How to Care for a Silicone Doll
Silicone dolls were "born" in the 1990s with the rise of the "Reborn Baby Dolls." From high-end, individualised dolls for little girls to collector pieces and even companion dolls, silicone dolls look, and feel, so lifelike you almost believe they are real. Some parents may choose a silicone doll to work through their grief at losing an infant, and a 2001 study by the Department of Gerontechnology at the National Institute for Longevity Sciences in Japan showed that silicone baby dolls can be used as a therapeutic tool for elderly patients suffering dementia. Regardless of the purpose, silicone dolls require a little basic care to keep them clean and realistic.
Swirl a clean make-up brush in baby powder, and apply powder to the entire surface of your silicone doll. Re-apply liberally whenever you dress your doll, after the doll's bath or cleaning and as often as it wears off -- daily if necessary. Silicone by nature attracts dust and hair, but baby powder helps resist this attraction. Powder also creates a more lifelike feel to the skin and keeps the doll smelling fresh and baby-like. Avoid using scented powders -- perfumes and oils may cause staining of the silicone.
Brush of loose dirt and hair, using a soft brush or cloth. Pay special attention to crevices and areas where dirt can hide, such as around the neck, underneath arms and around facial details. Use a cotton swab or similar object to clean ears, eyes and other small areas.
Bathe your silicone doll as needed to remove heavy dirt. Sponge-bathe the doll, using room-temperature water and a mild soap or shampoo. Gently stroke the skin to work away dirt and light stains, using a sponge, soft cloth, soft-bristled brush or your hands. Pay attention to creases and hard-to-clean areas. Wash the doll's hair, if applicable, with gentle strokes. Rinse soap off thoroughly using room-temperature water. Some silicone dolls can also take a bath in the tub, which is perfect for a child's bath time.
Lay your silicone baby on a baby blanket or a light-coloured, colour-fast towel or cloth to dry. Dark colours may bleed into your baby doll's silicone skin, and painted wood surfaces can discolour the silicone skin as well. Allow the doll to dry thoroughly before powdering and using.
Blow-dry your silicone doll's hair and surface on low and hold the blow dryer 8 to 10 inches from the skin, moving it constantly to avoid focusing the heat. This will dry your baby doll quickly.
Wash your silicone doll's clothes separately 1. Dry thoroughly before dressing your doll in them again. Wet clothes may bleed through and stain the silicone.
Brush your doll's hair, if present, regularly to keep it from snarling and becoming unsightly. Use a plastic-bristled brush to prevent hair damage and stroke gently.
Set a baby blanket or other soft, light-coloured blanket under your silicone doll when you set it down on any surface. Avoid setting your doll on any object that will leave an imprint on it; silicone will easily form to rough surfaces and even tear.
Move doll parts as desired, but avoid forcing them into position. Use gentle movements -- much like you are handling a real baby -- and use natural movements and poses. Harsh movements and unnatural poses can damage the joints or tear the silicone.
Store your silicone doll without any clothes or accessories for best results. Place the doll in a clear plastic bag and gently remove as much air as possible. Do not label the bag with a pen or marker, as the ink may bleed through and stain your doll. Take care in packing the doll to avoid creases and tears; place the doll inside the bag first, and then inside a box to prevent skin impressions and other damage.
Purchase a silicone adhesive designed for dolls to repair any tears. Consult product instructions for more details. Follow the specific care guide for your silicone doll for individualised care directions.
- Brooks Babies: Silicone Doll Care Instructions
- Vanessa Realdoll: Realdoll Care Guide
- Braden BA, Gaspar PM. Implementation of a baby doll therapy protocol for people with dementia: Innovative practice. Dementia (London). 2015;14(5):696-706. doi:10.1177/1471301214561532
- Mitchell G, Mccormack B, Mccance T. Therapeutic use of dolls for people living with dementia: A critical review of the literature. Dementia (London). 2016;15(5):976-1001. doi:10.1177/1471301214548522
- Mitchell G, Templeton M. Ethical considerations of doll therapy for people with dementia. Nurs Ethics. 2014;21(6):720-30. doi:10.1177/0969733013518447.
- National Public Radio. Doll Therapy May Help Calm People With Dementia. 2016.
- Scales K, Zimmerman S, Miller SJ. Evidence-Based Nonpharmacological Practices to Address Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia. Gerontologist. 2018;58(suppl_1):S88-S102. doi:10.1093/geront/gnx167
- Shin JH. Doll therapy: an intervention for nursing home residents with dementia. J Psychosoc Nurs Ment Health Serv. 2015;53(1):13-8. doi:10.3928/02793695-20141218-03
- Mitchell, G. and O’Donnell, H. The therapeutic use of doll therapy in dementia. British Journal of Nursing. 2013; 22(6), pp.329-334.
- Alzheimers Australia Organization. Guidelines for Use of Dolls and Mechanized Pets as a Therapeutic Tool.
- Ng QX, Ho CY, Koh SS, Tan WC, Chan HW. Doll therapy for dementia sufferers: A systematic review. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2017;26:42-46. doi:10.1016/j.ctcp.2016.11.007
- BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images