Dolls of the Year
Choosing Dolls to Fit Your Child's Developmental Stage
Posted: 2014-09-19 14:46:07 By: Joanne Oppenheim


little interest in dolls except at bedtime, when there was no sleeping without being tucked in with a handmade Veracruzian doll in traditional white lace gown brought from Mexico. Her grandmother and I foolishly bought the doll for a shelf collection of foreign dolls. Happily, affection won out over collection. For preschoolers collector dolls are a totally foreign concept. Dolls really do need to match your child's developmental stage. This season we have seen a number of potentially memorable dolls and as always the age of the child should dictate the best choice. Happily, the world of dolls is no longer narrow with blue-eyed blonde stereotypes. Now you can bring home dolls that reflect our multi-cultural world and your own child's unique beauty. Here are some of our top choices for toddlers, preschoolers, and school age kids.

Babies and toddlers



2013 Award
Corolle Babicorolle Babipouce Pink Cotton Flower Doll
(Corolle $36.99 Score: )

We're often asked what kind of doll to buy for a toddler. Corolle's line of Babipouce fills the bill as a great place to start in doll land. With all a soft fabric, huggable body and soft vinyl face (with painted featured), this is a safe choice for older babies and toddlers. The pink romper and coordinating velour hat (with knotted top) will be pleasing to the touch. Very sweet. Also available in all blue, 2010 Platinum Award winner, Babipouce Sky.


Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on




2013 Award
North American Bear Little Princess Happy Birthday
(North American Bear Co. $24.99 Score: )

Such a deliciously soft and cuddly 14-inch doll. She wears a pink velour dress with satin binding and a birthday cupcakes on the bodice and on her hot pink shoes. Her clothes are not removable, though she is machine washable. Her body is silky to the touch satin. Her ribbons are also permanently in place and have a different texture of grosgrain. Her features are stitched-on, making her safe enough for the youngest child. You can bring her home with blond or brunette velour "hair."

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on





2013 Award
Baby Abuelito Pancho
(Kids Preferred $27.99 Score: )

First let us say, this looks like few Grandpas of the past fifty years that we have known. Even Great Grandpas of today do not look like this steroptyical. That said, this is a cuddly fabric doll that sings four charming folk songs in Spanish with a squeeze of his hand. He is more photogenic, than the matching Abuelita doll, so don't be put off.  He's adorable in person, has a great singing voice, and his huggability factor is a 10! 2 & up.


Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on




2013 Awards
Bitty Baby Doll and book
(Pleasant Company $ 80 Score: )

15" soft-bodied Bitty Baby dolls with vinyl heads, arms and legs have been updated to allow for more options to customize. You have a choice of 11 dolls with differnt hair, skin and eye color combintions. Each doll arrives in a signature sleeper and a Bitty Baby & Me picture book. The updated doll now has a hairline brought forward and eyebrows for a more realistic look. The upper body was also redesigned with arms brought forward -- for better huggability. Beautiful clothes and furniture accessories available.  We also recommend the Bitty Baby Twins (boy and girl toddler dolls $115). As always there are extra outfits for the baby and matching clothes for the child. 

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2013.




2013 Award
North American Bear Dolly Pockets Goldilocks
(North American Bear Co. $24.99 Score: )

Dressed in a pink and calico dress with three pockets that hold the Mama, Papa and Baby Bear finger puppets, an all fabric Goldilocks is ready for acting out the whole classic story. Goldie has long blonde curls tied up in two bunches. Her features are stitched on and her dress is sewn on. A good choice for language development and recalling the sequence of the story from beginning to end. Try sharing the story telling to begin with.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on




2013 Awards
Groovy Girls Princess Ariana
(Manhattan Toy $20 Score: )

One of several new princess dolls in the Groovy Girls collection. We liked them all, but somehow the happy looking dark-haired princess seemed most refreshing.  Like all Groovy Girls she is soft and safe and totally huggable and lovable.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on


Early School



2013 Award
Journey Girl Dolls
(Toys R Us $39 Score: )

Another beautiful collection that rivals other more expensive dolls. We were taken with Chavonne, an 18-inch African American girl, she wears a satin ruffled party dress topped with a white lace jacket and matching bow in her luxurious hair. She is heading to Paris to see the sights along with the other multi-ethnic Journey dolls. Each has a soft fabric body and plastic legs, arms, and head.   


Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2013.




2013 Award
Corolle Les Cheries Cecile A La Tour Eiffel
(Corolle $51.99 Score: )

We want to be Cecile when we grow up - down to her two-toned Chanel-inspired ballet slippers. Ready to tour all the sights in Paris, Cecile is the latest addition to this Platinum Award winning line of 13" dolls that celebrate girls (not girls dressed up as women). There are additional dolls and clothes in this collection (happily, they can all share the same wardrobe).  Each comes with an all vinyl body and the signature scent of vanilla. Tre joile!

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on




2013 Award
Clementine, A Girl for all Time
(A Girl for all Time $134.99 Score: )

Clementine, is a 1940's English girl, with an instantly lovable wistful look, auburn hair, green eyes, and clothes from the WWII era. Her sheer green floral print dress has slightly puffy sleeves, a dainty buckled belt and a brown satin Peter Pan collar. She wears wonderful brown sandal-like shoes with mesh white knee socks that can be folded down. Her brownish red be-ribboned felt hat has a rolled brim and is a perfect foil for her lovely bobbed hair. As extras: we love her fitted pink coat with matching beret and she should be heading to Covent Garden or some such place in her lilac party dress that is topped off with a feather boa and party shoes to match. Clementine's story actually begins during the evacuation in 1939 wartime London. Newest of the Girl for All Time collection, she is 14-inches tall and totally jointed at the knees, elbows, and hips, making her easier to pose than comparable dolls. Like previous Girl for All Time winners, Matilda, a Tudor girl and Amelia, a Victorian girl, Clementine's details are noteworthy.  Designed for play, she and others in the collection will likely become treasured collectibles for the lucky few.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2013.




2013 Award
Lottie Kawaii Karate
(Arklu $19.99 Score: )

Our testers continue to love the active life style of their little Lottie dolls. Just 7-inches tall, with silky hair and painted faces, these are girls - not fashion dolls. They are jointed and able to stand. Just the right size for the hand or to fit for many doll houses. Each comes with a backstory that involves the girls in typical activities. This season Kawaii Karate Lottie is ready for class; her object is to win her yellow belt. Add separate outfits for Gymnastics, soccer or boogie boarding. Or consider a Lottie Robot Girl is entering the science fair and hopes to win with a robot she is building. Our Lottie fans also liked the Pandora's Box Lottie, who works in an animal shelter; Pirate Queen, a mariner Light House Keeper, and Butterfly Protector with her own net. Marked 3 & up, we think the fine motor skills for dressing and redressing these dolls will challenge kids under 5.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on




2013 Award
Prettie Girls Valencia
(One World Doll Project $22 Score: )

A new collection of fashion dolls has just stepped onto the runway. Inspired by her childhood love of Barbie and a career that started with designing dolls of color for Mattel, Stacey McBride-Irby has just introduced Valencia, a Latina from Mexico City and Lena, a Business Girl from North Carolina. Like women of color, the Prettie Girls dolls come in varying skin tones and hair. Valencia, the Athletic Girl is 11.5 inches tall and big on working out and other sports. She comes dressed for warm weather and an active life style. They say 3 & up, we'd say this is going to be better for 5's and up who have the dexterity to deal with the fine details.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2013.



Products for Infants
Products for Toddlers
Products for Preschoolers
Products for Early School Years
Products for Later School Years
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