TRIGGER WARNING! Some readers may find this post distressing.
‘Reborn baby dolls’ have become popular over the years, for their realistic looks, complete with hair made of mohair, veins, nails, eyelashes – and even a touch of saliva at the corner of the mouth.
Particularly popular in Britain and the United States, some of the ‘reborns’ are ordered by those mourning lost children.
US mum, Christina Keeler, 36, always loved playing with dolls as child, but like most girls grew out of the pastime as she got older. Or so she thought….
In 2015, Christina and her husband Bill, 41, found out they were expecting a baby. They were thrilled at the prospect of becoming parents, but their joy turned to heartbreak when they later went through the painful loss of their baby, shares Yahoo Lifestyle.
Even though Christina and Bill went on to have two healthy daughters, Grace, 4, and Joy, 2, Christina still had a longing for a newborn baby to hold, dress up and photograph.
“I found myself searching for the feeling of a newborn baby in my arms” she revealed.
At the same time Christina watched a documentary about reborn baby dolls and the people who take part in the hobby.
Christina researched the hobby on Instagram and bought her first reborn doll, Hannah Hope, in January 2021.
“I found myself looking at reborn baby dolls on Instagram almost obsessively. Eventually, I was brave enough to message an artist and asked how to purchase one of her dolls and my life was never the same after that,” she said.
Christina now has a collection of four dolls, Isabella ‘Izzy’ Sage, Isaiah Scott, Lennon ‘Lenny’ Levi and Princess, that she loves to dress up, snuggle with and take pictures of.
What started off as a hobby for Christina to seek solace and comfort in has now turned into a family affair with Bill and their two daughters actively taking part in roleplaying and looking after the dolls
Labelled as ‘freaks’
When Christina is out and about with her reborn baby dolls, most people are shocked to learn that the dolls are not real babies after mistaking them for real life newborns – something which is highly amusing for the Keeler family.
“I have in-laws nearby that completely disapprove of my hobby and have asked Bill to not support me in it. None of my friends or family have accepted my hobby,” said Christina.
Christina added, “I wish they would be happy for me and celebrate that I found something I enjoy. This hobby might be strange to some people, but it isn’t hurting anyone – it’s a harmless hobby that I wish we could normalise.”
Other women healing thanks to reborn dolls
A Queensland mum spent months preparing for the arrival of her twins and was devastated to find out, after hours of painful labour, that they were gone.
Some days, even leaving the house was too much, with the 44-year-old battling intense panic attacks that left her unable to move.
Then Kim discovered “doll therapy”.
Now whenever the mother-of-seven feels an attack coming on, she gets out her collection of ten dolls.
“There are lots of women who are using therapy dolls all across the state. They just don’t talk about it,” she told Kidspot.
“I had my tubes tied due to ongoing medical problems and it wasn’t something I wanted to do but I knew I had to.
“Knowing I will never have another baby or twins again left a hole in my heart.”
Her dolls help ease that pain.
Dolls ease this mum’s grief after losing touch with her own children
Another mum found reborn baby dolls comforting after she lost contact with her own children and suffered severe depression and anxiety.
“I grieve for my kids. They’re not dead, but I grieve for them, because I can’t talk to them. I don’t see them or hear them. I don’t know what’s going on in their lives. I am a grandmother of a little girl who’s three years old and I don’t know what she looks like.”
“I couldn’t cope. I kept crying all the time. I would just cry and cry and cry. I was getting more and more depressed. I started to get sick, really sick. My body was shutting down. “
She told Mamamia, “Three years ago, I got so desperate that one day I just typed “realistic-looking baby dolls” into Google and [Reborn doll artist] Annette Kravchenko’s videos popped up. I spent hours and hours looking at her tutorials and her babies that looked so real. I started to see if anybody around here in Western Australia had them. I found a lady close by who had a baby for sale on Gumtree, so I asked if I could go and have a look.
“The minute she put that reborn baby doll in my arms I just burst into tears. It gave me a nurturing feeling, the feeling a mother gets when she holds her newborn. The weight is the same as the weight of a baby.”
I used to get anxious when I’d go out in public. So then I bought a pram and I bought a car seat and I started taking her with me. I just hold her to my chest and it calms me down.
It’s changed my life completely. I’m down to three medications. Even my GP can’t believe it.
It is so heartbreaking to hear of these women suffering from such tragic loss. But it is also touching and beautiful to see what relief a doll can bring to them.