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The Best Dolls for Babies and Toddlers

Nurturing toys for the win.

The best baby dolls for toddlers teach them a slew of life skills that will serve them well as they get older. Playing with dolls engages kids in pretend play, encourages problem-solving, (when a baby is hungry, she needs to be fed) and helps them learn how to care for others. Baby dolls for toddlers can help them make sense of the world around them as they use dolls to mimic the same things they see adults doing, like getting dressed or sitting down to dinner. 

There’s also therapeutic value to doll play. The American Psychological Association says that when kids get angry, using dolls or stuffed animals can help parents talk to their children about their feelings and the situation that caused them to react a certain way. Not to mention playing with baby dolls is just plain fun, whether for solo or group play. The baby dolls for toddlers on our list are soft, they’re diverse (or as much as they can possibly be, given the limited nature of what’s available in toy-land), and they don’t have any sharp parts that can scratch or hurt little hands. 

It's wonderful to see Barbie in a role that's more than just a fashionista, and this set offers great value for less than $20. Your child can pretend she's a doctor, complete with her own stethoscope, two baby towels, a bottle, care station, stethoscope and medical chart.

Kids three and up can feed this Baby Alive doll an assortment of snacks using her special spoon, and watch as she eats her food. The set includes a snack shaper, to prep the food, and of course, a diaper for the eventual defecation of said food. Kids can have fun removing the baby’s diaper, cleaning it out, and perhaps learning about the joys of potty training.

Meet the latest player in the surprise toys category. Blume Dolls sport fabulous fashion hairstyles and outfits that kids can mix and match. You just add water and see what blooms. Kids will be dazzled by the surprise factor.

This Baby Alive doll talks when you flip a switch. She's bilingual, speaking in both English and Spanish. And she'll tell you when she's ready to go potty. This Baby Alive doll is the perfect toy for kids who are potty-training. If your kid gives her a bottle, she'll pee on her potty and get a sticker as a reward. There's even a pretend soap dispenser to teach personal hygiene. This doll is great for kids three and up.

In the alternative universe of Monster High, cool ghouls hang out and have a good time. The dolls, as we're sure you know, are quite popular. When kids twist the knob in the her lower back, her torso grows and her branches extend and spread out. It's great for kids six and older.

Bees are having a rough go of it, and anything that boosts awareness of their plight is OK by us. This beekeeper Barbie comes with her own beehive. Plus, red and pink flowers, as well as the top of the beehive frame, have slots that can hold bees to play out pollination, showing kids just how much of a crucial role they play in our ecosystem.

If you've been living in a yurt, maybe you've missed the madness of L.O.L. Surprise dolls. This set in particular includes an exclusive L.O.L. Surprise doll and her pet. Kids can unbox six more surprises by opening surprise balls and digging through kinetic sand to find them.

Water babies will be into this Baby Born doll, which actually swims on her own in the tub. When you put this doll in water, she'll automatically move her arms. The set includes a bathing suit, goggles, flippers, hair clips, and a comb, and is suitable for kids age three and over.

A heroine who saves her people? Who is brave, strong, and fearless? This is a doll we can get behind. And this Moana doll is wearing her signature look from the film. Kids three and up can learn all about breaking the rules for the right reasons.

This super-soft doll is just as great for cuddling as she is for imaginative play. Kids will love giving her her binky and can practice weaning her off of it.

Cari has lifelike hair perfect for styling and a beanbag bottom that lets her sit on her own. The best part? She's machine washable.

Boy baby dolls can be hard to come by, but Luis doesn't disappoint. He's snuggly but sturdy, can sit on his own and is machine washable.

Brown-eyed baby Stella is cuddly and soft but has lifelike features, from toes and a belly button to hair.

These picture-perfect knit dolls will serve as cuddly companions and, later, imaginative playmates.

This plush doll can serve as something to cuddle when they're little, and transition to a toy that encourages imaginative, open-ended play when they're older.

Every product on Fatherly is independently selected by our editors, writers, and experts. If you click a link on our site and buy something, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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