How to Make Your Own Demo Doll

Lesson
Materials

Making your own babywearing demo doll is an affordable way to get a doll for use on a babywearing course, to use in a sling library or as a Babywearing Consultant. You can even make several in different sizes. (In fact we’re not making them from scratch, we’re weighting existing dolls, which is slightly easier!)

Here’s what you will need:

  • A suitable doll – choose one that is about the same size as the age of baby you’re recreating. The one we’ve used is 18 inches (45cm long) which is around the average size of a newborn.  Usually a 3 month old would be around 22 inches (56cm) and a 6 month old 28 inches (70cm).

  • Rice, or another weighted stuffing. You can also use dried beans or sand (as long as the doll’s body material is thick enough). Usually I add at least 1kg of rice.

  • Extra stuffing – may not be needed but I like to weight the head so usually need some stuffing in there

  • Weights – depending on how heavy you want your doll to be, you may well need to add extra weight. I use non-lead fishing weights like these which offer around 1.4kg of weight (in 10 weights so you can use fewer or position them around limbs). See note below about ideal weight.

  • A replacement cable tie (you can usually pick these up cheaply from DIY & pound shops)

  • A pair of scissors.

Here’s the process:

First we snip the cable tie or cord that connects the head to the body. There should be a gap at the back of the head where you can insert scissors. Try to do this without snipping the stitching.

Carefully remove the head and place to one side.

Remove some of the stuffing from the body. This makes more room for the weights. You can add it back in later.

Start to fill the body with rice. Give it a shake to let the rice fill the whole body, including the limbs, if they are accessible. But don’t completely fill it if you are adding extra weights.

I’ve added 1kg of rice and still have space to add weights and stuffing. This is how it looks.

To make the baby heavier I am adding the fishing weights that I have wrapped (in a sock!). We add in the weights and arrange the stuffing so that the baby feels realistic. We are going to weight it to about 1.75kg, as dolls tend to feel about the same weight as a real baby when they have half the weight in them. The average newborn weighs 3.5kg so this demo doll should feel realistic. (Average weight of a 3 month old is 5.5kg and an average six month old weighs 7.5kg).

Once the weights are well arranged, finish stuffing. Don’t overfill as you’ll need room to put the head back on but I like to fill well to make the body feel sturdy.

I also add a small weight into the head. I pad the head out with stuffing first, add the weight (again wrapped in a sock) and then more stuffing until the weight doesn’t rattle around.

To reattach the head you need to insert the cable tie into the channel around the edge of the neck.

Carefully reposition the head, making sure that the cable tie sits in the channel on the neck.

Thread the end of the cable tie through the block and pull tight. Keep on pulling until it will go no tighter.

Once it’s tight, snip the end and tuck the cable tie into the sewn neck channel.

The finished doll

Add a nappy to create a better seat – a cloth nappy works well.

And dressing the baby means it will last longer and look more realistic.

Here are those instructions again in a video:

Please share pictures with us of your demo dolls and give us any other tips that you have found useful.