Toddler pretending to feed a baby doll

Around the time your toddler is 1 or 2, you may be ready to pick out his or her first baby doll. Engaging in pretend play with baby dolls helps toddlers develop social skills and empathy, as well as communicate emotions. In addition, there are numerous benefits to choosing open-ended toys, such as baby dolls, for your child’s toy box.

When choosing your toddler’s first baby doll, consider looking for the following:

  • Small size (10-15 inches) so that your toddler can easily hold and carry the doll
  • Soft body for your toddler to cuddle
  • Relatively inexpensive, since toddlers can be rough on their toys
  • No small parts that could come loose, get lost, or pose a choking hazard
  • Made of safe material
  • Easily washable
  • Options for baby dolls that have a diversity of skin colors or genders, either so that your toddler can identify with the doll or to include diversity in your toddler’s doll collection

12 Top Baby Dolls for Toddlers

The following 12 options would make excellent choices for your toddler’s first baby doll. Each hits many, if not all, of the bullet points listed above. Below each doll, I have noted whether the doll is available in a variety of skin tones and/or in a boy version.

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1. Manhattan Toy Baby Stella

Manhattan Toy’s Baby Stella dolls make perfect first dolls for toddlers. Their full bodies are soft and cuddly, and they come with magnetic pacifiers. At 15 inches, they are an ideal size for 1-year-olds and older. I gave my eldest daughter a Baby Stella for her first birthday. Ten years later, she is still attached to her Stella!

Diverse Baby Doll Options:

Note: Manhattan Toy also offers a smaller (12-inch), less expensive Wee Baby Stella doll that would be a wonderful alternative to the full-sized version.

2. Learn to Dress Doll

The Playskool Dressy Friends doll is not only a soft friend, but a learning tool for little ones ages 2 and up. Her clothing offers an abundance of buckles, buttons, zippers, and shoelaces that toddlers can practice manipulating.

Diverse Baby Doll Options:

3. Baby Starter

Plush Baby Starter dolls are 10-inches tiny and machine-washable, making them ideal first dolls for infants and toddlers. Features such as eyes and nose are embroidered, making them extra safe.

Diverse Baby Doll Options:

  • Baby Starters are available in a range of skin tones and hair colors.
  • Although I did not find a boy Baby Starter doll, this boy doll is similar in style.

4. Bedtime JJ from Cocomelon

Does your toddler like Cocomelon? If so, this Bedtime JJ doll may be the right first baby doll for you. Although JJ’s head is solid, his body is soft and huggable. JJ plays songs and says phrases from Cocomelon episodes. This doll is rated for ages 18 months and older.

Diverse Baby Doll Option:

As an alternative to JJ, check out the “My Friend Cody” doll from Cocomelon. Cody has dark hair and dark skin, and he plays phrases and sings clips from the Cocomelon song, “Cody’s Dinosaur Day.” Cody is rated for ages 2 and up.

5. HABA Baby Dolls for Toddlers

HABA offers a wide variety of precious, soft baby dolls for toddlers. Choose the perfect size, features, and clothing style for your unique toddler. HABA dolls are machine washable!

Diverse Baby Doll Options:

6. Melissa and Doug Baby Doll

The popular children’s toy brand Melissa and Doug offers a realistic baby doll for toddlers 18 months and up. The soft-bodied 12-inch Mine to Love dolls come with a pacifier, can sit up on their own, and have eyes that close when they lie down.

Diverse Baby Doll Options:

  • Melissa and Doug Mine to Love dolls come in a variety of skin tones: Gabrielle has dark skin and dark eyes, Marianna has light brown skin and brown eyes, and Jenna has light skin and blue eyes.
  • There is a boy version of the Melissa and Doug Mine to Love doll named Jordan.

7. Playtime by Eimmie Rag Dolls

Darling 14-inch Playtime by Eimmie rag dolls feature plush bodies and hair made of soft yarn. Their embroidered facial features make them extra-safe for young toddlers, and they each come wearing a unique, detailed outfit.

Diverse Baby Doll Options:

8. Corolle Baby Dolls for Toddlers

Corolle has a long tradition of producing high-quality baby dolls. The bean-filled 12-inch Bébé Calin dolls make lovely first baby dolls for toddlers 18 months and older. The dolls have realistic faces and eyes that close. You can also buy them different outfits. Note (in case of allergies or sensory concerns) they are scented like vanilla.

Diverse Baby Doll Options:

9. Basket of Babies

With the basket of babies, your toddler will have six little baby dolls to love. Each 10-inch wears a sleeping bag with a different color or pattern, and the set comes with a soft basket for storage or transportation.

Diverse Baby Dolls:

The basket of babies features a variety of skin tones and could be considered gender-neutral.

10. Personalized Baby Doll for Toddlers

Make your toddler’s first baby doll even more special by personalizing it. Dibsies 15-inch personalized dolls are soft with embroidered features and colorful outfits. Add your toddler’s name (up to nine characters) to her dress at no extra charge.

Diverse Baby Doll Options:

11. Adora Realistic Baby Doll

Adora realistic baby dolls are only 11 inches, making them a great size for little hands. They are soft to the touch and fully machine-washable (air dry), and your toddler can put the baby’s included bottle or pacifier into the doll’s mouth.

Diverse Baby Doll Options:

12. Twin Baby Dolls

If you have twin toddlers, or a toddler who would like twin dolls, these New York Doll Collection 12-inch dolls make a great choice. They come dressed in removable, machine-washable outfits and have soft bodies. The mouths can accept the included pacifiers or the dolls’ thumbs.

Diverse Baby Doll Options:

  • These twin baby dolls come in white, light brown, and dark brown skin tones.
  • Each set of twins includes a boy and a girl.

Baby Doll Accessories for Toddlers

In addition to the doll, your toddler might like to have some accessories to assist with pretend play time. Here are some ideas:

  • A high chair where your toddler can pretend to feed the baby doll
  • A stroller that doesn’t tip or roll too far forward when a toddler pushes it
  • Bottles with disappearing milk
  • Baby doll cradle for pretend naptime or storing baby dolls when playtime is over
  • A diaper bag to transport all the baby doll’s essentials

Hopefully, this list will help you select the perfect first baby doll for your toddler!

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