How to make a reborn baby doll

Written by chris verstraete
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How to make a reborn baby doll
"Reborn" a simple moulded baby doll to make it look almost real. (baby image by Dron from

For doll lovers, a reborn doll is as close to real as it gets. By taking the time to add new paint and finishing touches like new eyes, eyelashes and rooted hair, a plain moulded doll can become a work of art and look so real that you almost expect the doll to move. Finish the reborn doll using some simple tools and dress in regular baby clothes for a one-of-a-kind creation sure to become a treasured heirloom.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Simple moulded baby doll like a Berenguer baby doll
  • Moulded doll parts
  • Soap and water
  • Paint thinner
  • Genesis heat set or acrylic paints in purple, flesh, rose and white
  • Paintbrushes such as thick, thin and liner
  • Heat gun or embossing tool
  • Sponge
  • Acrylic or half-round flexible eyes such as Masterpiece, 10 to 20mm
  • Razor knife
  • Pale colour eyelash strips
  • Tweezers
  • Cement type-glue like Aleene's 7800
  • Tacky glue
  • Water-based varnish
  • Mohair for doll wigs
  • Hair rooting tool and felting needle
  • Scissors
  • Pellets or plastic beads
  • Baby or doll clothes

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  1. 1

    Begin with an already-made vinyl doll like a Berenguer baby doll or purchase a doll parts kit from a doll-making site. Wash doll or doll parts to remove any residue. Remove paint finishes on head or face with paint thinner; some doll makers recommend this over acetate nail polish remover.

  2. 2

    Practice painting techniques on an inexpensive doll first to see how much paint to use; gauge results, but mistakes can be removed if needed.

    Make the doll look real by painting thin, tiny purple lines with Genesis heat-set paints or thinned acrylic paint to simulate veins on the arms, head and back of closed eyelids. Make paint almost translucent and build up colour in steps to give the look of a real baby's thin, porcelain-like skin. Bake in a low-degree oven according to paint directions. Set Genesis heat-set paints with a heat gun or embossing tool if you don't want to use an oven.

  3. 3

    Paint skin a light flesh tone, applying paint by dabbing it on with a light hand, using a thick brush or sponge. Apply the paint in very thin layers, almost like a wash. Apply a light rose or blush colour to cheeks, face and body parts. Check baby pictures to see where a rosy colour looks best. Paint on light, thin lines to represent eyebrows.

  4. 4

    Remember to poke open nostrils so doll looks real. Push front of doll eye space to inside; cut a slit into the bottom of an eye socket with the razor knife, leaving a flap. Insert the eye into the "pocket." Move the eye to adjust and glue in place on the back of the eye at the flap. Remove manufactured glue from the pale colour eyelash strip. Dab strip with cement-type glue, wiping off excess. Insert into the socket with tweezers above the eye, and push in with a dampened toothpick, being careful to not get glue on the eye.

  5. 5

    Paint a thin white line on the ends of the toes and fingernails to simulate natural looking nail tips. Paint lips a blush colour. Coat lips and nails with clear, water-based varnish. Lips should have a "wet" look. Let dry before next step.

  6. 6

    Cut mohair into manageable lengths, then insert into the doll scalp with rooting tool and push in with the needle. Dab the inside of the head with tacky glue or cement-type glue, pushing inserted hair on the inner side of the head into the glue to hold. Work in small, thin sections; less hair is best for a newborn look. Wet and comb hair, then trim as desired. Study real baby photos to simulate hair styles.

    Assemble doll according to directions. Fill cloth body with pellets or plastic beads to give the body weight and a realistic feel. Fill arms and legs for weight if desired. Dress finished doll in real baby clothes or doll outfits.

Tips and warnings

  • Slowly cut with razor knife so as not to split doll skin or cut too far.
  • Avoid getting glue on the eyes so they don't mar or turn cloudy.

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