13 of the best dolls

From baby dolls that cry (and wee!) to fashion dolls and rag doll doctors, these are the top toy dolls for babies, toddlers and older children to cuddle and care for – including our Toy Awards 2019 winners

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Toy Awards Best Dolls

Little girls and boys (and quite a few bigger ones, too) love to play pretend, and a doll is a classic make-believe toy – not to mention special friend and cuddle companion.

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While price – and the number of accessories they come with – are important factors to consider, you should also check the age the doll is most suitable for.

Whether your child prefers a simple fabric option with a soft tummy or a glamorous fashion model, there are plenty of great dolls to choose from.

Here’s our pick of the best 13 dolls, as tested and rated by children…

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1. Cry Babies Kristal, £49.99 – best for a doll you can take care of

Age: 3 and up
Awards: MadeForMums Toy Awards 2019 Best Doll – Gold

What it is: A 34cm onesie-wearing doll with moveable arms and legs, who is sick and needs taking care of. She will cry real tears if you take away her dummy – and makes cute gurgling noises when you soothe her. If she gets a cough, give her medicine. If she gets a fever, dab her forehead with a wet cloth. When spots appear on her face, give her an injection. 6 accessories included; a dummy, a stethoscope, an injection, a cloth, cough syrup and a thermometer. Batteries included.

Why we love it: OK, so hands up: we first thought these dolls, with their over-sized heads and enormous eyes, were a bit yuk. But then we saw our child testers collectively lose their hearts to these onesie-clad wailing wonders, and we changed our minds completely.

Emma, MFM reviewer and mum to Erin, age 4, says, “My daughter is a doll girl. It is the first thing she’d choose if she had money to spend. And, with a toy that is as interactive as Cry Babies Kristal, I definitely wouldn’t begrudge paying around £50. A doll like this would be a main Christmas present-type gift. I find my that my daughter really likes to ‘play mummy’ with her dolls, and this adds a little extra to it. Your baby cries, as babies do, and you need to work out why she is sad. Does she need medicine, an injection? Maybe take her temperature and listen to her heartbeat? It adds a caring aspect which is very cute to watch and encourage.”

And Emma, mum to Archie, age 5, says, “Who says dolls aren’t for boys?! My 3-year-old son loved this doll. What I loved most was it also captured the attention of his 5-year-old brother – they loved quickly finding the equipment they needed to help Kristal stop crying. My 3-year-old picked her up and sang ‘Hush Little Baby’, and also said ‘Look, she has tears!’ Easy compartment at the back of the head to fill with water in order for the baby to cry. Overall, a great doll that I would recommend, it brings out the caring and nurturing side of children.”

Available from: Smyth Toys, Argos and Very

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2. Kindi Kids, £25 – best for standing doll

Age: 3 years +
Awards: MadeForMums Toy Awards 2019 Best Doll – Silver

What it is: This standing doll (height 25.4cm) has big, glittery eyes and a head that bobbles as she moves. Each different version ‘eats’ the snack that comes with it, such as a cupcake or an ice cream. It has changeable clothes and removable shoes. Comes in ‘Jessicake’, ‘Peppa-Mint’, ‘Donatina’, ‘Marsha Mello’ and ‘Rainbow Kindi’.

Why we love it: This isn’t just a doll – it also has a YouTube channel. It comes with lots of accessories that it interacts with, and our child testers loved her. Steffi-Louise, MFM reviewer and mum to Isabelle-Louise, age 3, says, “My daughter played with it for hours in one sitting and was reluctant to share with her brother, who also loved it.”

Available from: Argos

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3. Our Generation Holiday Haven Doll, £30 – best for dressing up

Age: 3+

What it is: A 46cm tall, soft-bodied doll from the Our Generation range, dressed in a white dress, gold bolero jacket, pearl headband, white tights, white and gold shoes, and even underwear.

Why we love it: She’s just beautiful and we love how she’s all dressed up for a celebration. The sort of doll your child would treasure – and her hair is lovely to play with.

As part of the Our Generation range, there are a host of accessories and outfits you can buy if you want to build up a collection, from scooters, wheelchairs and bowling alleys, to school uniforms and pyjamas.

Available from: Smyths and Debenhams

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4. Chad Valley Tiny Treasures Baby Doll with Closed Eyes, £50 – best for realistic baby dolls

Age: 3+
Awards: MadeForMums Toy Awards 2019 Best Doll – Joint Bronze

What it is: A life-like closed-eye doll, with a pink babygro, a matching hat, a hospital bracelet, and a fleece comforter blanket with floppy ears and a tail. She has brown hair and realistic eyelashes. She also comes with a birth certificate for you to fill in and is packaged in a box that can be used as a crib. If you hold her close, you will hear a heartbeat sound. Batteries required: 2xAAA (not included).

Why we love it: This pretty doll looks so lifelike! We can imagine it being the perfect present for your little one before they become a big brother or sister. Like a lot of dolls on this list, we wish it came in a variety of skin tones and hair colours, though. Mollie, MFM reviewer and mum to Oscar, age 4, says, “Love the idea that it comes with a hospital bracelet, a nice cute little touch.”

Sarah Mason, MFM reviewer and mum to Lana, 3, says, “This doll smells wonderfully like a newborn. It is gentle to cuddle and the heartbeat is a sweet touch, though it turns off too quickly. The nappy is a great addition, and my daughter is using our own stash of newborn cloth nappies on her, which look adorable.”

Available from: Argos

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5. #Snapstar, £17.99 – best for online interaction

Age: 5 years +
Awards: MadeForMums Toy Awards 2019 Best Doll – Joint Bronze

What it is: 6 dolls (each sold separately) with interchangeable hairstyles, matching accessories, adjustable doll-stands and green screens. The dolls (25cm tall) come with a free app that allows you to make over your doll.

Why we love it: We were a little unsure about a doll that is a social-media superstar at first – as if that profession needs any more glamorising! But our child-testers really loved it. And we liked the diversity of the dolls and how you can interact with the doll with the app – we think the price point is super reasonable, too.

Michelle, MFM reviewer and mum to Leila, age 7, says, “My daughter absolutely loved using the app to take pictures using the green screen, and then changing the styles. She had all of her friends in the house showing them how it worked. As a parent, I think it’s great that toys can work alongside apps, and hope to see a lot more of these kind of toys in the future. I think it brings a lot more excitement to your usual doll play, and definitely gets the imagination going.”

Available from: Smyths Toys

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6. Baby Annabell Interactive Doll, £49.99 – best for an interactive baby doll

Age: 3+

What it is: A sweet-faced interactive baby doll who wets her nappy, gurgles, and sucks on her bottle or dummy with sounds and mouth movement. She also cries real tears, burps, yawns, falls asleep and responds to touch and movement. Requires 4 x AA batteries.

Why we love it: The lifelike noises were a real hit with our child testers, especially the burping! We also like that you can choose to have Annabell’s brother, Alexander, instead.

MFM child tester, Emily, age 4, says, “I play with her by putting her dummy in and giving her a drink. I like cuddling her until she goes to sleep, and like watching her close her eyes.”

Available from: Amazon and Smyths Toys

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7. Luvabella Newborn Interactive Baby Doll, £60 – best for real baby sounds,

Age: 4+

What it is: A cuddly, interactive newborn baby doll, with natural expressions, realistic facial movements and sounds. She’ll suck from her bottle, respond to your touch, and even ‘breathe’ as she falls asleep.

Why we love it: Great for little ones who love to care for their toys, Luvabella’s responsive technology and squishy body make for a cute combination. Our mini testers adored her from the start, loving her realistic sounds and movements.

MFM tester Rhiannon, mum to Dylan, 4, says, “My little boy absolutely loves the Luvabella Newborn doll, although he wishes it was a boy doll, as he has a baby brother. He talks to her all the time and likes that she gurgles at him.”

Luvabella Newborn comes with dark brown or blonde hair, along with a onesie, bow headband, interactive bottle and soother.

Available from: Argos and Smyths

Baby Alive Potty Dance Baby Doll

8. Baby Alive Potty Dance Baby Doll, £49.99 – best for encouraging potty training

Age: 3+

What it is: A poseable 40cm doll that blinks, drinks from its bottle, does a ‘potty’ dance when you hold her hand and sings while she wees. She can also say 50 phrases in both English or Spanish. Comes with comb, soap dispenser, bottle, reward chart and stickers, removable outfit and big-girl pants. Choose from different skin tones and hair colours. Batteries included.

Why we love it: Our 2018 Bronze winner is such fun – and you get a lot of great accessories for your money. We also really rate the switch that lets you choose for the doll to call you Mummy or Daddy – so boys can get fully included in the potty-training action, too.

Angela, MFM reviewer and mum to Amber, 3, says, “Amber really gets involved with this doll and is really excited when she’s doing a wee. She really listens to what the doll is saying and, when she asks for a drink, she’ll say ‘Quick, Mummy, fill up her bottle!’ Her face lights up when the doll requests her to do things. And I love the fact you can get the doll to say Mummy or Daddy: that’s a nice feature. This is definitely a winner in our house!”

Available from: Amazon and Smyths Toys

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9. DesignaFriend Patience Doll, £49.99 – best for dolls who can get their hair styled

Age: 5+

What it is: One of a range of big (46cm), beautiful, soft-bodied dolls, Patience is the one with Rapunzel-long blonde hair and a full vlogger kit. Comes tissue-wrapped, with a stylish outfit, and and a reversible vlogger studio scene. Her accessories include a desk and chair, laptop, camera, phone and tripod. There’s even a mini Designafriend doll for Patience to unbox! You can buy additional outfits.

Why we love it: That hair! It’s just so soft and brushable, made for hours of styling. She may be selfie-obsessed but she has refreshingly normal body proportions, despite being a teenage-girl doll for a school-age child. We also love the extra outfits you can buy: bang on trend but not at all Barbie-tastic.

Available from: Argos

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10. BABY Born Interactive Doll, £49.99 – best for interactive dolls

Age: 3+

What it is: A 43cm baby doll with 9 lifelike functions, including tears, eating and drinking, and wetting. Comes with 11 accessories including a bottle, nappy, food and a potty. Choose from 3 variations: girl, boy and multi-ethnicity. No batteries needed.

Why we love it: There’s loads of fun to be had getting the doll to wee, cry and feed, as well as changing nappies and giving baths (as she is fully waterproof).

Parents were impressed that all this functionality is included despite not needing batteries. Our child testers just adored putting her on the potty and seeing the results!

Available from: Very

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11. Betty Spaghetty (single pack), £15.65 – best for collectables

Age: 4+

What it is: A new version of the popular 1990s doll, Betty Spaghetti is all about her long hair and interchangeable outfits. Comes in various ‘character’ packs (skater, chef, princess, hula-girl, etc), each with a change of top and skirt, 6 beads, 2 hair clips, 3 elastic bands and a doll stand.

Why we love it: For a small doll (she’s 16cm high), Betty certainly packs in the play value, and we liked how normal she looks, compared to some other highly stylised dolls.

Our child judges had a lot of fun changing her outfits – and snapping on and off her bendy arms and legs! – but it was her hair they all loved the most, with all its plaiting and bunching and beading possibilities.

Available from: Amazon

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12. Tidlo 5 Wooden Superheroes Figure Set, £18.99 – best for superhero dolls

Age: 3+

What it is: A set of 5 superhero dolls, each 12cm, with brightly coloured wooden bodies, bendy arms and legs, and red capes. Includes 3 boys and 2 girls.

Why we love it: These pocket-sized superheroes are perfect for role play and can be used with dollhouses and toy vehicles. We adore the fact there are girls as well as boys – and they’re not wearing pink! The capes are super cute, too. A great unisex buy.

Available from: Babame and Mulberry Bush

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13. Bigjigs Doctor Tommy 28cm Doll, £10.99 – best for role-play dolls

Age: 12 months+

What it is: A soft rag doll of a boy doctor, complete with removable uniform and curly hair. Also available in larger 35cm and 38cm sizes.

Why we love it: Doctor Tommy just gives the best hugs! He’s super soft and perfect for role-play hospital games or just as a special friend. Your child will love undressing and redressing him – and you can buy extra clothes for his wardrobe.

Available from: Learning Space

We’ve got more award-winning toys here…

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This article contains affiliate links, which means MadeForMums may earn a small amount of money if you click through and buy. All our toy content is written independently (we’ll include the best toys whether we can include an affiliate link or not) and pretty much all of the toys are tested and rated by our child toy testers, as well as our editorial team. 

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