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The Best Dolls for Babies and Toddlers

Nurturing toys for the win.

The best 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. 

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.

  • Let young imaginations be the doctor with Barbie dolls and medical play sets!
  • Barbie baby doctor doll is ready to see patients with an exam table, accessories to care for patients and two adorable babies
  • Her office set does double duty with a care station that features two tubs, a moving mobile and storage space
  • Themed accessories include a stethoscope, two baby towels, a bottle and a medical chart
  • Teal scrubs and white shoes are a perfect professional look

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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.

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.

  • Monster High Garden Ghouls Treesa Thornwillow doll really grows on you -- the 14.5-inch tree monster doll becomes a play set as you spread out her branches and open her trunk!
  • Unfold the trunks' two sides to expand the play set or to remove Treesa Thornwillow doll from the clips for two-in-one fun!
  • Twist the knob in the doll's lower back to see her torso grow and the branches that extend from a tree house on her upper back lift up and spread out
  • Decorate the green branches with the six included garden icons in bright colors -- there are two flowers, three bugs and a web
  • Other items in the line, like the Monster High Garden Ghouls winged critters dolls, also connect to Treesa Thornwillow doll's tree play set (sold separately)

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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.

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.

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

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.