Nurturing Pretend Play
- What: Baby Stella soft doll by Manhattan Toy
- When: 12 months and up
- Why: Cuddly, durable, and adorable
- Where: Amazon
I bought a Baby Stella doll by Manhattan Toy for my daughter when she started showing interest in pretend play with dolls, around age 2. She loved it, and I loved the soft features and appeal.
Baby Stella has arms and legs that move easily, so she can be propped into a sitting position without frustration. She can’t stand on her own, but neither can real babies, so that limitation bothers neither of us. She sports a bum filled with beans or some other heavier material, helping her to stay in position She fits into all the generic doll gear we’ve collected over the years, from strollers and suitcases to car seats and bike seats. The pacifier and bottle accessories attach via magnet, which I find fairly ingenuous.
All Baby Stella dolls include an outfit, and the clothes come off and go back on without a fuss. After three years of regular to extreme (dragging outdoors in the dirt, many trips in the tutu portion of my daughter’s rolling backpack) use, our Stella looks great. She’s a bit darker than she started out, but I’ve never made any efforts to clean her, though she has been out in the rain more than once.
My daughter loved hers so much she wouldn’t share, so I bought a second one for my son at around 18 months old. He loves it just as much as his older sister, and they love to play babies together. The clothes and accessories (diapers, bottles, pacifiers, clothes) interchange freely, and most doll clothes also work. Baby Stella measures about 15 inches tall, but now also comes in a 12 inch version called Wee Baby Stella.
The included diaper disappears like magic, so we have several more, and can generally rustle up at least two at any given time. I have zero sewing skills beyond reattaching buttons, but my mom also made a few extra diapers in just a few minutes.
You can score older Baby Stella dolls and clothes online or at local secondhand shops. We’ve added one baby and several outfits to our collection for a fraction of the price that way. The durable dolls show very little wear and make excellent candidates for passing down to other friends and family, should your child ever outgrow the baby doll stage. So far, at three years and counting, our obsession still lasts.
Baby Stella isn’t the cheapest doll out there. If you only need to find out if your child really wants a baby, you can spend less to test. But if you feel confident your youngster would love a playmate soft enough to snuggle, Baby Stella can’t be beat.