Why I Have Reborn Dolls Even Though I'm Staunchly Child-Free

Many find these dolls disturbing, some find them fascinating, and others (like myself) spend their hard-earned money on one of their own.

Reborn doll baby are realistic to actual newborn babies Sarah Richardson's Images, katrinaelena | Canva

Scrolling through TikTok lately, you’ve probably seen videos of disembodied hands squishing hyper-realistic silicone baby faces (or, um, pulling a tiny baby figure out of their mouths). Some folks find these dolls disturbing, others find them fascinating, and others still spend their hard-earned cash to have one of their own. 

@erdedale 😱😱😱the big baby ate the little one😭#baby#like #fyp #reborndoll ♬ original sound - erdedale

I am in the latter two camps as a proud “reborn parent” of two vinyl, weighted realistic baby dolls. After about a year of testing the waters in doll collecting with a cheap doll from Amazon and a higher-end Paradise Galleries doll, I decided to go all-in on a real reborn when my finances aligned with this option.


Although some folks might be embarrassed to publicly admit that they own dolls as a grown adult in their mid-twenties, I have no shame about it. These harmless dolls bring me joy and their weight gives me deep pressure therapy that’s more effective than the whole toolbox of coping skills I’ve developed in a decade of sitting on therapists’ couches. What’s not to love about that?

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What are reborn dolls?

In case you’re not aware of this fast-growing trend, reborn dolls are realistic baby dolls that are painted to look like real babies. They are also usually weighted to feel like a baby when you’re holding them. In certain settings, they are used for therapeutic purposes but most collectors have them because they appreciate their artistry. Some are silicone, some are vinyl, and most are objects of controversy as seen on the subreddit r/RebornDollCringe.


Within the reborn doll community, some folks think that you need to purchase a high-end original sculpt from a fine artist while others argue that replicas produced in factories are as valid as their pricey predecessors. Reborn dolls can cost between $200 for a “budget doll” and over $5,000 for a luxurious silicone doll. In short, they aren’t cheap or accessible for many people so I don’t blame folks for indulging their desire to have these kinds of dolls by seeking cheaper alternatives. Since reborn dolls were historically store-bought Berenguer baby dolls that artists painted by hand and weighted to their liking, I’m inclined to side with the pro-replica side but I digress. 

In short, reborn dolls are hotly debated and fiercely loved by those who engage in this hobby.

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Why do I love reborn dolls as a queer, child-free person?

At first glance, I’m the last person who should be interested in reborn dolls. After all, I’m openly queer, against heteronormative standards, and have zero intentions of procreating. When someone hands me a real baby, I tend to panic at the thought that I could drop them or be stuck with them when they’re crying without any skills to soothe them. Despite everything that indicates that reborn dolls wouldn’t be my thing, they’re my current obsession and I have some solid reasons why.

Firstly, I may not want a child or even a baby, but I’m not immune to the cultural phenomenon known as “baby fever.” While research backing hormonally based “baby fever” admits that it has yet to be replicated, being a person with a uterus in my twenties anecdotally shows me that many people around my age grapple with the question of whether they should have babies or not. 

For a lot of my rural peers, the decision is a no-brainer. As someone who is more progressive and lives in a higher-cost-of-living area, I tend to put more thought into this decision and I’ve concluded that I don’t want to have children. But that doesn’t stop my brain from occasionally trying to convince me that having a baby would be the most magical thing I could ever do. When my mind starts churning out dazzling images of tiny onesies and chubby baby cheeks, I grab one of my reborn dolls and leave a cuddle session feeling like my desire to procreate has dissipated.

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As much as I love holding my dolls and looking at them, I know that they aren’t real. No baby would ever be as silent or still or devoid of expensive needs as they are. That’s what makes reborn dolls so lovely and I’m not ashamed to admit that. Parents may tell you that having kids is worth it, but in my experience, they also tend to be the first to say that it’s hard unless they have a uniquely blissful situation.

Secondly, having reborn dolls feels like an act of feminism. While men can have expensive hobbies like collecting train sets or dropping hundreds of dollars on gaming systems, women are mocked for having a hobby of equal value. What’s more, many reborn doll owners are told that they should have a real baby if they love their dolls so much.

While this comment is ignorant for obvious reasons since a doll will never be comparable to a real child, it shows how people hate women enjoying things for the sake of enjoying them and want them to be oppressed by having a dependent. This might be a hot take, but in my experience, it rings true.

Being an unlikely reborn parent rocks

Thanks to listening to the weirdest part of me and getting a reborn doll, I feel less afraid to delve into even stranger aspects of myself. It might be odd or hard for some folks to understand, but it’s something I authentically love. If anyone judges me for having dolls instead of children, I’ll assume that they’re just jealous of my beautiful little collection.


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Maya Strong is a writer who has spent the last six years blogging about relationships, LGBTQIA+, mental health, lifestyle, and cultural commentary online.