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

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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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Whether you prefer 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 12 dolls, as tested and rated by children…

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1. Cry Babies, £29.99

GOLD winner, Best Doll, 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards

Age: 3 to 5

What it is: A 31cm onesie-wearing doll with moveable arms and legs, who will cry real tears if you take away her dummy – and makes cute gurgling noises when you soothe her. Choose from 6 different characters, including new additions Dotty, Nala, and Lady. 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.

What our child testers made of it:

  • ‘I really like her as she moves and cries. She cries proper water and I really like the noise she makes when I put her dummy in. I love that she’s a tiger too [Nancy tested Nala, the Cry Baby in a tiger onesie]. I can play lots of things with her… She’s really fun.’ Nancy, 4
  • ‘Really lovely quality. Emily absolutely loves her doll, and I like how it encourages her to nurture and problem-solve to stop her crying. We will be buying another for her Christmas present, which is great as the price is on point, too.’ Jade mum to Emily, 4

Available from: Smyths Toys, Amazon and Asda

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2. Carousel Precious Newborn Emmi, £12

SILVER winner, Best Doll, 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards

Age: 3+

What it is: A newborn-baby doll with textured skin, hospital wristband and eyes that close when she lies down. Comes with a bottle with disappearing milk, a blanket, headband, nappy and romper suit.

Why we love it: This is a very sweet, simple, not-too-soft, not-too-rigid doll – and what a great price!

What our child testers made of it:

  • ‘Maddison loves this. She spends a long time playing with it, feeding it and changing its nappy.  It’s a very good toy.’ Debbie, mum to Maddison, 4
  • ‘This is a very good value doll. She is small, with lovely soft skin. Leah takes it everywhere.’ Lyndsey, mum to Leah, 4

Available from: Tesco (in-store only)

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3. Baby Annabell Interactive Doll, £49.99

JOINT BRONZE winner, Best Doll, 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards

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.

What our child testers made of it:

  • I play with her by putting her dummy in and giving her drink. I like cuddling her until she goes to sleep, and like watching her close her eyes.’ Emily, 4
  • ‘Overall a brilliant doll. The sounds are very realistic: we’ve all been tending to the baby’s cries! I was unsure at first about the price but Gracie says it’s the best doll she’s ever played with and she’s played with a lot!’ Sarah mum to Gracie, 4

Available from:  Amazon and Smyths Toys

Baby Alive Potty Dance Baby Doll

4. Baby Alive Potty Dance Baby Doll, £49.99

JOINT BRONZE winner, Best Doll, 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards

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: She’s 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.

What our child testers made of it:

  • ‘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 definitely a winner in our house!’ Angela mum to Amber, 3

Available from: Argos, John Lewis, Amazon and Smyths Toys

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5. DesignaFriend Arianna Doll, £49.99

Age: 5+

What it is: One of a range of big (46cm), beautiful, soft-bodied dolls, Arianna is the one with long, blonde wavy hair. Comes tissue-wrapped, with 2 outfits, and in a double-sided carry case that opens up to be her photo studio. Also includes accessories and photo props and a charm bracelet (for your child to wear). 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. Sister doll Ava was a Gold winner in our 2017 Toy Awards.

Available from: Argos

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6. Tiny Treasures Baby Doll with Closed Eyes, £49.99

Age: 5+

What it is: A lifelike newborn baby doll that slumbers peacefully with her eyes closed. Features super-soft hair, a newborn scent and a heartbeat that you can hear and feel when you hug her. Comes with a comforter, blanket, birth certificate and hospital tag. Requires 2 AAA batteries.

Why we love it: Lovely attention to detail in her features – and  we really like the fact that this doll’s packaging converts into a crib complete with safety straps.

Available from:  Argos

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7. BABY Born Interactive Doll, £49.99

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! Won a Bronze in our 2017 Toy Awards.

Available from: Debenhams and Very

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8. Betty Spaghetty (single pack), £15.65

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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9. Tidlo 5 Wooden Superheroes Figure Set, £18.99

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: Amazon and Mulberry Bush

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10. Our Generation Holiday Haven Doll, £30

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.

Available from: Smyths and Debenhams

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11. Monster High Finnegan Wake Doll, £29.99

Age: 6+

What it is: A merman doll from the highly collectible Monster High range. Comes with a moving wheelchair, backpack, goggles, yellow vest and racing gloves.

Why we love it: Finnegan is as cool as they come, with his epic mohawk, fin-tastic tatts, flame-wheeled chair and need for speed. For Monster High fans, he’s top of the shopping list, but we reckon he makes a fabulous buy even if you’re not.

Available from: Amazon

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12. Bigjigs Doctor Tommy 28cm Doll, £10.99

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 and Howleys

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13. Baby Annabell Milly Feels Better Nurturing Doll, £42.99

Age: 3+

What it is: A 43cm interactive doll that comes with 5 accessories: a thermometer, stethoscope, syringe, medicine bottle and spoon, all of which your child can use to interact with and care for Milly. You’ll need 3 AAA batteries, but they aren’t included.

Why we love it: It’s a good quality and also very purposeful toy that teaches kids how to be kind, caring and compassionate – and also shows them the process of someone being unwell, and then getting better. Milly’s cheeks will go read when she needs help, take medicine and even get an injection if needed. Seeing Milly feel better after they’ve looked after her is definitely a reward.

Available from: Amazon and Smyths Toys

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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