed around the doll. There are 5 varieties of skin tones to choose from with Adora Adoption babies, making this a unique and personalized baby doll gift.
Lottie Dolls are designed in Ireland with the mission to let children be themselves and offer a realistic body image. As a mom, I love that message. Lottie dolls are an alternative to Barbie and are only seven inches tall. If like me, you struggle with what Barbie represents, I encourage you to check out the Lottie brand.
The Lottie dolls come in many different cool varieties including an artist, hunter, and star gazer. This line also has a vast line of accessories to offer hours of play.
Adora Toddler Baby
For the girl inching closer to the tween years that still loves to play with babies, the Adora Toddler Baby is a great choice. This 20-inch doll is recommended for ages six and up, but I think this is a doll more appropriate for an older child.
The doll is weighted, has realistic hair and vinyl skin designed to be lifelike. I think this would be a great choice for an older child that is expecting a new sibling. The lifelike experience will offer hours of imaginative mommy play.
Cabbage Patch Kids Vintage
Once again, I am recommending Cabbage Patch Kids. Like American Girl, Cabbage Patch knows how to make dolls that children love. For your older child, a Cabbage Patch Kids Vintage doll is perfect. These are the dolls we had as children.
The vintage Cabbage Patch Kids have yarn hair. You can even pull out your old doll to add to your child’s collection. This doll is one that your older child can have as a collectible item for years to come. She may even share it with her daughter.
Glitter Girls by Battat
Glitter Girls are 14 inch dolls that invite role-playing experiences. This is another alternative to Barbie and a good transition doll for older girls. The dolls look like tween-aged girls. While I would prefer they offer more racially diverse options, they do offer one dark-skinned doll.
The Glitter Girls have a variety of outfits and accessories available for purchase. I love the realistic body image and empowering themes offered with this product line.
Here are more gift and toy ideas to go along with a doll for older girls:
Comparing Baby Dolls
How to Select the Best Doll
Choosing the right doll for your child should be fun. I love that my daughter enjoys playing with dolls. Her top choice is by far all of the offerings from American Girl. However, she also loves her Baby Alive dolls and Cabbage Patch Kids.
When choosing a doll consider the following criteria to select the perfect option for your child.
The biggest decision you will need to make is your budget. If budget is not a deterrent then choose the best doll in your price range. The great news is that you can find fun, quality dolls in almost any price range.
I find that I spend more money when I buy a doll for my child for a holiday. However, when I am buying a present for my children’s friends, I often select a more appropriately priced option like Baby Alive. Do your research to make sure that whatever you choose is worth the money invested.
I believe diversity is important. When we spend money on brands that offer diverse dolls, and when we purchase those dolls ourselves, manufacturers understand the importance of offering more diverse products.
When selecting a doll, research what racial, ethnic and gender dolls are available. My favorite brands for their diverse representation are Rubens Barn, Baby Alive, and American Girl.
As with most things, you get what you pay for. I have found that the American Girl brand holds up well. Also, the American Girl stores offer their doll hospital to repair damage to the dolls. This extends the life of the doll.
Avoid low price discount dolls. Often these are not made with quality materials and will not last. Nothing is more disappointing than seeing your child fall in love with a doll and then the doll falling apart. I recommend investing in better quality toys. Personally, I’d rather my children have fewer toys that are of better quality.
The accessories are what makes toys the most fun. Before you purchase a doll, research what accessories are available. You want to be able to buy a quality doll and then add on with accessories. I love the American Girl brand for this reason.
I also think for the younger children Manhattan Toy’s Baby Stella is a great choice because of the accessories. Personally, I am not a fan of Barbie but for your older child, there are many alternatives that now offer a great selection of fun accessories.
FAQs – The Best Baby Dolls
How long can my child play with dolls?
Forever! There are many adult women who still love dolls. While it is common for girls to stop playing with dolls when they enter junior high and high school, there are those girls who just love dolls and never lose that joy of a new doll. Many people collect dolls all of their lives and even nursing homes find that giving a baby doll to an Alzheimer patient is very beneficial to their health. Therefore, even though girls entering their teen years begin to feel it may be socially unacceptable, it can also be a lifetime love and passion that they never outgrow.
Can my little boys play with dolls?
Absolutely! Dolls can be loved by anyone and actually can bring many benefits to little boys. Caring for a doll teaches them how to be nurturing, loving, and caregiving. Traditional gender roles are a thing of the past and these little boys may very well become dad’s down the road so this will teach them many skills that they can throughout their childhood and into parenthood, such as empathy and affection. And if they are going to be a big brother, it teaches them about caring for the baby that will soon enter their lives. So do not stop your little boys from playing with dolls or kitchens or toy vacuums and instead think of the wonderful husbands and fathers you are preparing them to be one day.
What are some benefits to playing with dolls?
There are many benefits for children playing with dolls. One big benefit is that they will use their imaginations. With all the movies, tv shows, video games, and phone apps nowadays, our children have too much screen time. But playing with dolls allow them to role play and use their imaginations to care for their little babies. It encourages responsibility and empathy as they are caring for a baby instead of wanting something for themselves. It also can teach social skills when children play with their dolls together as well as can help with language development when they talk to their little babies or friends.
Are there benefits to getting multicultural dolls?
YES! Having dolls of different cultures and skin color helps your little ones recognize both the similarities and differences between people. It is also a way to teach your child about different cultures from the earliest ages. It will help your child to recognize and celebrate diversity from the start of their lives which brings only positive aspects to their lives as they enter the world and have the opportunity to meet other children and adults. Let’s face it… none of us are exactly the same and we should celebrate that.