Reborn baby dolls. What’s the big deal?

Reborn baby dolls are becoming popular not only among women looking to fill the void of childlessness, but to parents mourning the loss of their child. This week 'Carte Blanche' investigates the trend behind this growing phenomenon - which has divided the opinion of many psychologists just as it has charmed its way into the hearts of grief-stricken consumers.


‘Hand Applied Eyelashes’. ‘Hand-rooted soft Mohair – sealed from inside’. ‘Moving limps’. These are just some of the catchy descriptions that accompany the lovely on-display dolls that we are told need to be cuddled just like the real babies they resemble. 

Selling from little as R400 from South Africa’s leading e-commerce retailer Takealot to a whopping R7000 for customized imports, these special life-like dolls are made up by artists from precast silicone kits.

Their bodies are weighted, painted and named to look and feel just like human infants. Those who make and buy reborn baby dolls at a hefty price say they bring untold joy, acceptance and healing.

Reborn dolls – not a new concept

The concept of realistic dolls is not something new. Back in 2008, a BBC documentary showed a married woman in her 40s, who regretted not having a baby while still in her 20s. In it, she explained how she first got sold to the idea, saying “reborns never grow out of their clothes, never soil them. It’s just fabulous. The only difference, of course, is these guys don’t move.”

Meet Jericho, the doll in M. Night Shyamalan’s thriller ‘Servant’

However, just as a recent plot of Apples TV show Servant depicts, some psychologists have argued that the practice could be harmful and hinder those dealing with overwhelming feelings of grief or loss of a child from accepting reality.

A must watch!

Spending time with families as they live and love, bath, dress, feed and take their babies on outings, this Sunday (November 15) on M-Net (DStv 101), ‘Carte Blanche‘ takes a deeper interest into this growing phenomenon, and examines how reborn baby dolls have become the surrogate children of the 21st century.

Watch this week’s episode of Carte Blanche here!

*For our previous coverage of Carte Blanche’s recent episodes, click here.

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Tankiso Komane
A Tshwane University of Technology journalism graduate, Tankiso Komane has a vast experience in print & broadcast media business and has worked for some of the country’s biggest daily newspapers, including The Sowetan, The Citizen, The Times, and The New Age. Through her varied work as a journalist, notably as a copywriter for SABC1 (On-Air promotions) and as a publicist for Onyx Communications, she has developed an in-depth understanding of the nature of the media business and how to use it for the purpose of exposure. Her expertise in journalism across various disciplines, coupled with a good reputation, has laid the foundation of a new kind "trust in Journalism" as the media ecosystem continues to digitally evolve.