Adopting a Reborn Doll – The Good, The Bad and the Ugly!

So you are thinking of buying one of these incredible dolls?

Purchasing a reborn doll is based more on emotion than sense- the heart rules the head. The props and sets used in photos are all designed to take you in this direction. Baby powder, soft toys, lace and fur are all intended to make the doll look (either sleeping soundly or appealing to you with open eyes) so irresistible that you want to pick it up and never put it down.

When you see a reborn doll you love you will feel that you really need to have it. Its image advertising at its best. Just like ‘coke’ equals youth and fun, effective reborn baby photos evokes the same feelings as the best of the Johnson’s baby powder ads- the promise of unconditional love and warm cuddles.

Some people have said that they were so upset when they missed out on a reborn baby on eBay that they had their heart set on, they cried for days.

But I just caution you, if the baby arrives and it isn’t what you expected this also is very disappointing and your wallet will be lighter. So it’s wise to use your head a little before you buy.

Reborns are all over the place and there are a lot on eBay (a real mixed bag- some are really pretty scary). There are many doll forums and one in particular has a section called “She’s selling this?” that celebrates some of the poor reborn doll work that is on the market.

Should price be the best indicator? What about guild membership and prizes? How can you know? So what do you look for and what separates a good doll from a poor one?


Price is not the best indicator- high prices don’t guarantee quality and there are some excellent ones that are reasonably priced. Big prices (of multiple thousands of dollars) are commanded by a handful of reborn artists.


Take care with guilds and memberships- most require no proof of talent or customer service to be authorized for use. Beware the awards – sometimes they are the only one in the competition.

Inspecting the product

I think nothing can beat seeing a doll before you buy it, but this is not often an option as this is truly an electronic and international (border-less industry).

If you can’t see the real thing then photos are the next best thing. But beware photos- there are all sorts of electronic filters and artificial lighting that can make them look better than they are. You should be delighted when your reborn arrives and think that the photos did them no justice at all. Ask an artist about the enhancements and lighting used in their photos.

Then look at the artist’s reputation (and remember that talent as an artist, honesty and customer service can all be mutually exclusive). Guarantees of satisfaction, repair damage policies should be understood and are indicators of good customer service. EBay feedback is indicative of honesty and customer service. Talent is up to you as the judge.

My strong suggestion would be to look at the Internet or join a forum or two and find an artist on there. Beware the lists of reborn nurseries on the site- they are no guarantee of quality or honesty. Most artists will showcase their work and have it in their signatures on forums.

Here are some recommendations for what to look for when looking at dolls in the person or photos:

1. Judge how much the doll actually looks like a baby. A good reborn should be mistaken for a baby.

My daughter has taken her reborns out shopping with us and of course she (is 6 years old) gets sick of carrying them so I end up having to carry them. I am caught in a difficult position. Do I nurse this baby like its real and people will think I am a nut who nurses dolls OR do I just carry her around like she is my daughters doll that I now have to cart around?

Well for a good reborn you have no choice but the first option. I once had to endure the stares of a lot of people in a major shopping centre who glared at me like I was a negligent parent. I have discovered it is not publicly acceptable to pop a baby (and so therefore a reborn doll) in the bottom of a shopping trolley. It’s also not acceptable to hold a baby casually between your elbow and your hand with limbs hanging even if your hand is nicely supporting the head. Also generally people are pretty critical of you (and give you nasty stares) if they think baby should be wrapped up a little warmer.

2. Have a look at the details- hands & feet (have a look at the nail details), ears (how real do they look- can sometimes be limited by the sculpt detail- more expensive sculpts have more detail), eyebrows (should look real) and the creases and folds shouldn’t look like cuts.

3. Artists work hard to get realistic skin tones and this should make the baby look subtly mottled (look for this- it is a sign of quality).

4. The rooting of the mohair. The hair should be shiny and soft and rooted so it is not “clumpy’, at all. The rooting should be directional- that is angled differently to sit nicely all over the head. Some artists do amazing work with their directional rooting with crown/crowns, parts etc. Look for this- it is a sign of quality.

Personal preference

Some people like their dolls to look very real with milk spots, rashes and scratches. If you don’t like these don’t buy a reborn baby with them. Its personal taste. I personally don’t like these. I know they are realistic but when my real babies had rashes I couldn’t wait for them to go away. So I am of the view I wouldn’t want them on a doll permanently.

Some people like sculpts with funny wrinkly faces. Well I say good for them- to each their own. I love pretty babies (although I do see the beauty in the somewhat funny faces newborns make) and try to achieve this mixed with realism in my sculpt choices and painting.

Best of luck in finding a doll that you love.

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