Reborn dolls may be collecting items for many adults due to their realistic looks and details, but they definitely have become popular among children as well. Every week, MacroBaby receives more and more children from all over the world to its Dolls Maternity, looking to go through the “adoption” experience and take home their own lifelike baby doll. And even though reborn dolls are also beloved by adults and seniors, it’s the kids who make the maternity a huge hit at Macrobaby. Coming from Brazil, the UK, Iceland and other European countries, they get fascinated by the diversity of dolls they find, not to mention the emotion of adopting their own baby. “It feels like the reborn dolls are the icing on the cake when it comes to dolls”, says Sally Correa, one of the “nurses” in the Maternity.
The love children have for dolls is actually encouraged by specialists, educators and psychologists, since playing with them brings only benefits for the little ones, as they are able to use their imagination to explore and practice nurturing behaviors. They project people onto the dolls in a way that can help them resolve real-life conflicts, and promote self-expression and critical thinking. “Having a doll that a child relates to can provide an outlet for that child to explore challenges in their own lives in a safe, non-threatening way,” says Dr. Amanda Gummer, founder of Good Play Guide, who also indicates that dolls have several roles in a child’s life. When it comes to reborn dolls specifically, parents also find them helpful to ease a child’s transition into an older sibling when the family is growing. “Children do copy their parent’s behavior, so a realistic doll is appealing. It can help the older child feel involved,” explains Gummer.
The experience the youngsters have when going to the Dolls Maternity was carefully developed to engage with their imagination and creativity. They will first choose their baby doll, then measure and weight it, name it and then get an adoption certificate; every little detail of this “role-play” process with a nurse is thought to get the child involved and to imitate the feeling of a real adoption, so they feel responsible for that baby. And it works very well. “It’s a magical moment for the children. Some of them say it was their dream to be here and adopt their reborn doll. Some who cannot afford it ask if they can at least hold the dolls and take pictures. That’s how much they love them”, notes Correa, who’s been working at the maternity since it opened in 2018.
Many accessories for the reborn dolls are available as well, so the kids can choose their favorite and play with them as if they were a real baby; carriers, strollers, playards, clothes, pacifiers, hairbrushes and detailing hair sprays are just a few examples. With all this stuff, both boys and girls have a lot of options to play with their reborn dolls, like Manuela Miranda, 11 years old, who had her first reborn doll when she was only 5. She now has 3 dolls that she treats like her own kids. “I love reborn dolls because they look a lot like babies, and I love babies. Also, I’ve always wanted to have a little sister or brother. So I dress them, comb their hair, feed them,” she tells, adding up that she takes the dolls anywhere she goes. “I’ve taken them to the beach and to see Santa”. Her mother Renata Miranda emphasizes that it’s all very childish and playful, and she loves seeing how caring Manuela is with her reborn dolls.
Made exclusively by talented artists, reborn dolls are often seen not as toys, but as collector’s items for adults, especially because they weight the same as a real baby and are delicately made to be used with care. For this reason, Dr. Gummer suggests only older children should play with them. “For very young children (under 3) a life-size doll may be too large for the child to hold and cuddle. Ultra-realistic dolls are more valuable for older children and teenagers to use when learning about real childcare,” she observes, pointing out that she would like if there were more research about this. “It would be interesting to see if there’s any research to show that children play differently if the doll is more realistic.”
Despite what collectors say or think, each day more curious and fascinated families go to MacroBaby and stop by the Dolls Maternity looking for them, including popular celebrities. “It’s more than simply buying a doll, it’s realizing a dream for these children,” concludes Correa.