Reborn Dolls and Lifelike Baby Dolls
I used to have a friend who collected reborn dolls. I have to admit that some of her reborn babies were so realistic that they were almost a little spooky. Oftentimes, I half-expected the baby dolls to wake up and cry to be fed, changed, or cuddled. My girls had owned some lifelike baby dolls over the years, but nothing that compared to reborn dolls. Reborn babies look so real that they can fool just about anyone. In fact, police have seen the baby dolls in unattended vehicles and have broken into the cars to “save” the babies. If you see one of these reborn dolls in a store with their “moms,” you might never know it isn’t a real baby.
What are Reborn Dolls?
Actually, several different types of baby dolls are loosely referred to as reborn dolls. I’m not a baby doll collector, but according to what I’ve learned from those who collect baby dolls, the most desirable reborn dolls are those that are created by artists.
Reborning, as the hobby is called, began in the U.S. in the 1990s and has spread to other nations around the world. Artists who specialize in creating the reborn are often called “reborners.”
A reborn baby might have very realistic “skin.” It might feel real to the touch, and practically all reborn babies have skin that looks just like a real baby’s, including visible veins and capillaries. Also, a typical reborn baby has realistic hair, eyelashes, fingernails, toenails, limbs, and facial expressions.
Reborns aren’t generally considered as children’s toys. Instead, most reborn babies are highly prized collectibles, and their prices usually reflect this. On the other hand, some lifelike dolls are well suited for kids, especially older children who understand the care involved.
What are Lifelike Dolls?
There’s a lot of overlap between the terms “reborn doll” and “lifelike doll,” and they’re often used interchangeably. Based on what my doll collector-pal told me, reborn dolls are usually more detailed than are lifelike dolls. Also, each reborn is unique, while lifelike dolls might be mass produced. In either case, however, these aren’t your typical dolls that you’d normally find in department stores and toy stores.
How are Reborn Dolls Made?
Reborn babies, for the most part, aren’t mass produced. Each reborn baby is painstakingly created by an artist who specializes in this unique skill. Several layers of paint are required on the vinyl to make the baby dolls look realistic. For example, real newborns have skin that’s mottled, and the skin on the eyelids and the face might be red or exhibit red patches. A reborn baby reflects these “imperfections.” In many cases, the paint is “baked on” between layers. This makes the finish much more durable, and some reborn dolls can even by wiped off with a damp cloth. Some of the reborn babies have as many as thirty layers of paint.
The hair and eyelashes on a reborn are often put in place individually. This slow and exacting process is usually done with a needle. Some of the baby dolls are weighted to feel just like a newborn baby, too. Most of the time, a drill is used to open the nostrils and ear canals. Once the reborn has been completed to the artist’s satisfaction, the baby doll is dressed in real baby clothing.
Different Types of Reborn Babies
You can find all kinds of reborn dolls: baby boys, baby girls, Caucasians, Asians, African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanic, mixed race, blonds, brunettes, redheads, and baby dolls with no hair at all. You can find sleeping babies with closed eyes, or awake baby dolls with open eyes. Some reborns have heads, arms, and legs of vinyl, with soft filled bodies. Other reborn babies are made completely of vinyl. Different ages are available, too. These include preemies, newborn infants, and older babies.
In the past few years, reborn dolls have become more sophisticated, and consumers have more choices. You can find reborn babies that “breathe,” that have heartbeats, that make realistic sounds, and that actually warm up in order to make them more realistic and “snugglier.”
If you can’t find a reborn baby exactly like you want, you can always pay a reborner to custom make a baby doll for you. Of course, these cost more than the regular reborn dolls, in most cases.
You might want to try your hand at creating a reborn on your own. You can purchase reborn doll kits and all the supplies you'll need by shopping online. Should you discover that you have a talent for reborning, you might be able to earn extra income from selling your reborn babies online, at craft fairs, and through private sales.
How Much Do Reborn Dolls and Lifelike Baby Dolls Cost?
Like most works of art, there’s no set price for reborn dolls. Much depends on the artist’s ability and reputation, along with the quality of the individual doll. As mentioned above, custom-made reborn babies might be significantly more expensive. In general, a quality reborn can cost several hundred dollars to well over a thousand dollars. Lifelike baby dolls, on the other hand, don’t usually cost as much. Of course, much depends on how lifelike you want the baby doll to be.
Why Are Reborn Dolls So Popular?
There are lots of reasons as to the popularity of reborn dolls. Some people just enjoy collecting dolls – period. Some consumers appreciate the beauty and artistic aspect of the baby dolls. For others, the reborn might fulfill some inner emotional need to nurture. Many reborn owners who use the dolls for nurturing bathe the reborn babies, buy them new clothes, and even take them out in public. Sometimes parents who have lost a child might commission a reborn doll to resemble the infant or child that they lost.