The Best Dolls for Toddlers in 2020

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Our Top 4 Picks for the Best Dolls for Toddlers

Best Doll for 1-Year-Olds: Manhattan Toy Wee Baby Stella Sleepy Time Scents Soft Doll Set
Ease into bedtime with a new friend. Baby Stella is very cuddly and even has a lavender scent to promote calm and sleep. She also comes in a darker skin tone.

Best Doll for 2-Year-Olds: Cabbage Patch Kids 11" Deluxe Sing N' Snuggle
Nostalgia galore for parents with this doll, but little ones will also love how it sings and even makes sucking noises when feeding. Plus, it’s soft and cuddly for bedtime snuggles.

Best Doll for 3-Year-Olds: Berenguer Boutique 15" Soft Body Baby Doll
This doll is perfect for pretend play as your toddler gets a little older. It’s a traditional-looking baby doll and comes with tons of accessories.

Best dolls for 4-year-olds: Glitter Girls Dolls by Battat
Best dolls for 4-year-olds
If your child is about to leave the toddler years, this is the perfect tea party companion. Transition from a “baby” doll to a doll they can dress up and style.

Dolls are a classic toy for children of all ages, especially toddlers. They’re great for imaginative play at an age where toddlers are learning to make sense of the world around them, and one way they do that is to have a little doll of their own to take care of and treat as a buddy.

However, finding the best dolls for toddlers can be a bit of a wild goose chase. There are a lot of different dolls, but many look so similar that it’s hard to choose.

In this list, we’ve broken it down into the best dolls for toddlers by age, plus some specific categories to help you find the best pick for your child. These dolls are varied in developmental stage, styling, skin tone, gender, and more. With our 15 curated, parent- and child-approved choices, there’s definitely one for everyone here.

Table of Contents
  1. Our Top 4 Picks for the Best Dolls for Toddlers
  2. The Best Dolls for Toddlers
    1. Best doll for 1-year-olds: Manhattan Toy Wee Baby Stella Sleepy Time Scents Soft Doll Set
    2. Best doll for 2-year-olds: Cabbage Patch Kids 11″ Deluxe Sing N’ Snuggle
      1. Honorable mention: HABA Cari 12″ African American Soft Doll
    3. Best doll for 3-year-olds: Berenguer Boutique 15″ Soft Body Baby Doll
      1. Honorable mention: Adora Adoption Baby Hope
    4. Best dolls for 4-year-olds: Glitter Girls Dolls by Battat 
      1. Honorable mention: American Girl WellieWishers Kendall Doll
    5. Best interactive baby doll: Baby Alive Real As Can Be Baby
    6. Best first baby doll: Playskool Pink Glo Worm Stuffed Lullaby Toy
      1. Honorable mention: Stephan Baby Soft Plush My First Doll
    7. Best twin baby dolls: Melissa & Doug Luke & Lucy 15″ Dolls
    8. Best doll and stroller combo: Best Choice Products Kids 15-Piece 13.5in Newborn Baby Doll Nursery Role Play Playset 
    9. Best doll accessories set: Prextex 18 Piece My First Baby Doll Accessories in Zippered Carrying Case
    10. Best doll for toddler boys: Playskool Dressy Kids Boy Activity Plush Stuffed Doll
      1. Honorable mention: Wonder Crew Superhero Buddy
      2. Honorable mention: Berenguer Boutique 15″ Soft Body Baby Doll
  3. A Guide to Buying the Best Dolls for Toddlers
    1. Choosing the best dolls for 1-year-olds
    2. Choosing the best dolls for 2-year-olds
    3. Choosing the best dolls for 3-year-olds
    4. Choosing the best dolls for 4-year-olds
    5. Other features to consider
    6. How will it be used?
  4. FAQ about Dolls
    1. Are dolls good for toddlers?
    2. What are the benefits of playing with dolls?
    3. Can boys play with dolls?
    4. When can babies start playing with dolls?
  5. Final thoughts

The Best Dolls for Toddlers

Best doll for 1-year-olds: Manhattan Toy Wee Baby Stella Sleepy Time Scents Soft Doll Set

Two things on every parent’s mind when they have a little one are safety and sleep. This doll can help with both because it’s rated by the manufacturer for children as young as 12 months. Plus, the calming lavender scent and snuggly softness are perfect for relaxing at bedtime. 

The simple design is adorable, and this line of dolls comes in a variety of skin tones, hair color, and facial features. Plus, there are multiple gender options. 

This doll is highly rated on Amazon, with the most common complaint being that the lavender scent is too strong for some.

Key features
  • Smaller size
  • Includes magnetic pacifier, bottle, bear, and book
  • Soft fabric with embroidery for facial features

  • Micro-encapsulated lavender scent
  • Manufacturer’s recommended age: 12 months – 6 years
Pros
  • Safe for a 1-year-old without parts that could detach and be hazardous
  • Comes in a variety of skin tones and hairstyles
  • Includes accessories
  • Cuddly and lavender-scented for peaceful bedtimes
  • Diverse skin tones
Cons
  • Most like the lavender scent, but some felt it was too strong

Best doll for 2-year-olds: Cabbage Patch Kids 11″ Deluxe Sing N’ Snuggle

Best Doll for 2-Year-Olds: Cabbage Patch Kids 11" Deluxe Sing N' Snuggle
Interactive noises and a feeding bottle will keep toddlers engaged.

Most parents will remember the famous Cabbage Patch doll fondly. This is the updated version for the current crop of kids, and it’s super adorable. It sings, makes noises (even drinking sounds), and comes with a bottle for feedings. It’s also the perfect size for this age range to easily hold.

This doll is also rated highly on Amazon with very few complaints. One thing we noticed about pretty much all Cabbage Patch dolls is a lack of diversity in the look. Most have blue eyes, fair skin, and light hair. If you’re looking for an equally adorable doll for this age range with more options, try this HABA doll instead.

Key features
  • Accessories included: Bottle and birth certificate
  • Makes drinking sounds, says phrases, and hums a lullaby

  • Manufacturer’s recommended age: 24 months and up
Pros
  • Soft and huggable
  • Interactive with songs and noises
  • Small enough for little hands
  • Nostalgia factor for parents
Cons
  • Some parents may not like the sounds and would prefer quiet toys
  • One parent also thought the sounds were “creepy”
  • No diverse skin tone options

Honorable mention: HABA Cari 12″ African American Soft Doll

HABA’s line of 12” soft dolls are so adorable. They come in a fairly wide variety of skin tones, hair color, gender, and eye color. For parents who want quiet toys that don’t make noises, this is a great option for a 2-year-old.

Best doll for 3-year-olds: Berenguer Boutique 15″ Soft Body Baby Doll

Best Doll for 3-Year-Olds: Berenguer Boutique 15" Soft Body Baby Doll
A traditional-looking baby doll with lots of accessories for imaginative play.

For a 3-year-old, we chose a pretty traditional baby doll with eyes that close when you lay it down and tons of fun accessories for pretend play. 

It’s rated by the manufacturer for ages 24 months and up, so it could also be a great choice for toddlers not quite hitting 3 years old. Older children can play with this quintessential baby doll too, making it a great choice to grow with the child as well.

Most parents find it a great buy, though some found the mouth to be a little too small for some accessories or thumb-sucking.

It comes in a pink or blue outfit, but just one skin tone. Our honorable mention doll for a 3-year-old is another great choice with more diverse options.

Key features
  • Accessories included: Extra outfit, shoes, bottle, pacifier, rattle, plate, and utensils
  • Eyes close when laid down

  • Manufacturer’s recommended age: 24 months and up
Pros
  • Traditional-looking baby doll
  • Has a lot of accessories for pretend play
  • Cuddly body
  • A few inches larger than the dolls for younger toddlers
  • Comes in blue or pink
Cons
  • No diverse skin tone options
  • One parent said the bottle cap might fit in a small child’s mouth, so be aware
  • Pacifier and shoes can be hard to put on

Honorable mention: Adora Adoption Baby Hope

This honorable mention could have easily been our top pick. It’s an adorable baby doll that comes with some cool accessories like an adoption certificate to fill out, and is available in two skin tones. The only reason this one missed out on the top spot is because our number one choice had more accessories than this one.

Best dolls for 4-year-olds: Glitter Girls Dolls by Battat 

Best dolls for 4-year-olds: Glitter Girls Dolls by Battat
A cheaper but no less nice alternative to the American Girl dolls.

For 4-year-olds, we went with a doll that is the next phase of dolls for children to play with. Instead of being a baby doll, it’s more of a peer for children to dress up, have tea parties with, and be a little buddy.

The Glitter Girls Dolls by Battat come in a lot of different styles, skin tones, hair colors and textures, and more. You can easily change their clothes, and they’re a nice and less expensive alternative to the American Girl dolls.

Parents and kids love them, with perhaps the biggest flaw being that they are a little small at around 12 inches. But at their price point, they seem to be a great buy.

Key features
  • 14” tall
  • Comes with easy-to-change clothing to mix and match with other dolls or sets that are of the same size

  • Poseable limbs
  • Manufacturer’s recommended age: 36 months and up
Pros
  • Arms and legs bend and rotate so they can be posed
  • This line of dolls comes in diverse skin tones, hair colors, and styling
  • Less expensive than American Girl dolls
Cons
  • Smaller than similar dolls, like American Girl

Honorable mention: American Girl WellieWishers Kendall Doll

If it’s in your budget, these American Girl dolls are exquisite. We would have recommended these dolls that have many options, but they are technically recommended by the manufacturer for ages 5 and up. We wanted to mention them though because they’re just so beautiful, and while more expensive than the Glitter Girls dolls, still at a reasonable price point for American Girl.

Best interactive baby doll: Baby Alive Real As Can Be Baby

Baby Alive Real As Can Be Baby
As close to a real baby as you can get, without the mess of poop and pee.

This is about as close to a real baby as you can get. With over 80 expressions, movements, sounds, and phrases, this doll can actually interact and respond to your child. 

Unlike some other dolls on the market that are more realistic and interactive, it does NOT poop or pee. While some kids might find that fun and get a kick out of diaper changes, as parents we already change enough diapers, right? So the seemingly magical bottle with disappearing milk is a great mess-free alternative.

It also gets excellent reviews on Amazon, but it’s rated for children ages 3 and older, so it wouldn’t be suitable for younger toddlers.

Key features
  • 80+ different expressions, movements, and sounds
  • Accessories included: Removable outfit, hat, bib, blanket, pacifier, and bottle with disappearing milk

  • Manufacturer’s recommended age: 36 months and up
Pros
  • Very interactive with different modes and actually responds to you
  • Does NOT actually pee or poop, but gives child the illusion of feeding with a disappearing milk bottle with no mess to clean up
  • Darker skin tone available
Cons
  • Manufacturer recommends for 3 and up, so not suitable for younger toddlers
  • If you want one that wets or soils diapers, this one does NOT do that

Best first baby doll: Playskool Pink Glo Worm Stuffed Lullaby Toy

Much like the Cabbage Patch doll, the Glo Worm will make parents feel just as warm and fuzzy as kids with the nostalgia factor. But beyond that, it’s still a great pick for the tiniest ones. 

It’s rated by the manufacturer for ages 0 and up, so babies can use this from birth through toddlerhood and beyond. 

The music and glow come in three different modes so you can adjust it based on what you’re doing at the time. 

The Glo Worm is also highly rated on Amazon, with the biggest complaints being malfunctions with the music or glow for a few parents.

Key features
  • Plays music and glows
  • 3 modes: Long-play Mode for 10 minutes of music and light, Short-play Mode for a quick tune with glow, or Glow-only Mode for quiet time

  • Washable
  • Manufacturer’s recommended age: 0 months and up
Pros
  • Has 3 different modes for playing lights and sounds depending on what baby needs
  • Easy to clean in washing machine
  • Nostalgic for parents
Cons
  • Not a realistic or traditional doll
  • The reviews were overwhelmingly positive, but some parents had trouble with music not playing long or the lights not working
  • Some parents said it is too small

Honorable mention: Stephan Baby Soft Plush My First Doll

If you’re looking for a first baby doll with sentimental value, this might be the best option for you because it has “My First Doll” embroidered on it. The dolls are quite pretty with multiple options in hair color and skin tone.

Best twin baby dolls: Melissa & Doug Luke & Lucy 15″ Dolls

Are you expecting twins, and want a matching set of dolls for your older child, who’ll soon be an older sibling? Or do you just want to scoop up two dolls as a deal? Whatever it is, this set is a great choice. They would also be a nice gift for a set of twins to share.

The dolls are adorable and are incredibly well-rated on Amazon.

Two negatives with this are that it only comes as a boy/girl set without options of a boy/boy or girl/girl set, and this particular set is only available in a light skin tone. You can purchase other outfits for the babies if you would like to change the colors of their clothes though. For darker skin tones, try this similar twin set that also gets great reviews at a slightly higher price.

Key features
  • 15” tall each
  • Eyes open and shut
  • Accessories included: A removable baby cap, romper, and pacifier for each baby

  • Manufacturer’s recommended age: 18 months and up
Pros
  • Includes TWO babies and all the accessories needed
  • Babies can suck their thumb and use pacifier
Cons
  • Pink and blue, so if you want two pink or two blue you would need to purchase additional clothing
  • One choice of skin tone

Best doll and stroller combo: Best Choice Products Kids 15-Piece 13.5in Newborn Baby Doll Nursery Role Play Playset 

Toddlers love pushing things. Shopping carts, walkers, and especially strollers. They love pushing their own baby doll all around the house and outside for walks with you. And this set seriously has it all! From the stroller to baby carrier to pack-and-play, your little one will be all set for some serious pretend play with this set.

Oh, and did we mention the doll is interactive too? It communicates with 10 interactive sounds and words. 

There aren’t a ton of reviews on Amazon for this one, but it has so many features compared to others that have more reviews that we would take a chance on this one.

Beware though. Although it doesn’t say so in the listing, one reviewer says it pees!

Key features
  • 13.5” tall interactive baby doll with outfit, poseable arms, and eyes that open and close
  • 15 pieces included: Baby, baby carrier, feeding tools, toys, pack and play, stroller, and more!
  • Manufacturer’s recommended age: 24 months and up
Pros
  • Tons of cool pieces included for lots of pretend play options
  • Doll is interactive and has more than 10 different sounds and words
Cons
  • Activating the interactive features can be complicated, according to one review

Best doll accessories set: Prextex 18 Piece My First Baby Doll Accessories in Zippered Carrying Case

Any parent knows it takes lots of tools to take care of a baby, and your little one will love having these accessories to take care of their baby too. With 18 pieces ranging from feeding accessories to a potty, your toddler will be all set for hours of pretend play. Plus, it all fits into a nice carrying case that can double as a diaper bag when you’re done. 

Most parents give this set a thumbs up, though some say it is cheaply made and not sturdy enough. But for the price point, we think it’s worth the risk.

Key features
  • 18 pieces included: Pretend lotion, shampoo, soap bar in case, baby powder, washcloth, bottle, a doll bib, 2 plates, 2 spoons, 2 forks, a pacifier, a sippy cup, potty, and more!

  • Manufacturer’s recommended age: 3 years and up
Pros
  • Cheap price point compared to some other sets
  • Carrying case for easy storage
  • Plenty of accessories for playtime
Cons
  • Not very durable

Best doll for toddler boys: Playskool Dressy Kids Boy Activity Plush Stuffed Doll

Playskool Dressy Kids Boy Activity Plush Stuffed Doll Toy
Cute and full of features that allows toddlers to practice motor skills.

Dolls aren’t just for girls. Boys can get the same developmental benefits from playing with dolls that girls can, and it also helps them learn to nurture so they will be even better brothers, friends, and someday dads maybe. 

This doll gets the top spot for best doll for toddler boys because it serves multiple purposes. Not only is it a cute doll to play with, it also has features that allow kids to work on fine motor skills and dressing. The button, zipper, and ties are perfect for learning independence and motor skills for both boys and girls. 

Key features
  • Buttons, zippers, and ties to practice dressing and fine motor skills
  • Machine-washable

  • Kid-friendly clip for easy portability
  • Manufacturer’s recommended age: 24 months and up
Pros
  • Great for developing fine motor skills
  • Easy to clean in washing machine
  • Traditional doll styling
  • A “boy” doll, but also has a “girl” version
Cons
  • Could include more activities and features like clothing snaps
  • Some parent found it too easy for their older toddlers

Honorable mention: Wonder Crew Superhero Buddy

This superhero doll definitely has the cool factor a little guy would love. The only reason we chose the other doll as our top spot was because of the multi-purpose nature of the extra features. This doll however, would be excellent for pretend play! Plus it comes in three designs with different skin tones and hair colors.

Honorable mention: Berenguer Boutique 15″ Soft Body Baby Doll

We chose this doll as our favorite for 3-year-olds; and while boys can absolutely play with pink dolls, the blue version works well as a doll for boys.


A Guide to Buying the Best Dolls for Toddlers

Choosing the best dolls for 1-year-olds

The biggest concern when choosing a doll for a 1-year-old is safety. At this age, they’re just as likely to chew on their favorite doll as play with it. (Hello teething!) This is a concern because if the doll has small parts that could detach easily, it could be a choking hazard. So be sure that you first and foremost find a doll that is recommended by the manufacturer for a child as young as 1-year-old.

Next, your little one must be able to handle the doll. It should be small enough that their small hands can grasp it and light enough that it doesn’t weigh too much for them.

For small toddlers, opt for a softer doll that will be a great snuggle buddy. You must supervise their play though because allowing little ones to sleep with toys can be hazardous if they roll over and the toy muffles their breathing.

Finally, consider where they are developmentally and what are their interests. A lot of toddlers this age go through the dumping stage where they love dumping out toys and putting them back in a box or basket. This doll set that narrowly missed our list might be a good choice for a baby at that stage. We also chose this doll as our top choice for 1-year-olds because it’s nice and cuddly, and it also has some simple and soft accessories for them to begin pretend play.

Choosing the best dolls for 2-year-olds

With 2-year-olds, you’ll still want to check the manufacturer’s recommended age range to ensure safety with dolls, or any toy for that matter. Toddlers who are even 2-3 years old might choke on small parts. So be wary still of any detachable pieces or small accessories included.

As your toddler gets older, they can begin to handle dolls that are not completely soft, like the one we recommended for 1-year-olds. This will give you more options for styles and designs, like the Cabbage Patch doll we recommend for this age

Also, a 2-year-old may start to interact with their doll more. So one that sings songs or talks might interest your toddler at this age. Plus, they will become more and more interested in pretend play, so accessories like a baby bottle would be nice.

Choosing the best dolls for 3-year-olds

Again, check any safety recommendations and the recommended ages for any dolls, but you’ll have a lot more choices at this age that are appropriate for them. Toddlers this age also have more developed motor skills and can carry larger dolls that weigh more than younger toddlers. So size won’t be as much of a factor as before.

Once your toddler reaches around 3-years-old, they’ll begin more and more pretend play. Their imagination is taking off, and you might see them pretending to really take care of their dolls and play out different scenes with them.

Consider getting a more realistic doll at this point that lends itself even more to pretend play and has plenty of accessories, like our top choice for 3-year-olds.

Choosing the best dolls for 4-year-olds

Almost all dolls, with a few exceptions, will be deemed safe for 4-year-olds by manufacturers. Children at this age range are probably a little more trustworthy with small pieces and accessories than younger toddlers, but of course, follow all safety precautions recommended by the manufacturer.

By age 4, children are really transitioning from being in that toddler phase, to more of a preschooler or kid. Their language is much more expanded, and they can probably create much longer and more intricate scenes of pretend play (think tea parties). 

The traditional baby doll we recommend for the 3-year-old age range will still be a hit with 4-year-olds. However, at this age consider a doll that is a little bit older, like this one. Many children can still pretend this type of doll is a “baby”, but it’ll also give them more options for play and dress up. It’s just a bit more mature, but still age appropriate.

Other features to consider

Some dolls are very simple, while others can come with many special features and accessories. Which one is best for your child will depend a lot on your parenting style and the development of the child. 

If you’re looking for more open-ended dolls that are quiet, go with something simple that doesn’t make a lot of noise and might come with some basic accessories like a bottle or feeding tools. This will probably also be the best choice for younger toddlers. 

But if your child is a little older and you’d like a doll with lots of bells and whistles to impress them, go for an interactive doll that talks, sings, and does the works.

Both the quiet dolls and interactive dolls will serve different purposes in your child’s play, it just depends on what you as a parent want for your child right now.

How will it be used?

While essentially all dolls can be used or pretend play and open-ended play, different designs will work best for different interests. If you’re looking for a comfort object or bedtime toy, a doll with a soft body would be best. However, if you’d like a doll that is for an older toddler for mostly pretend play, then perhaps a doll with poseable arms and legs would work better.

FAQ about Dolls

Are dolls good for toddlers?

Definitely. Toddlers love playing with dolls. First, they are cuddly and comforting for little ones just beginning to experience some big emotions or learning to sleep through the night. Second, dolls are wonderful for pretend play that has lots of benefits for child development.

What are the benefits of playing with dolls?

Pretend play, like playing with dolls, has benefits for children’s cognitive, social, and emotional development. It helps them develop their language, social skills, creativity and executive functions, and to self-regulate emotions. Playing with dolls and pretend play helps to develop the whole child.

Can boys play with dolls?

Absolutely. Most boys love playing with dolls. Boys and girls both benefit from the developmental benefits of pretend play with dolls, but it’s also a great way for boys to connect with their nurturing side and learn to care for others. 

When can babies start playing with dolls?

Babies can start playing with dolls as soon as they can grasp on to one. A soft doll like this can be used by a baby from birth and beyond as a comfort object or something new to explore.

Just be sure to check the manufacturer’s recommended age range for safety. Also, do monitor a baby playing with a doll as they can be a hazard during sleep for small babies.


Final thoughts

While some may think that dolls are old-fashioned toys, they’re classics that have endured since the olden ages for good reason. We hope our guide to the best dolls for toddlers have helped you find the perfect one for your child for their stage of development.

For more doll-related toys, check out our list of the 14 Best Dollhouses.

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