The 20 Best Dolls of 2023

The Baby Alive Lil Sounds doll is interactive and fun for a wide range of ages

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The Best Dolls

Amazon

Dolls are a classic toy that has been around for ages and there are good reasons why. According to Mary McGaughan, Psy.D., “Playing with dolls can facilitate the development of creativity, perspective taking, consequential thinking, problem-solving, self-regulation, even fine motor skills. Playing with others can afford the opportunity to develop and rehearse a range of social skills.” Whether you're looking for a special doll for your child, a cool Barbie to add to their collection, a soft plush doll for them to take everywhere they go, or an heirloom toy they'll pass on to the next generation, we've rounded up the best dolls for kids of all ages.

Reviewed & Approved

Our top pick is the Baby Alive Baby Lil Sounds because it’s an interactive doll (with an on/off switch) that’s well sized for little hands and has enough features to keep young kids busy. For a different type of doll experience, the Just Play Art Squad Doll & Accessories is a fun blend of doll plus DIY project—kids get to style her over and over again with the included art supplies.

According to Marni Brand, LCSW, dolls provide an opportunity for all kids to develop important nurturing skills. “Don't leave out the boys! They will benefit just as much from fostering empathy and nurturing through role-playing and social skill-building with dolls,” she says.

The nice thing about dolls is there is such a wide range on the market. That means you can surely find the right doll for your budget, child’s age, and interest. In addition to your personal preferences, be sure to consider the doll’s size, weight, accessories, and special features. And when looking at age recommendations, keep in mind that younger siblings may want to play with the doll, too, so you’ll want to avoid or properly store small accessories. There’s a wide range of prices for dolls, so expect to pay anywhere from $12 to more than $100 depending on the type of doll.  

You know your kid best—if they are a rough and tumble kiddo, it may not be worth investing in an expensive, precious doll. On the flip side, other kids will feel honored knowing their doll is a special investment and look forward to the care required of a special doll.

Best Overall

Baby Alive Baby Lil Sounds

4.8
Baby Alive Baby Lil Sounds

Amazon

Pros
  • Plastic material can be wiped clean

  • Interactive doll with 10 sounds

  • On/off switch

Cons
  • Not plush

  • 1 AA battery required

This beloved doll lives up to its Baby Alive name—it makes 10 different sounds, including giggling, babbling, and crying (no worries, parents, there’s an on-and-off switch, too). Not only does this cutie make noise, but she also responds to your child’s actions: When you lay the baby down, she yawns and makes sleepy sounds; when it’s time to play again, simply lift her up and she’ll respond to the movement and wake up. 

In addition to the realistic noises, this Baby Alive recognizes her pacifier. When your kiddo takes the pacifier out, the doll may make some whining sounds, giggle, or even hiccup. When the pacifier is back in, she’ll happily make sucking noises. Caregivers will appreciate that all of these interactive movements are powered by just one AA battery, which is included.

Perfect for ages 3 years old and up, the 12-inch doll is made of softer plastic. While she’s not super soft and cuddly, the plastic does have some give and the surface can easily be wiped clean with a wet cloth should your baby doll get dirty. 

We like that this doll is well sized and affordable, and with the removable pacifier and dress, your kiddo can give this doll lots of attention and caregiving while using and developing their fine motor skills. Unfortunately, this Baby Alive doll only comes in a girl version, but it is available in a couple of different skin tones

Price at time of publication: $17

Weight: 16 ounces | Height: 12 inches | Recommended Ages: 3 and up | Accessories: Removable dress and pacifier

What Our Experts Say

“There are many benefits for children engaging in pretend play with dolls. It can give them a chance to practice social skills, build empathy, and make sense of the world around them. Play-based learning with dolls can help improve communication, fine motor skills, and help children begin to understand their feelings, family dynamics, and social nuances.” — Marni Brand, LCSW

Best Budget

Disney Encanto Mirabel Doll

Disney Encanto Mirabel Doll

Amazon

Pros
  • Removable accessories

  • Poseable body

  • Brushable curly hair

Cons
  • Movie tie-in could date the doll

  • Other characters sold separately

Disney’s Encanto’s star, Mirabel Madrigal, will be a welcome addition to your home. A quick unboxing reveals a beautifully detailed, posable plastic doll with Mirabel’s signature curly hair that’s easily brushable and ready to be styled. Encanto fans will notice the spot-on details of Mirabel’s look—she comes with her famous glasses, her long teal skirt with her name embroidered on it, pom-pom earrings, and bright pink espadrille shoes. All of the items are removable, so your kiddo will enjoy prepping Mirabel for all her adventures. 

We love that this big doll is not a budget-buster, but if your child wants Mirabel to play with her other Encanto friends, you’ll need to purchase other dolls separately. Additionally, the movie tie-in could date this doll. If your child is “over” Encanto, the sweet Mirabel may lose her appeal. The doll is 15 inches tall and is recommended for kids 3 years old and up; younger kids may need help if they choose to dress and undress the doll. 

Price at time of publication: $20

Weight: 1.3 pounds | Height: 15 inches | Recommended Ages: 3 and up | Accessories: Glasses, pom pom earrings, dress, and espadrilles

Best Baby Doll

Melissa & Doug Jenna 12" Doll

Melissa and Doug Mine to Love Doll

Amazon

Pros
  • Safe for 18 months old and up

  • Soft, cuddly body

  • Inclusive skin tones

Cons
  • Plush body is harder to clean

Baby dolls can be valuable tools to help kids with their social and emotional learning. This Melissa & Doug favorite is a classic baby doll that is safe for kids as young as 18 months old. At 12 inches tall, it is also the right size for little kiddos. We love that the soft body is ideal for snuggling and toting around, but it’s also poseable and can even sit up. 

Along with a cute face, the doll has eyes that open and close—when it’s laying down the eyes close, and when it’s picked up, the eyes open. Kids can practice their fine motor skills with all of the doll’s accessories—it comes with a removable pacifier, hat, and romper. We also like that this Melissa & Doug doll comes in a few inclusive skin tones, like a Latinx baby doll named Mariana and a Black baby doll named Gabrielle

Price at time of publication: $33

Weight: 1.2 pounds | Height: 12 inches | Recommended Ages: 18 months old and up | Accessories: Removable bonnet, romper, and pacifier

Best Fashion

Just Play Art Squad Nene 10-inch Doll & Accessories

Just Play Art Squad Nene

Amazon

Pros
  • Interactive doll plus art project

  • Ability to paint over and re-do

  • Doll is part of a series

Cons
  • Small accessories

  • For kids ages 5 and up

Create a bold look and stand-out fashion statement with this Art Squad toy. Part doll, part DIY project, Nene is a great pick for fashion-forward and creative kiddos. She is recommended for ages 5 and up, is 10 inches tall, and comes with 15 accessories, including markers, a color-in headband, paint, and etching tools. Nene boasts colorful streaked, brushable hair. 

There’s a cool bag charm and dress that kids can etch beautiful designs on. The three included markers can also be used to color Nene’s clothing and accessories. We love that this isn’t a one-time project—the paint and sponge brush can be used to paint over the designs and etch again! The ability to create personalized looks again and again makes this our top fashion pick. Relatively inexpensive, this doll is part of the Art Squad series, which also includes Vana, Andi, and Lady T

Price at time of publication: $25

Weight: 1.2 pounds | Height: 10 inches | Recommended Ages: 5 up | Accessories: 15 accessories and art tools

Best for Toddlers

CoCoMelon Interactive Learning JJ Doll

CoCoMelon Interactive Learning JJ Doll

Amazon

Pros
  • Interactive with lights and sounds

  • On/off button

  • Batteries are included

Cons
  • Requires 2 AAA batteries

  • Doll isn’t poseable

CocoMelon enthusiasts will go nuts for this cute JJ doll—and parents will appreciate it as a teaching tool. The 10.5-inch doll has a plastic head, hands, and feet, and the body is a softer material. JJ comes sitting up and cannot be posed, so while he’s lots of fun, it may not be the best pick for cuddling or sleeping with. 

With his signature “Learn with Me” shirt and holding a light-up learning block and radio in his hands, JJ comes ready to play. The battery-powered doll has four interactive buttons and over 50 phrases and songs. Kids can learn and follow along with ABCs, 123s, and colors. Parents will appreciate the included two AAA batteries and the on/off switch located on the back of the doll. You won’t risk any middle-of-the-night singing from JJ! 

Price at time of publication: $28

Weight: 1.3 pounds | Height: 10.5 inches | Recommended Ages: 18 months and up | Accessories: None

Best for Preschool Kids

Cabbage Patch Kids Newborn Babydoll

Cabbage Patch Kids Newborn Babydoll

Amazon

Pros
  • Right size for preschoolers

  • Removable swaddle

  • Nostalgic for parents

Cons
  • Signature Cabbage Patch smell may not be liked by all

  • Limited skin tones

Parents of preschoolers may love having this nostalgic Cabbage Patch doll back in the house. You may even recognize that signature Cabbage Patch scent, which may bring back memories for some while others may not like a scented doll. Well sized for preschoolers' hands, this newborn baby doll is just 9 inches tall. Featuring a plastic head and hands, the body, arms, and legs are all soft and huggable and are easy for little kids to tote around. 

The baby doll comes with a removable swaddle, so youngsters can have fun wrapping up their baby for a nap or taking it on the go. Like other Cabbage Patch dolls, this new version comes with a one-of-a-kind adoption birth announcement. While it’s not poseable, the plastic hands are molded and the thumb can fit into the baby’s mouth for sucking. Although there aren’t many skin tone options, a Black baby doll is available. 

Price at time of publication: $15

Weight: 6 ounces | Height: 9 inches | Recommended Ages: 12 months old and up | Accessories: Removable swaddle blanket and adoption birth announcement

Best for Elementary School-Aged Kids

ORIJIN BEES Sweet Puffy Baby Bee Doll

ORIJIN BEES Sweet Puffy Baby Bee Doll

Maisonette

Pros
  • Realistic skin tones and curly hair textures

  • Inclusive representation

  • Poseable body

Cons
  • Higher price point

  • Not plush for snuggling

O.R.I.J.I.N. B.E.E.S. is the acronym for Our Representation Is Just Inclusion Normalized, Beautifully Empowering Every Soul, and that’s just what these meticulously crafted dolls do. The non-toxic vinyl 12-inch dolls feature poseable arms and legs. Kids will delight in the inclusive options that represent Black, African American, Latino, Biracial, Caribbean, and all other girls with curly hair who have often struggled to see themselves in their own dolls. 

While certainly a higher price point than some of the other options on our list, these well-made dolls come with a beautiful (and removable) dress and hair accessory. Your child will also love the kid-sized matching hair accessory that’s included. Easy to spot clean, the non-toxic vinyl has some give, so the dolls aren’t super hard or rigid. 

Price at time of publication: $55

Weight: 1.4 pounds | Height: 12 inches | Recommended Ages: 3 years old and up | Accessories: Removable dress and hair accessory

Best With Accessories

Barbie Fashionistas Ultimate Closet

Barbie Fashionistas Ultimate Closet

Amazon

Pros
  • Includes Barbie doll

  • All clothes and accessories pack into closet

  • Room for additional accessories

Cons
  • Small accessories not suitable for kids under 3 years old

  • No storage space for the Barbie doll

Fashion fans will love this accessory-packed ultimate closet. We love that not only does the portable closet come stocked with more than 15 items of clothing and accessories, but the Barbie doll is also included, so kids will have fun changing clothes, adding accessories, and creating stylish looks. The 12-inch Barbie doll comes wearing a striped dress and sandals. Included in the closet are six hangers, two additional dresses, shoes, necklaces, and purses. 

The closet has a fold-out rack and a spinning hanger rack, so it’s easy to look at and store the clothes. There’s also plenty of space for any Barbie accessories your kiddo may already have. When playtime is over, the closet doors fully close, so all the accessories can be neatly stored away. A handle at the top makes it simple to tote this closet to wherever your kiddo is playing. While the age recommendation is for 3 years old and up, the abundance of small parts may be better for older kids. 

Price at time of publication: $37

Weight: 10 ounces | Height: 12 inches | Recommended Ages: 3 and up | Accessories: 15+ accessories including clothes, shoes, and hangers

Best Interactive

Hatchimals Pixies Crystal Flyers Purple Magical Flying Pixie Toy Doll

Hatchimals Pixies, Crystal Flyers Purple Magical Flying Pixie Toy Doll

Amazon

Pros
  • Includes charging cord and storage “crystal” case

  • Built-in sensor

  • Auto stop function

Cons
  • Indoor use only

  • Learning curve to master flying

This Hatchimals Pixies Crystal Flyer is a cross between a flying fairy and a kid’s drone. The plastic doll comes with a USB charging cord and a sparkling “crystal” egg. Once fully charged (charging time is not listed), switch the fairy on and she will magically lift out of the crystal egg base. Your child can use their hands to control her: By lifting up their hands, the Pixie will fly higher, and she will descend if they lower their hands. An indoor-only toy, it’s best if the Pixie is played in an open space—expect her to bump into walls and the ceiling a bit before your kid masters the flying technique, so a room filled with delicate items might be dangerous. 

The 10-inch flying doll has delicate glittery wings. While it is a fun and interactive novelty, kids will need to take care of the delicate wings. If they get damaged, the pixie won’t fly very well. 

Price at time of publication: $40

Weight: 14 ounces | Height: 10 inches | Recommended Ages: 6 years old and up | Accessories: USB charging cable and crystal egg display case

Best Plush

Manhattan Toy Wee Baby Stella Nurturing Baby Doll

Manhattan Toy Wee Baby Stella Nurturing Baby Doll

Buy Buy Baby

Pros
  • Soft, lightweight, and huggable

  • Inclusive skin tone and gender options

Cons
  • For younger kids

Safely constructed for kids as young as 1 year old, this classic plush baby doll will be loved for years to come. Made of super soft polyester, the 12-inch doll comes with arms wide open, ready for hugs. We love that there are a number of inclusive skin tone and gender options for this doll, so you can find one that looks like your kiddo or is more representative of a diverse community. 

The plush doll comes with removable clothes and a diaper, so older children will have fun caring for and changing the baby’s clothes. A magnetic pacifier is helpful to soothe Stella or can easily come off her mouth. The only drawback to this plush doll is it’s a bit juvenile. While it’s perfect for younger kids, older kids may feel this plush cutie is too babyish to play with. 

Price at time of publication: $25

Weight: 8 ounces | Height: 12 inches | Recommended Ages: 1 year old and up | Accessories: Removable clothes, diaper, and magnetic pacifier

Best Realistic

Miniland Educational Baby Doll Asian Girl

Miniland Educational Baby Doll Asian Girl

Amazon

Pros
  • Multiple inclusive skin tones, genders, and ethnicities

  • Soft, poseable vinyl

Cons
  • Vanilla scented

  • Clothing sold separately

As a company, Miniland’s goal is to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion by making every child feel represented. Its wide-ranging array of dolls showcases well-defined and realistic-looking facial features, genders, and skin tones. The 12-inch vinyl doll also has poseable limbs, so the doll can easily sit up on its own. 

The doll comes dressed in just a camisole and underwear. Clothes are sold separately, but since it’s a common size, other doll clothes will fit this cutie. Easy to care for, the vinyl can be wiped clean with a wet cloth. It does come with a vanilla scent that is pretty strong, so be prepared prior to purchase and avoid it if anyone in your family is especially sensitive to scents. 

Price at time of publication: $47

Weight: 1.8 pounds | Height: 12 inches | Recommended Ages: 3 and up | Accessories: Camisole and underwear

Best Unboxing

LOL Surprise Loves Mini Sweets Surprise-O-Matic Dolls with 9 Surprises

LOL Surprise Loves Mini Sweets

Amazon

Pros
  • 12 candy-themed toys in the series

  • Vending machine doubles as storage

  • Water surprise feature on the doll

Cons
  • Cannot choose theme

  • Small accessories

Enjoy the sweet life with this LOL Surprise Loves Mini Sweets Doll, which comes in a variety of familiar candy themes like Jolly Rancher, Reese’s, Twizzlers, Bazooka Joe, Pez, Peeps, and more. The only drawback is you can’t choose which one (or ones) you order—it’s meant to be a surprise—so building up the whole collection will be a challenge. 

This LOL Surprise doll comes in a capsule that doubles as a vending machine. Press a button on the machine and each surprise pops down the chute and is ready to be unwrapped. Along with the doll and vending machine, the set comes with shoes, a bottle, three accessories, and one sticker. As an added bonus, the vending machine serves as storage for the doll and her gear. 

Price at time of publication: $15

Weight: 2.82 ounces | Height: 6 inches, including the vending machine | Recommended Ages: 4 and up | Accessories: 9 surprises

Best Goth

Monster High Doll Cleo De Nile

Monster High Clawdeen Wolf

Amazon

Pros
  • Monster High has movie and TV tie-ins

  • 12-inch doll is standard size for clothes

Cons
  • Creepy details may scare some kids

School is back in session with this creeptastic Monster High doll. The 12-inch plastic doll is just one in the full collection of Monster High toys. Kids may know them from a popular television show and movie series. While the spooky features may be loved by some kids, younger kids could be frightened by details like built-in fangs, so check the doll’s looks carefully prior to buying. 

We appreciate that this doll comes fully dressed with a lot of accessories, including a belt, purse, snack, boots, and cute animal pet. Since the Monster High dolls are 12 inches tall, the clothes and gear are interchangeable with other popular dolls of the same size. 

Price at time of publication: $25

Weight: 12 ounces | Height: 12 inches | Recommended Ages: 3 and up | Accessories: Clothes, accessories, handbag, and a pet

Best Customizable

Rainbow High Fashion Studio Avery Styles

Rainbow High Fashion Studio

Amazon

Pros
  • Create over 300 unique styles

  • Hanging rack with hangers

  • Fully articulated and posable doll

Cons
  • Small accessories

  • Hair needs to be washed

Mini fashionistas will love the Rainbow High Fashion Studio. Along with a fully articulated and posable 11-inch plastic doll, the set comes with over 40 accessories including two wigs, five tops, dresses, a jacket, a hoodie, jeans, shoes, hangers, and a clothing rack. With the mix-and-match styles, this customizable doll can have over 300 stylish looks. She also comes with a doll stand, so she can show off her favorite look that your kiddo has put together. 

This doll is recommended for kids 4 years old and up, but there are a lot of small parts and clothing. With a goal of constantly changing clothes, this may prove a bit challenging for little kids and their small hands. One odd piece of advice—in the description it’s recommended that buyers wash the doll’s hair to remove styling gel and get her hair ready to brush. It’s a bit strange that she comes coated in hair gel, but at least washing her hair is an easy remedy. 

Price at time of publication: $50

Weight: Not available | Height: 11 inches | Recommended Ages: 4 and up | Accessories: 40+ accessories

Best Classic

Madame Alexander Kindness Club Dolls

Madame Alexander Kindness Club

Amazon

Pros
  • Posable, articulated bodies

  • Brushable hair

Cons
  • Limited tie-in with “Kindness Club”

Classic dolls from Madame Alexander get a modern update with the Kindness Club doll series. Meant to teach caring and respect for all people, the diverse group of seven dolls are all 14 inches tall. They come with stylish accessories and cute outfits. We love that Madame Alexander, a century-old company, has updated its dolls with more diversity and inclusivity, but we do wish the Kindness Club had a bit more of a tie-in. That said, the 14-inch doll is beautifully made and has a moldable and poseable body, realistic fixed eyes, and rooted, brushable hair. 

Price at time of publication: $60

Weight: 1.4 pounds | Height: 14 inches | Recommended Ages: 3 and up | Accessories: Full outfit, socks, and shoes

Best Hair

Just Play Barbie Small Styling Head

Just Play Barbie Small Styling Head

Amazon

Pros
  • Oversized head is ideal for styling

  • Hair accessories included

  • Inclusive hair color options

Cons
  • Limited use—not a full doll

  • No storage for accessories

Little stylists will love to braid, brush, and twist the hair on this oversized Barbie head to create exciting new looks. Available in three inclusive hair and skin color tones, we appreciate that they’re all available on the same purchase page. The set comes with a brush and 15 hair accessories, so stylists will have all they need to create Barbie’s best looks. Not only is this a fun hair-focused option, but it’ll help build fine motor skills as kids work with small accessories. 

While lots of fun, this isn’t a full doll, so the focus is really on Barbie’s hair. We wish that there was storage for the accessories in the base, but there’s not, so the brush and hair doodads will need to be stored separately. 

Price at time of publication: $28

Weight: 13 ounces | Height: 8 inches| Recommended Ages: 3 and up | Accessories: Brush and 15 hair accessories

Best Small Doll

Polly Pocket Gumball Playset

Polly Pocket Gumball Playset

Amazon

Pros
  • All accessories store in gumball machine

  • Interactive play

Cons
  • Lots of small parts

Known for their mini-size, these tiny Polly Pocket dolls are smaller than 2 inches tall, so be prepared for tiny accessories. The all-plastic set comes with two dolls that reside in a gumball machine-shaped house. The machine opens on two sides revealing four play scenes and 32 miniature accessories.

The age recommendation is for kids 4 years old and up, but it may be best for older kiddos. While we like that the tiny accessories are portable and pack up into the gumball machine, they could be easily lost. Take extra care if there are young siblings around or your kiddo is prone to putting toys in their mouth. 

Price at time of publication: $34

Weight: Not listed | Height: 2 inches | Recommended Ages: 4 and up | Accessories: 2 dolls, 30+ accessories

Best Large Doll

American Girl Truly Me

American Girl Truly Me

Amazon

Pros
  • Heirloom quality

  • Collection incorporates diversity and inclusion

  • Includes a book

Cons
  • Expensive doll and accessories

The Truly Me series from American Girl lets you choose skin tone, hair color, gender, and wardrobe based on personal style and preference. The doll can end up looking just like your kiddo or just a buddy they’ve created. The biggest (and most expensive) doll on our list, these 18-inch dolls have realistic looking eyes that open and close, hair that can be styled, moveable head and limbs that are made of smooth vinyl, and a soft cotton body.

American Girls dolls are expensive and definitely an investment, so they’re recommended for kids 6 years old and up. With a vast array of accessories and add-ons available, it’s also possible to outfit your doll with options from other retailers that will fit the doll’s 18-inch dimensions. Along with the doll, each purchase comes with a kid-friendly book or journal. 

Price at time of publication: $115

Weight: 2.9 pounds | Height: 18 inches | Recommended Ages: 6 and up | Accessories: Clothing and book

What Our Experts Say

“American Girl dolls, while pricey, can be made to look like the child, which is a great way to help kids play with dolls that look like them.” — Marni Brand, LCSW

Best Newborn

Pottery Barn Kids Gotz Baby Doll

Pottery Barn Kids Gotz Baby Doll

Pottery Barn Kids

Pros
  • Realistic looking baby

  • Machine washable

  • Six inclusive options

Cons
  • No accessories

Meant to be cuddled and cared for, this newborn baby doll could be a great gift for a new big brother or sister. In fact, the 16.5-inch doll is almost the size of some newborn babies! We love that this Gotz baby doll comes in six inclusive options with a variety of skin tones and clothing color options. Realistic-looking eyes, real eyelashes, and eyes that open and close add to the experience. 

Unlike some other dolls, this one is machine washable, which is a huge advantage if your little one carries their doll everywhere they go. There are no user reviews, but the Gotz brand has been around for 60+ years. 

Price at time of publication: $79

Weight: Not listed | Height: 16.5 inches | Recommended Ages: 3 and up | Accessories: One-piece outfit and hat

Best Waterproof

Barbie Mermaid Doll With Water-Activated Twinkle Light-Up Tail

Mermaid Barbie Doll

Amazon

Pros
  • Lights up when in water

  • Button to light up for out of water

Cons
  • Mermaid tail is not removable

Bathtime just got way more fun with this Barbie Dreamtopia mermaid. The 12-inch tall plastic mermaid is made for underwater adventures. When Barbie enters the water, her pearlescent tail lights up in a four-color light show. Even if she’s not in the water, the light show is only a click away—there’s a button on her bodice to light her tail up anytime. 

Her long colorful hair is brushable and fun to play with in the water—both her arms can move and her head can spin around. Barbie’s mermaid tail and glittery tiara are not removable, so she can’t change clothes or wear any other clothes (since she has no legs). Besides the bath, this doll is fun to play in a kiddie pool. Her lights are battery-powered (included), but the battery can’t be replaced when it dies. 

Price at time of publication: $23

Weight: Not listed | Height: 12 inches | Recommended Ages: 3 and up | Accessories: Light up feature button

How We Selected the Best Dolls for Kids

In picking the best dolls for kids, we selected options that are inclusive, have a wide range of styles, work for different age needs, are readily available, and are relatively affordable. Other factors include materials, care instructions, and shipping and return policies. We looked for dolls that live up to their promises of quality and durability. We also interviewed a school social worker and a licensed psychologist and asked for their expert opinion and recommendations. 

What to Look for in Dolls for Kids

Recommended Age

Use the guidelines on any doll’s packaging to find the recommended age range. Even young babies may love snuggling a soft and safe baby doll. As your child ages, take care with any small parts or accessories. Even if your child is old enough to play with them, if you have younger kiddos at home, these small pieces could be a safety hazard, so they should always be stored safely.

Quality 

When shopping for a child’s doll, the quality of the materials can often dictate the longevity of the doll. Sure, not all dolls need to be keepsakes, but it’s worth investing in a higher quality doll if you know your child will play with it often or even be sleeping or snuggling with it. For plush dolls, check the cleaning instructions. Plastic or rubber dolls can usually be wiped down with a baby wipe or wet cloth, but always follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions. If your kiddo likes to take their doll everywhere they go, machine-washable dolls, like the Gotz Babies, are a great option.

Features

Look for dolls that are safe, fun, and provide more realistic or inclusive features. Dolls have evolved so much in recent years that there are many options with skin tones, shapes, sizes, and genders. "I’d recommend looking for dolls that depict a realistic body shape and provide a variety of dolls reflecting both your child’s image and interests as well as other cultures, ethnicities, genders, and interests," says Mary McGaughan, Psy.D. 

Inclusivity and Customization

Dolls are a wonderful way for kids to practice empathy and create scenarios that reflect the world and people around them. According to Mary McGaughan, Psy.D., "body image and self-image develop throughout early childhood, and the dolls and toys that children are introduced to can impact their perceptions of who they ‘should’ be and what they ‘should’ look like." She reminds us, "The world is full of lots of different people and there is no way any of us ‘should look’ so providing dolls with realistic body proportions and those that resemble BOTH your child and other children’s ethnicities, genders, body types, cultures, and interests can facilitate self and other acceptance."

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How much does a quality doll cost?

    There is a huge range of doll costs, with choices from this list ranging from $12 for a LOL Surprise doll to over $100 for an American Girl doll. While the more expensive toys can certainly become heirlooms and are made of high-quality materials, that doesn’t always mean they are inherently more fun or will be played with more. "The price for many of these dolls is definitely not cheap, so paper dolls and/or stuffed animals or homemade dolls can also be used," says Brand. See what your child is interested in and gravitates towards before investing in pricey dolls.

  • What age is good for a doll?

    Kids as young as one year old can benefit from playing with a doll, as long as it’s safe and made for the right age range. Even from a young age, dolls have so many benefits. "Dolls facilitate imaginative play, which can help develop social-emotional skills like perspective taking, consequential thinking, problem-solving, and self-regulation. Dolls also provide an opportunity to safely role play scenarios or problems a child may be learning about or experiencing," says Mary McGaughan, Psy.D.

  • What is the most popular doll in 2023?

    There are so many dolls on the market these days, it’s hard to pick just one. Many of the picks on our list are classic dolls that have gotten an upgrade to be more inclusive and have become quite popular again, like Cabbage Patch Kids, American Girl, and Madame Alexander. That being said, the best-selling dolls on the most popular retailers include LOL surprise dolls, Barbies, the Melissa & Doug Mine to Love Baby, and the Hatchimal Flying Pixies.

Why Trust Verywell Family

Maya Polton is a former marketing manager and current freelance writer who covers food, home, and parenting. She’s also the mom of a 12-year-old son, a 9-year-old son, and a 5-year-old daughter. Maya was a huge American Girl doll fan growing up and loved the historical books that went along with the dolls. Her older kids have no interest in them, but her daughter loves these special dolls and may be nearing an age where she will finally get her own. For now, she’s too focused on LOL Surprise dolls.