Babywearing dolls are so useful! Often when I'm learning a new carry, my baby isn't always as patient as I need him to be. And sometimes he naps, yet I still need to practice or teach! Thank goodness for dolls, and thank goodness for dolls that can be made without breaking the bank or needing expert sewing skills. This is the fastest and easiest way I know to get a newborn size doll for less than $20 and less than an hour. Here's a step-by-step of how I do it:
Step 1: Gather supplies. You'll need a toy doll, weighted stuffing material, maybe a funnel, and a safety pin. The easiest place to get a doll is the local toy store. I look for the largest doll that has a soft body. This "You and Me" doll from Toys R Us fits the bill for today. It retails for $19.99 and at the time of this writing it was on sale for $14.99. For today's weighted material I'm using rice (more on that in Step 4). Get started by removing the doll's accessories and clothing.
Step 2: Begin modifications. This particular doll has a "voice box," so I remove the batteries. I cut a small hole in the lining below the voice box so I can begin to remove the doll's lightweight stuffing.
Step 3: Remove all the stuffing. We need all the airy lightweight stuff out so we can replace it with weighted material. Don't forget to dig into the arms and legs to get every last bit of stuffing out. Set it aside and reuse in another project.
Step 4: Add weighted material. For this doll I'm using two pounds of rice as my weighted material. The benefits of rice are that it is inexpensive (usually about a dollar a pound), it is readily available, it has a good weight, and it is easy to stuff into this doll. The only downside to rice (other than it goes everywhere if it doesn't get inside the doll, even with the aid of my funnel) is that if rice gets wet it can become a mess inside the doll. I'm okay with this risk because I dress my dolls well (it makes them last longer) and I pack them inside my babywearing suitcase when I tote them around. Other weighted material options are small rocks, beans, or maybe sand depending on the thickness of your doll's fabric body.
Step 5: Close up the stuffing opening. I am using a safety pin here because I want to be able to easily add more stuffing later, or even remove stuffing if my doll is too stiff. Some people might also take this step to seal off the openings between the dolls legs and body, and maybe also at baby's knees. This would be done to make baby get into an obvious "M" position with easily posable knees and hips. This is an optional modification and can be done with hair ties or rubber bands.
Step 6: Dress baby for use. A layer of fabric over baby will help to protect plastic pieces from discoloring, prevent stains to the doll's body, and generally prolongs the doll's use by protecting from routine wear and tear. I haven't added accessories to this doll yet, but I'll be using a cloth diaper to help give baby a nice chunky bum that aids in seat-making. Hats are great for protecting doll heads from bumps and scratches (and from the real germs of the real humans who love to kiss and sometimes slobber over fake babies' heads). I used the clothes this baby arrived in, footie pajamas, which often opens the conversation about whether or not footie pj's should be left on for babywearing (here's an article about that and spoiler: footie pj's are fine).
There you go! An inexpensive and quick demo doll that took me less than an hour to put together. In the end she's about 19 inches long and 4.5 pounds. A doll's weight feels heavier than it actually is so this doll feels just a touch smaller than an average sized newborn. Happy doll making!!
This post was not sponsored by a company or group