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When my little boy was born two years ago my daughter showed an interest in having a baby doll of her own. She was very definite that it must be a 'proper' boy doll though and I set off to search Amazon for a doll with the correct appendages for her. The Early Moments range is a series of four dolls, two girls and two boys, which are realistic, anatomically correct and come in two ethnicities. Average price is about £8.99 (amazon.co.uk) and the doll arrives naked in a clear plastic bag. It is recommended from 10 months.
The doll is 40 centimetres long which is slightly shorter than the average newborn. In every other way though attempts have been made to make it as baby like as possible, from the splayed fingers to the little curled in feet with creases on the soles. It is light (566g) but also strong and sturdy. Legs, arms and head are easy attachable should they be pulled out, but this has only happened to the poor doll once so far. The -ahem- appendage is carefully moulded on and is both realistic and secure, there is no chance of breaking it off and causing lifelong trauma. The doll can sit up if you want it too, but it is a little unstable unless you push its head further forward than looks comfortable. His body is narrower than other dolls we own and his arms don't spread out as wide, so when he is being cuddled it does look more awkward, but my children don't seem to mind. The face is moulded plastic and is quite appealing, I don't have to turn his face to the floor or wall when I'm left on my own with him - some of the dolls we own look like they need a good exorcism and I am sure their eyes follow me around the room.
We got the white boy doll for DD and she loved it for six months before abandoning to play with the real baby when he got more interesting. My son then took up parentage of the doll, now called WillyBaby. WillyBaby is brought into us in the morning and his clothes have to be removed and his nappy changed. His clothes are hand-me-downs from my own children which they love. First size (9lbs ish) body suits and sleepsuits are a little big, preemie or tiny baby would be a better fit, but we have found it easier for my son to dress and undress his baby if the clothes have a little extra fabric. Plus my children were 8lb 4oz and 9lb 6 oz so I'd have to buy the tiny clothes, which I am reluctant to do. Pampers newborn nappies are a little big, but do the trick, I can't comment on WillyBaby's personal preference though!
WillyBaby then has to be hugged and kissed, which is always a little hazardous as the splayed fingers mean that he is more likely that some of my son's other dolls to poke us in the eyes. Then he is dragged all around the house or goes out for a trip in the pushchair whilst my son gives him snotty and wet kisses. Luckily WillyBaby is safe to be put in the bath and goes in most nights to be cleaned up. His mouth is moulded to be slightly open so when fed bits do seem to collect in there, but it doesn't have a dummy or bottle hole like some other dolls. It doesn't stop my son from feeding the baby with a dolls bottle though, there is enough of a ledge to keep it in there. A cotton bud is sometimes required to clean out the corners of the mouth or the ear recess if my son is feeling particularly generous with his meal or snack.
I prefer a soft bodied doll as a first doll for a child, but this makes a brilliant present for a child who wants a more realistic baby, or for a child who is about to become a big brother or sister. My little boy is learning all about caring for a baby, being kind and thinking of other's needs and wishes. The doll is very sturdy and had been stepped on and dropped repeatedly with no negative consequences. It is slightly 'pointier' than other dolls I have been forced to hold, with its little fingers and toes but so far the only injuries have been to us, rather than the children. And of course his little appendage is a great topic of conversation amongst all our little visitors to the house.