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10 of the best dolls

From baby dolls that cry and wee to fashion doll with fierce outfits, these are the top toy dolls for babies, toddler and older children to cuddle and care for

best-dolls

Little children (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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Dolls come in a variety of shapes and sizes – and prices. Some are floppy and cuddly and simple; others are clever, interactive and have umpteen accessories. Most of them are still very white with very pink outfits, we have to say, although we’re pleased to have noticed a few more black dolls and boy dolls, and even some dolls with disabilities, in recent months.

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

1. DesignaFriend Billie Doll, £25

Age: 5+

What it is: One of a nicely diverse range of big (45cm), soft-bodied dolls, Billie has extra-long pink hair tied up in a ponytail. Comes tissue-wrapped, wearing a blue dress, pink pumps and a sparkly silver bum bag. Includes a silver charm bracelet for your child.

Why we love it: That hair! It’s just so silky soft, made for hours of brushing, and all our child testers set to with much hairstyling gusto. Her The only quibble we have is that, although this doll is intended for primary-school aged children, the lace-up pumps are still quite fiddly to put on and get off without adult help.

Available from: Argos

2. John Lewis My First Baby Girl Doll, £12

Age: 18 months+

What it is: A 30cm-high soft-bodied doll with plastic head and limbs, and closing eyes. Comes dressed in a romper and a hat with bunny ears. Also available as a boy version (with bear ears) and as twins.

Why we love it: She’s very soft, cuddly and well made – and her clothes come off and can be washed. Some of our child testers’ parents though her stare is perhaps a little unnerving but we think she’s a great-value buy for a toddler.

Available at: John Lewis

3. Our Generation Holiday Haven Doll, £30

Age: 3+

What it is: A 46cm tall, soft-bodied doll, with open and close eyes, dressed in a white dress, gold bolero jacket, pearl headband, white tights, pants and white and gold shoes.

Why we love it: She’s just beautiful, as we’ve come to expect from every doll in the Our Generation range, and we love how she’s all dressed up for a celebration. The pants and tights were a huge hit with our toddler and preschooler child testers and they all commented on the softness of her long black curls – although, for a black doll, it’s a shame she has blue eyes.

Available from: Smyths Toys, Mulberry Bush and Toys UK

4. Luvabella Mealtime Magic, £64.99

Age: 5+

What it is:  A 30cm-high interactive doll with a moveable mouth and tongue, a light-up smart spoon that can be ‘dipped’ into the ‘food’ flavours on the double-sided tray and then ‘fed’ to the – who’ll recognise it and and react with over 70 sounds, phrases and facial expressions. Comes with a bottle-pacifier. Choose from Mia (white) or Maya (black). Requires 4 x AA batteries (included) and 1 x AAA battery for the spoon (not included).

Why we love it: This doll has very lifelike expressions and does everything from giggling to burping to blowing raspberries but it’s definitely most fun to hear her identify the food she’s fed (although our child tester was a bit puzzled when she slipped up once and mistook strawberry for broccoli), and we’re really tickled by the faces she pulls at the different flavours. We picked this for our Top 100 Xmas Toys list.

Available from: Smyths Toys, Argos and The Entertainer

5. BABY Born Soft Touch Girl Doll, £45

Age: 3+

What it is: A 43cm-long 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. No batteries needed.

Why we love it: There’s loads of fun to be had getting this doll to wee, cry and feed, as well as changing her nappies and giving her baths (she is fully waterproof). Parents of our child testers were impressed that all this functionality is included despite the doll not needing batteries. Our child testers just adored putting her on the potty and seeing the results! (There used to be a boy doll and ‘multi-ethnic’ doll in this range but both are now sadly discontinued.)

Available from: Argos

6. Kindi Kids Shiver ‘n’ Shake Rainbow Kate, £39.99

Age: 3+

What it is: A recent addition to the popular Kindi Kids range, this 25cm-tall interactive doll who’s not feeling very well: she shivers and shakes when picked up, then reacts when you check her temperature, feed her and hug her better. She has over 40 phrases and sounds, and comes with a thermometer, stethoscope, blanket, water tray, mini swab towel, spoon and sticker sheet. Requires 2 x AA batteries (included).

Why we love it: Our 4-year-old child tester Chloe loved giving her poorly Kate doll her medicine and really like Kate’s different sayings and sounds – especially her burps and farts! It’s quite a noisy toy but you can turn the sound off. The accessories are nicely though through and we really like how the plaster on Kate’s leg disappears when you gently rub it with a damp cloth. We chose this for our Top 100 Xmas Toys list list.

Available from: Argos and Smyths Toys

7. Baby Annabell Alexander, £59.99

Age: 3+

What it is: A brother to the perennially popular Baby Annabell, Alexander is a 43cm-high soft-bodied doll with plastic limbs, dressed in a blue (of course) sleepsuit. He drinks real water, cries tears, wets his nappy, and giggles when tickled. Comes with a bottle, dummy, bib and pendant. Requires 3 x AA batteries (not included).

Why we love it: He’s cute and soft and a good size to cuddle and some of the sounds he makes are very convincingly babylike – especially when he sucks on his bottle or dummy. Some of our child testers’ parents found his crying quite loud – but you can at least turn the sound off. We like the way he yawns and falls asleep when you rock him.

Available from: Smyths Toys, Argos and ELC

8. LOL Surprise! OMG Fashion Doll Busy BB, £31.99

Age: 3+

What it is: A 31cm-tall, hard plastic articulated fashion doll with enormous eyes and long, curly pigtales that comes with 20 surprises to be unwrapped – including extra clothes, shoes, purse, hairbrush, garment bags, make-up accessories, a doll stand and chair. Her box turns into a dressing room playset.

Why we love it: With all LOL Surprise dolls, it’s all about the excitement of unwrapping all the accessories but we do like this doll’s ‘fierce’ vibe and the way you can resuse her box as a playset. Our child testers did find her clothes a bit tricky to remove – although they didn’t all realise you can remove her hands (and reattach them) to make dressing up easier.

Available from: Smyths Toys

9.  Baby Alive Potty Dance Baby, £49.99

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 and Spanish. Comes with comb, soap dispenser, bottle, reward chart and stickers, removable outfit and big-girl pants. Previously available in a range of skin colours but now only available as Baby Blonde. Requires 4 x AA batteries (included).

Why we love it: 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, mum to our child tester Amber, 3, was really impressed by how involved her daughter got with her doll. “Amber really gets excited when she’s doing a wee,” she says. “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!’ Definitely a winner in our house!”

Available from: Very and  Smyths Toys

10. Barbie Fantasy Hair Doll, £25

Age: 3+

What it is: A 30cm-tall Barbie who can be dressed in a unicorn or mermaid-themed outfit, each with its own crown and multicoloured hair extensions. Comes with hairbands, hairbrush and hairclips, and earrings. Choose from blonde or brown haired versions.

Why we love it: The rainbow hair pieces are lovely and definitely had the wow factor for our child testers. And we like the play variety you can get from mixing and matching her outfits. Barbie’s not everyone’s go-to doll choice these day but, if your child likes her, you get a lot for your money with this one.

Available from: ArgosSmyths Toys and Amazon

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