image of the American Girl Doll - Maryellen Doll with reading book

Best Baby Dolls by Age Category

by April Driver |

Dolls remain a favorite and popular toy. After all, baby dolls and little girls just seem to go together like PB&J.

The market has a vast array of dolls available for all age groups. We’ve selected the best baby doll choices based on  the following age catergory break downs:

  • Ages 2, 3, and 4
  • Ages 5, 6, and 7
  • Ages 8, 9, 10 and Up

Up Front- Our Favorite Doll Brands

For each age category, American Girl wins out for the best doll. American Girl does an amazing job of creating products that are age appropriate, quality and have a variety of fun accessories. While the price point is higher than some other brands, American Girl offers well-thought out and diverse toys that are designed to empower our children through play.

Of all the dolls I have purchased over the years, American Girl offers the most interactive experience for children. The shows, movies, books, accessories and in-store experiences all make this line the top choice of doll for all ages.

Bitty Baby is the top choice for ages two, three, and four. Actually, Bitty Baby is a good choice for baby dolls for 1 year olds and will remain a favorite toy through age eight! The Bitty Baby line offers many accessories and outfits. Although they must be purchased separately, American Girl offers a sweet line of Bitty Baby themed books that are perfect for reading aloud to your children.

Image of the American Girl - Bitty Baby Doll Light Skin Blond Hair Blue Eyes BB3 with Pink Bodysuit

For ages five, six, and seven, American Girl has the new Wellie Wisher doll line. The Wellie Wishers come in five different 16 inch dolls. The accompanying books and Amazon Prime show are also appropriate for the five, six, and seven age range. This line of sweet friends is sure to delight your girl.

Image of the American Girl WellieWishers Emerson Doll

For children ages eight, nine, ten, and up, the traditional 18 inch American Girl doll is the best on the market. The dolls are racially and ethnically diverse. Dolls range from modern to historic in theme and each comes with a chapter book.

Image of the American Girl Maryellen Doll and Book

If you are looking for the best doll brand on the market, American Girl is the choice- there’s a reason it’s the most popular doll. Below, I offer a list of runner-ups for each age group. The doll market has something for everyone at every price range.

Best Baby Dolls for Ages 2, 3, and 4 Years Old

American Girl Bitty Baby

As I said above, Bitty Baby is the best doll for young children. Bitty Baby comes in six different varieties that offer different hair color, skin tone and eye color. Bitty baby is a sweet doll that will offer countless years of imaginative play. She’s my favorite soft baby doll.

Bitty Baby is the perfect choice for the child that is ready to begin creative play. As your child’s dexterity and imagination grows, you can add clothes and accessories to accompany Bitty Baby. What I love most about American Girl is the accompanying books that support each doll.

Image of the American Girl - Bitty Baby Doll + Special Starter Collection - Light Skin, Brown Hair, Brown Eyes.

Rubens Barn Baby

I love Rubens Barn dolls! This was actually the closest runner-up to Bitty Baby for me. This Swedish creation offers dark and light skinned, anatomically correct dolls. This line also has boy and girl dolls.

The Ruben dolls are plush and huggable. The line also has a variety of outfits and plush accessories add to the imaginative play experience.

Image of the Rubens Barn Rubens Kids Doll, Jonathan

So Truly Mine Baby Doll

I love the lifelike So Truly Mine Baby Doll. This doll is one of the most realistic dolls available for play by younger children. The doll is designed to feel and weigh like a real baby.

This doll is perfect if you are looking for a truly special gift for the young child in your life. I also love that this doll comes in racially and gender diverse options. This is a great choice if you have a young boy that wants a male version of a baby doll.

Image of the So Truly Mine Baby Doll: Black Hair, Brown Eyes, African-American With Pink Outfit by The Ashton-Drake Galleries

Manhattan Toy’s Baby Stella

My daughter fell in love with Baby Stella. This was the doll she had prior to her Bitty Baby. Baby Stella is the perfect first doll option and one of the best dolls for 1 year olds. She is soft, cute and comes with a magnetic pacifier.

I also love that even though Baby Stella is a plush doll, she still comes with a variety of fun outfits and accessories. There is even a Baby Stella potty training book! If you are looking for the best first baby doll, Baby Stella is the choice.

Image of the Manhattan Toy Wee Baby Stella Beige Sleepy Times Scent 12

Cabbage Patch Little Swaddlers

We can not talk about baby dolls without mentioning Cabbage Patch. I am from the generation where our 1980’s parents were fighting over Cabbage Patch dolls to make Christmas dreams come true. Cabbage Patch offers a cute line of Cabbage Patch Little Swaddlers that are perfect for young children.

My daughter got this style Cabbage Patch for her first birthday and it became her special sleeping doll lovingly named Baby. This doll has been washed in the washing machine and traveled with us all over the country, and is still in great condition. You cannot go wrong with the Cabbage Patch brand.

Image of the RARE LIMITED EDITION 2016 Cabbage Patch Kids Lil' Swaddlers Style #3

Mon Doudou Floral Bloom

Corolle offers a large selection of dolls for all ages. I like the Mon Doudou Floral Bloom line for young children. The dolls are 10 to 11 inches and have soft, huggable bodies. The dolls are machine washable on gentle which makes these the perfect sleeping companion.

Image of the Corolle mon doudou Miss Floral Bloom

Best Baby Dolls for Ages 5, 6, and 7 Years Old

American Girl Wellie Wishers

Wellie Wishers is American Girl’s newest doll line. The line was released in 2016 along with an Amazon Prime animated show and easy read chapter books. My daughter fell in love immediately with the Wellie Wishers.

The Wellie Wishers are five racially diverse friends that are geared specifically for girls ages five, six, and seven. The 16-inch dolls have a large selection of accessories and outfits including matching outfits for your child. As with other American Girl products, the Wellie Wishers are great quality, cute and fun to play with.

Image of the American Girl WellieWishers Willa Doll

Baby Alive Sweet Spoonfuls

Baby Alive does a great job creating fun, interactive dolls. However, what I love most about Baby Alive is the diversity offered. The Baby Alive dolls come in a dark and light skin tones and both male and female dolls.

The manufacturer states the Sweet Spoonfuls doll is appropriate starting at age three. However, as a mom, I think this doll would be frustrating for younger children. Baby Alive’s Sweet Spoonfuls allows children to feed the doll and watch as the doll poops and pees. This is a top choice for birthday gifts for my children’s friends because of the budget-friendly price and diverse options.

Image of the Baby Alive Sweet Spoonfuls Baby Doll Boy (AA)

Paradise Galleries Lifelike Realistic Dolls

Paradise Galleries is the perfect choice for the child that wants a lifelike doll. Paradise Galleries FlexTouch technology gives the doll’s hands and feet a lifelike feel. The doll’s skin is created with silicone-like vinyl to offer the most realistic play experience.

This line of dolls also meets the diversity standards with a wide range of racial options. The line also offers several choices for male dolls. If you are looking for a realistic look and feel for your doll, Paradise Galleries is the best option.

Image of the Paradise Galleries Lifelike Realistic Baby Doll, Tall Dreams Gift Set Ensemble, 19-inch Weighted Baby, for Ages 3+

Cabbage Patch Kids

Again, Cabbage Patch is a top creator of fun and creative dolls. The 14 inch Cabbage Patch Kids dolls are perfect for the five, six, and seven age range. These dolls are more budget-friendly than some of the other brands but offer just as much playing fun.

Cabbage Patch doesn’t offer many fancy features, but these dolls do invite hours of imaginative play. Another fun feature of the Cabbage Patch brand is the adoption certificate. Each doll comes with a recommended name, or your child can select their own special name for the doll.

Image of the Cabbage Patch Kids 14

Luvabella Responsive Doll by Spin Master

Spin Master’s Luvabella Responsive Doll is truly unique. The doll is interactive and can learn over 100 words as your child plays. This dolls eyes, mouth and arms move as you play to create a lifelike experience for your child.

The Luvabella doll comes with accessories made specifically for interaction like a pacifier, bottle and spoon that the doll will actually simulate sucking and eating. If you have a child that wants an interactive doll, Luvabella may be a fun option.

Image of the LUVABELLA - Brunette Hair - Responsive Baby Doll with Realistic Expressions and Movement

Corolle Les Classiques Chouquette

This Corolle line of dolls is a step up from the plush Flora Bloom. The Corolle Les Classiques Chouquette line offers dolls with lifelike hair that can be brushed and styled. This doll is not a baby and gives children an experience playing with a doll designed to represent a child closer to their age.

Corolle dolls are designed and crafted in France and are great quality. The dolls are created to look like actual children. This doll is perfect for the five, six, and seven age range because it offers dexterity that still makes dressing the doll easy for learning fingers.

Image of the Corolle Les Classiques Chouquette Brunette Baby Doll

Best Baby Dolls for Ages Eight, Nine, and 10 Years Old and Up

American Girl Doll

Once again, American Girl is the best doll. The original 18 inch doll is perfect for children eight years and older. These dolls are designed to be the age of the child playing with them. When your child no longer wants to play baby but instead wants a doll that is like a friend, American Girl is your best bet.

Each doll comes with a unique story told in accompanying chapter books. The BeForever line offers historical dolls from different times throughout history. The newest doll is Luciana Vega, an astronaut, that my daughter has on her wishlist.

Image of the American Girl Julie Doll & Paperback Book

Lottie Dolls

Lottie Dolls are designed in Ireland with the mission to let children be themselves and offer a realistic body image. As a mom, I love that message. Lottie dolls are an alternative to Barbie and are only seven inches tall. If like me, you struggle with what Barbie represents, I encourage you to check out the Lottie brand.

The Lottie dolls come in many different cool varieties including an artist, hunter, and star gazer. This line also has a vast line of accessories to offer hours of play.

Image of the Doll by LOTTIE LT070 Always Artsy | Dolls - Accessories - Toy Sets - Collectible | Inspired by real kids! 7 Inch 18 cm Doll With Short Brown Hair And Brown Eyes

Adora Toddler Baby

For the girl inching closer to the tween years that still loves to play with babies, the Adora Toddler Baby is a great choice. This 20-inch doll is recommended for ages six and up, but I think this is a doll more appropriate for an older child.

The doll is weighted, has realistic hair and vinyl skin designed to be lifelike. I think this would be a great choice for an older child that is expecting a new sibling. The lifelike experience will offer hours of imaginative mommy play.

Image of the Adora Toddler Happy Birthday Baby 20

Cabbage Patch Kids Vintage

Once again, I am recommending Cabbage Patch Kids. Like American Girl, Cabbage Patch knows how to make dolls that children love. For your older child, a Cabbage Patch Kids Vintage doll is perfect. These are the dolls we had as children.

The vintage Cabbage Patch Kids have yarn hair. You can even pull out your old doll to add to your child’s collection. This doll is one that your older child can have as a collectible item for years to come. She may even share it with her daughter.

Image of the Cabbage Patch Kids Vintage Retro Style Yarn Hair Doll - Original Blonde Hair/Blue Eyes, 16

Glitter Girls by Battat

Glitter Girls are 14 inch dolls that invite role-playing experiences. This is another alternative to Barbie and a good transition doll for older girls. The dolls look like tween-aged girls. While I would prefer they offer more racially diverse options, they do offer one dark skinned doll.

The Glitter Girls have a variety of outfits and accessories available for purchase. I love the realistic body image and empowering themes offered with this product line.

Image of the Glitter Girls by Battat – Elula 14 inch Fashion Doll - Dolls for Girls Age 3 and Up - Doll, Clothing and Accessories - Children’s Toys

Madame Alexandar 18 Inch Doll

Madame Alexandar is known for their collectable dolls. These are a great option for families that have a tradition of collecting dolls. However, Madame Alexandar also offers a line of 18-inch play dolls. If you love the Madame Alexandar brand, this is a great alternative to the higher priced American Girl dolls.

Image of the Madame Alexander, 18

How to Select the Best Doll

Choosing the right doll for your child should be fun. I love that my daughter enjoys playing with dolls. Her top choice is by far all of the offerings from American Girl. However, she also loves her Baby Alive dolls and Cabbage Patch Kids.

When choosing a doll consider the following criteria to select the perfect option for your child.

Budget

The biggest decision you will need to make is your budget. If budget is not a deterrent then choose the best doll in your price range. The great news is that you can find fun, quality dolls in almost any price range.

I find that I spend more money when I buy a doll for my child for a holiday. However, when I am buying a present for my children’s friends, I often select a more appropriately priced option like Baby Alive. Do your research to make sure that whatever you choose is worth the money invested.

Image of the Baby Alive Super Snacks Snackin' Lily (Brunette)

Diversity

I believe diversity is important. When we spend money on brands that offer diverse dolls, and when we purchase those dolls ourselves, manufacturers understand the importance of offering more diverse products.

When selecting a doll, research what racial, ethnic and gender dolls are available. My favorite brands for their diverse representation are Rubens Barns, Baby Alive and American Girl.

Image of the Rubens Barn Baby Dolls Collection, Nils

Quality

As with most things, you get what you pay for. I have found that the American Girl brand holds up well. Also, the American Girl stores offer their doll hospital to repair damage to the dolls. This extends the life of the doll.

Avoid low price discount dolls. Often these are not made with quality materials and will not last. Nothing is more disappointing than seeing your child fall in love with a doll and then the doll falling apart. I recommend investing in better quality toys. Personally, I’d rather my children have fewer toys that are of better quality.

Image of the American Girl - Bitty Baby Doll Light Skin Dark Brown Hair Brown Eyes BB2 with Pink Bodysuit

Available Accessories

The accessories are what makes toys the most fun. Before you purchase a doll, research what accessories are available. You want to be able to buy a quality doll and then add on with accessories. I love the American Girl brand for this reason.

I also think for the younger children Manhattan Toy’s Baby Stella is a great choice because of the accessories. Personally, I am not a fan of Barbie but for your older child, there are many alternatives that now offer a great selection of fun accessories.

Image of the Manhattan Toy Baby Stella Soft Bath Baby Doll Accessories Set for 15

Conclusion

Dolls are a great toy to invite imaginative play. Now more than ever, the market offers a vast selection of dolls for every age group at every price range.

I recommend the American Girl brand for every age group. Bitty Baby, Wellie Wishers, and the BeFovever line are creative, diverse and great quality.

Image of the American Girl - Gabriela McBride - Gabriela Doll & Book - American Girl of 2017

April Driver
April Driver is a wife and mother of two school-aged children. She is a professional copywriter and content marketer. She loves using her writing skills and experience as a mom to provide helpful information to others. She enjoys lazy days with her family, reading, and exploring the beautiful Colorado outdoors.

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