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Fake Babies or Reborn Dolls?

With the advent of fake babies - otherwise known as reborn dolls, there have been many blog posts, news articles and opinions flying around online. The dolls in the center of the controversy are so realistic, that some women are using them not just as collector items, but to fill an emotional void, whether they are unable to bear children, have children who have grown up and moved away, or who have lost a child.

In my experience as a reborn doll artist, the vast majority of my buyers have been doll collectors. Many have gone on to learn the art of reborning for themselves as it really is an incredible experience creating your own life like baby doll. There have been a few though, I believe would fall into the category of treating their dolls as fake babies. This is not to say they believe that the doll is real. It is in how the reborn doll is treated.

realistic reborn dolls

My own grandmother cherished her fake baby that I had made for her. She slept with it and literally took care of it until she passed away. She was so attached that there had been some discussion as to whether she should be buried with her. She like to pretend it was real. She liked to fool people who came to visit in the nursing home. She enjoyed showing off her reborn baby to the nurses and the other residents. Many residents at the home she was in expressed a desire to have fake babies of their own.

I had another client unable to bear children who spent as much time choosing her reborn doll as you would adopting a real child. It had to be perfect in her eyes. The way the child she would never have, might look. Such stories, while sad, are certainly hurting no one if the doll brings them comfort, who is to say that is wrong?

realistic reborn dolls

When you hand a reborn doll to many women, and even some men, including a male reporter that came to interview me, they instinctually rock the baby while holding it. Because of the way the dolls are weighted, they feel real. You need to support their heads, like you would a real infant. I have had buyers tell me that even their teenaged sons held the doll like a real baby. Reborn dolls consistently bring about an emotional response to almost everyone, whether good or bad.

Are fake babies causing damage in some way?

Not unless rocking a baby doll, dressing it and caring for it are damaging behaviors. Even with all the sensationalized press about the women who collect reborn dolls for emotional reason, I have yet to see or read an instance of them believing the doll was real.

Fake babies on TV

Unlike real babies, reborn dolls aren't real! They don't cry, don't require feedings or diapers or naps and do not grow up. They are the perfect addition to movies or TV programs requiring the use of a baby for some scenes. Unless you look closely, if they are well done of course, you would be very hard-pressed to tell the difference. I would expect more and more to be used in upcoming films with the amount of talented artists now creating them.

Fake babies as therapy dolls

Again, I have spoken with many artists who have sold or donated their dolls to nursing homes to be used as therapy babies for the residents. This has gone over very well, so well in fact that in some homes the reborn babies get 'stolen' from one resident to the other. I think there is an innate need to be needed.

realistic reborn dolls

Reborn dolls would seem to have more uses than to just look pretty in a collector's showcase.

Source : http://www.realistic-reborn-dolls.com/fake-babies.html


Serenity Babies

Think about the feeling of holding a sleeping baby and then imagine being able to give that sense of comfort to others. That's exactly what a Minnesota family that specializes in making babies does.

The Lindblooms came a long way to be here -- and the job they do is not easy.

"A serenity baby is a baby that can find the situation that you are in and you need at the time to bring peace into your life," Cindy Lindbloom explained.

Peace comes from calm cuddling of one of the babies born at the Loving Hearts Nursery in St. Joseph, and something magical happens each time one of those babes is brought out into the world.

They are so convincing that they can fool a genuine model -- and his mother. They're so surprisingly realistic that few realize they are actually lifelike dolls.

In fact, the serenity babies are so like the real thing, it's hard to resist the urge to talk to them.

"Hi sweetheart," said Florence, who lives at the Johanna Shores Senior Community in Arden Hills. "Do you see me?"

While Florence knows she is not holding a real baby, that doesn't matter.

"Let's see if you can do a little patty cake," she coos at the babe.

The therapists at the elderly care facility, which bought five serenity babies for the residents to share, say it only takes an instant for the babe to bring out joy.

"The instant you put it in their arms, they are cooing and awing," Nancy said. "It reaches down in them somewhere and it pulls out that feeling of joy."

But that joy gestates slowly. Cindy and Darryl Lindbloom build the dolls in what they call a nursery, not a studio -- even though what they create is art.

"Some people call it a craft," Darryl Lindbloom said. "I think when you take it to this level, it's art."

The man who is more inclined toward engines paints with precision that tickles just to watch as he creates what he calls 3-D interactive art. He starts with the skin tone. After drying in the oven, the detail will come on another day.

Little veins in the skin get blended as layers go over it, and it's so precise that your eyes will swear the doll is a real baby until you touch it.

Even then, the weighted limbs make the dolls move in a lifelike way when they're scooped up. The Lindblooms use fine glass beads inside nylons to create the effect, and each one is unique.

"No two of them are alike," Darryl Lindbloom explained. "It gives each one their own little personality."

Little personalities are something the Lindblooms know a lot about. They had three of their own children and fostered many others. In the 80s, the couple cared for infants of teen mothers until the babes were ready to go to permanent homes.

"You cry when they leave, but you know they are going to a great place," Cindy Lindbloom said. "Just seeing the happiness on the adoption people's faces, that made me happy."

It's a bit like that with the serenity babies too. For some at the Johanna Shores Senior Community, memories don't come so easily any more -- but something about the babies in the memory care unit that revives something special.

"There is a change and they start reminiscing about their babies, about when they were babies, when their siblings were babies," Nancy explained.

Though Roger can't recall whether he combed his hair in the morning, seeing the serenity baby helps him hear sounds from long ago.

"The baby songs my wife used to sing to my five kids come back to my memory," he said. "She made it up, I'm sure."

The therapeutic potential is clearly there.

"For women, it raises our oxytocin, and the oxytocin level is known as the 'happy hormone' or the 'comforting hormone,'" Cindy Lindbloom said.

One woman who had lost a baby was drawn to the dolls, along with a young man.

"The guy got tears in his eyes. He said it's just so touching," Cindy Lindbloom recalled. "He goes, 'Yeah, we can't have any more children.'"

While some see the dolls as collectibles, the Lindblooms really love to see their work delivered to the arms of those who need the feeling only holding a baby can bring.

"It's hard to describe," Darryl Lindbloom said. "I think it's something inside us, just the need to nurture something."

The Lindblooms know that feeling is a very real thing -- even if the baby is not.



Bogus Baby Boom - women who collect lifelike dolls

By Mike Celizic 
TODAY contributor

They’re called “reborns”: incredibly lifelike baby dolls that sell for up to $4,000 to adult women who collect them, change their clothes, and in some ways treat them like real babies.

“It fills a spot in your heart,” Lynn Katsaris told TODAY’s Matt Lauer Wednesday in New York as she cuddled “Benjamin” and “Michael” in her arms. A realtor from suburban Phoenix, Katsaris is also an artist who has created 1,052 reborn dolls and sold them to women around the world. She was one of three grown women visiting the show with five of the the bogus — but eerily realistic — babies cradled tenderly in their arms.

Dolls have been around for thousands of years, but the so-called reborn dolls, which are hand-painted and provided with hair whose strands are individually rooted in their vinyl heads, date back to the early 1990s. Since they first were created in the United States, they have become increasingly popular around the world, selling on dedicated Web sites and on eBay for $500 to $4,000, and even higher.

A documentary on the phenomenon called “My Fake Baby” airs tonight on BBC America

Cuddly ... or creepy?  
Some people find the lifelike dolls downright creepy. But collectors, some of whom treat the dolls as real children, feel there’s nothing unusual about their passionate hobby.

Monica Walsh, a 41-year-old wife and mother of a 2-year-old daughter from Orange County, N.Y., has one doll – “Hayden.” And, yes, she told Lauer, she plays with her doll “the same way a man might make a big train station and play with his train station or play with his sports car, his boat or his motorcycle.”

Fran Sullivan, 62, lives in Florida and has never had children. She brought two reborns to New York, “Robin” and “Nicholas,” and said she has a collection of more than 600 dolls of all kinds, including a number of reborn dolls.

Sullivan told Lauer she rotates her dolls, choosing a new one to care for each day depending on how she feels. She talks to them as she would to an infant, but said it’s really not all that strange.

“Children talk to their dolls, and they express their feelings toward their dolls,” she told Lauer. “And as a 40- or 50- or 60-year-old woman, you do the same thing. You’re still the same person you were when you were an 8-year-old.”

“I have a 2-year-old daughter. I don’t feel that way at all that it replaces her. It’s completely different having a real baby,” Walsh explained. “But I think she’s going to love the fact that I play with dolls. How much fun is it going to be for her?"

Lifelike features 
The vinyl dolls don’t just look exactly like real babies — they also feel real. Their bodies are stuffed and weighted to have the same heft and a similar feel to a live baby. Mohair is normally used for the hair and is rooted in the head strand by strand, a process that can take 30 hours. A magnet may be placed inside the mouth to hold a magnetic pacifier.

To add realism, some purchasers opt for a heartbeat and a device that makes the chest rise and fall to simulate breathing.

The dolls are made individually by home-based artisans like Katsaris, who start with a vinyl form that is either purchased or made by the artisan.

The remarkable degree of realism is achieved by dozens of layers of paint, beginning with tiny veins and mottled skin. Each layer of paint is baked on in an oven to make it permanent.

Dolls may be one of a kind, or one of a limited series made from the same mold. Some customers order special dolls that are exact replicas of their own children who died at birth or in infancy. These are individually made from hand-sculpted clay forms made from photographs of the child.

The customers are almost all women. Some buy them because they collect dolls. Others buy them as surrogates for children that were lost or have grown and left the home. Some women dress the dolls, wash their hair, take them for walks in strollers and take them shopping.

One woman in the BBC documentary, married and in her 40s, said she wanted a real baby, but was too busy to commit to caring for a real one. A reborn doll satisfies her maternal instincts, she said, without all the carrying on and mess.

Reborns, she said, “never grow out of their clothes, never soil them. It's just fabulous. The only difference, of course, is these guys don't move.”

At least one nursing home in the United Kingdom makes dolls available to female residents, who become calmer and less disruptive when “caring” for their infants.

The dolls have led to some misunderstandings. In the United States and other countries, police smashed the windows of a car to rescue “infants” that had been left in booster seats in parked cars.

Walsh is among those who straps hers into an infant’s seat when she takes it out in her car. “They’re expensive and you gotta protect them. They’re valuable.”

She added that she also may put her doll in a stroller when she’s with her daughter – “for fun.”

Katsaris takes hers out in stroller, but for a different reason: to show them off to potential buyers. Sullivan said she doesn’t take her dolls out in public except to transport them to doll shows. But, she added, when she gets a new one, she shows it off.

“I take my dolls across the street every time I get a new one and show them off to my neighbors,” she told Lauer. “I love to hear them say, ‘Oh, that is such a beautiful doll! It’s such a beautiful baby!’ ”

Sullivan said she, too, talks to her dolls, but she does not carry on conversations with them.

Walsh said her husband doesn’t think it strange that his wife plays with dolls. “He likes them too,” she said. “He says when he holds the baby it makes him feel good. It reminds him of the day his daughter was born. Everybody likes to hold a baby. It makes you feel at peace. It makes you feel calm.”

None of the women apologized for their love of reborn dolls or felt they were doing anything that is unhealthy.

“I don’t really worry too much about what people think about me,” Walsh said. “I just try to make myself happy, and it makes me happy to collect dolls. I feel like a little girl that just never stopped loving dolls.”



Looking for cheap reborn dolls?

I see people looking online a lot for cheap reborn dolls. Wanting to find that perfect reborn baby, but not willing to pay the big bucks that they go for on ebay. Many times people will assume that it will be easier and cheaper for them just to make their own reborn baby.

In fact, that is how many reborn artists get started in the first place. Some of the dolls on ebay do sell for thousands of dollars, but not the majority. Ebay is a venue that allows for this but the majority of quality reborn dolls sell for anywhere from $300 to $800 on average.

However - I'd like to give you an idea of what is costs to get starting reborning a doll. Not to dissuade those of you who would like to learn the art - rather to give the respect for the art and the artists and an indication of just what it costs to make a reborn doll. If you are a doll collector, then this can give you a general idea of the cost involved for the reborn artist. This is a list of what I have on hand at all times -

Basic Reborning Supplies

  • Basic Doll - usually a Berenguer - $20 - $70 or
  • Doll Kit - $50 to $110 plus the cost of shipping and the exchange rate as doll kits are only available in certain places and a lot of times we are shipping from other countries and overseas.
  • Mohair - $25 -$50 an ounce - can go up to $100 an ounce - depending on your skills with microrooting you may use all of it on one doll!
  • Wig ( if you are not rooting) $15
  • Felting needles $10-$15 - you'll break a lot of these at first.
  • Artist brushes - around $35 to start with a basic set but you'll need to add brushes as you go along
  • Sponges - $2 - $5
  • Ceramic Paint Palette(s) $5 - $20
  • Genesis Heat Set Paints - $8 -$12 each color - you'll need at least 8 to get started and will add to your collection over time.
  • Paint thinner or thinning gel - $5-$15
  • Doe Suede body $15
  • Glass beads or polypellets for weighting - $5-$10
  • Polyfill for stuffing - $5
  • Clothing/Diaper/Pacifier/Barrette/Blanket - $25-$100
  • Magnets $5.00
  • Eyelashes $5.00
  • Eyes - $7 - $35 a pair ( glass) !
  • Glue - you'll need a few different ones - $15

Grand Total amount?? On the very conservative side - around $300.00

Now this does not take into consideration that you will need a good digital camera, heat gun, photo tent, classes or books to learn the art, props for the photo shoot, magazines and tutorials and most importantly - the vast amount of TIME that is takes you ! The dolls frequently sold on ebay only cover the materials that were used to create the dolls in the first place- and not the artists time.

So is there such thing as cheap reborn dolls? NO. There isn't. Cheaply made perhaps but each doll is a work of art, an investment of time, love, patience, and skill on the part of the individual artist. You cannot buy a cheap reborn doll. Many artists out there are barely covering the cost to continue to make dolls.

So please, if you are a collector, respect the amount of money and time that goes into each creation , and if you are a beginner reborn artist - know going in that this is a very expensive hobby. Each kit alone can be over $100 and if you make a mistake - you may need to start all over. So consider the costs before you begin. Too many people see the dolls going for big bucks on ebay and think they can just slap together a reborn baby and walk away wealthy - it's just not going to happen.

The reborn artists who sell for top dollar are incredibly talented and have been reborning for years. Skills like that don't develop overnight - but they do develop, so if your heart is really into learning the art - then go for it! Just know what you're getting into - it can be very addicting! And please don't expect to be able to profit off of cheap reborn dolls.


Art of Reborning

The hobby of creating reborn baby dolls began around 1990 when doll enthusiasts wanted more realistic dolls. Since then, an industry surrounding reborn dolls has emerged.

Reborning involves numerous time consuming steps. The most basic form of the process involves taking a vinyl doll, adding multiple layers of paint, and adding other physical features to the doll.

Some consumers of reborn dolls use them to replace a child they once lost, or a child that has grown up. Others collect reborns as they would a regular doll. These dolls are usually taken seriously and are cared for like an infant.


  [Photos of the Emmaline by Donna Lee]


The technique of reborning a play doll typically involves a number of steps. The outer layer of the vinyl doll is given its skin tone by adding dozens of layers of flesh coloured paint. If heat set paints are used, the doll parts must be heat set by baking them inside an oven or by using a heatgun after each layer of paint is applied. Lighter skin tone dolls can take fifteen to thirty layers. The effects of the blue colour wash combined with the outside layers of paint creates the appearance of veins, and gives the doll its newborn mottled look. Manicured nails and opening of the nose holes are other details that are added during this process. The next step is to apply hair. The hair can either be done in one of two ways; wigging or micro rooting. When micro rooting, hair is added strand by strand. This can take up to thirty or more hours per head. Once the hair is finished, the original vinyl body is weighted with a soft stuffed body filled with pellets. The weight corresponds with its age to achieve a real effect. Various additions also can be added to give the doll an even more lifelike appearance. Reborns heads are often weighted, so that owners have to support the head like one would a real newborn. Purchasers can have magnets attached inside the mouth or head for attaching a pacifier or hair bows.



There is a large price range depending on the quality of the doll, but they can sell anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars. There are many factors to look for when purchasing a reborn. If the complexion is too dark this is called a blue baby, and indicates it was dyed excessively or uses coloured sand for weight that could seeped into the vinyl. The type of material used to weight the reborn should be considered because some materials do not react well with vinyl and will cause it to deteriorate. The doll should not be shiny. This indicates the doll was washed with acetone before painting, which prevents the colour from correctly sticking to the doll's surface. It may also be caused by the type of paint used to colour the doll. This is corrected with a heat set matte varnish. The parts used are important, as original parts may be replaced. The replacement parts must be appropriately proportioned with the doll and made of quality material. At times having the original body retains the doll's value either because it was made fit that specific doll, or the artist left a signature mark. Eye brand, size, fitting, and alignment should be closely examined. Another feature to observe is the type of paint used for coloring and whether the doll is realistic in its details such as veins and newborn imperfections. The material and technique used in applying the hair may determine the quality. The nose should be open with the holes correctly shaped, and the nails should be properly manicured.


Almost all reborn customers are women, particularly older women. Women collect reborns as they would a non-reborn doll, whilst others purchase them to fill a void of a lost child and may treat reborns as living babies. Although the majority of reborn owners are doll collectors, some have gone through miscarriages, have no means for adoption, or suffer from empty nest syndrome. They may utilize the dolls as substitute children, or forever babies who will never grow. Some women dress the dolls, wash their hair, and may even take them for walks in strollers and take them shopping. Reborn hobbyists refer to the emotional response to holding their dolls as cuddle therapy. Studies suggest cuddling a baby causes a release of hormones which produce a sense of emotional well-being, and some psychologists believe that this may happen with realistic dolls as well. Consultant psychiatrist, Professor Raj Persuad explains mothering a real newborn baby releases the hormone Oxytocin in the mother, and hypothesizes that this may explain why reborn mothers become emotionally attached to the reborn doll. The process of buying a reborn is intended to simulate an adoption process, rather than a prosaic sale of a product. As part of this, the dolls often come with fake birth certificates or adoption certificates.

Media Attention

In July 2008, police in Queensland, Australia smashed a car window to rescue what seemed like an unconscious baby only to find it was a reborn doll. The police stated that the doll was "incredibly lifelike" and that bystanders who thought a baby was dying were frightened by the incident. A similar incident was reported in the United States, in which police broke the window of Hummer to save a baby that turned out to be a reborn. Reborners uncovered a blogging hoax in which an anti-abortionist named Becca Beushausen claimed she was pregnant with a terminally ill child. She opened a P.O. box in order to receive gifts, money, and prayers.The hoax was uncovered when reborn readers of the blog realized that the pictures of the baby posted on the blog were actually a reborn that they recognized through the familiar reborn sculpt. 

Reborn dolls have been featured in a number of television shows. A December 10, 2008 episode of Dr. Phil entitled "Obsessions" discussed the topic of reborning. In January 2008, a Channel 4 series, My Fake Baby, explored the lives of women who collect the lifelike baby dolls. Featuring this documentary the British television magazine show on Channel 4, Richard and Judy, held an interview with the reborn artist in the documentary Janie Eaton, a collector Mary Flint, and psychiatrist Raj Persuad. On January 2, 2009 an ABC News article described both the manufacturing and the emotional interaction of reborn dolls., while a January 2, 20/20 episode talked about the mothering process and attachment to reborns. On January 31, 2008 Inside Edition aired a segment showing artist Eve Newsom and her reborn dolls.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reborn_doll