At the age of 3 and 4 children tend to use their dolls for role play, especially being a little mum or dad, or acting out life experiences such as going to nursery school or playing in the park. I love seeing little girls out doing the shopping with their favourite doll in a pram or pushchair pretending to be a little mum themselves.
Many children of this age still very much love their baby dolls but are able to handle slightly larger baby dolls due to being a little bigger themselves, whilst others are ready to move on to slightly more grown up looking dolls with hair. After all, the children themselves are growing up and many respond well to having a doll that represents a child of their own age who can be a friend. Dolls make great friends because they always want to play your games, always do as they are told, are never mean or say horrid things, and they always, always listen!
What to consider when choosing a doll for a 3 or 4 year old child?
I would suggest reading through the list below and deciding which features are the most important to you and your child.
- Body Type: Ideally, the body of the doll is better if soft and cuddly with sewn on/dangling limbs without joints. The cuddle factor is still very important with many children taking their dolls everywhere with them including into bed. Floppy limbs also move easily which make dressing the doll and positioning the doll in pushchairs etc far easier, although some 4 year olds are more than capable of dressing a child doll with long vinyl limbs.
- Doll Size: With 3 and 4 year olds being larger in size and stronger, the dolls they are able to handle can be a bit larger too. As a guide, for 3 year olds, 36cm is a lovely size going up to 42cm+ for 4 or 5 year olds. Do consider the size of your child though as 48-50cm dolls are quite life like in size with of some of them being quite heavy. If your child is on the small side there is nothing wrong with buying the size smaller of 30-33cm.
- Eye Type: I think at this young age there is a preference for dolls to have eyes that close so that the doll is realistic and can go to ‘sleep’, but some of the makes below only produce painted eyes or fixed non closing eyes which tend to be very beautiful and more realistic than closing ‘dolly’ eyes.
- Functions: Lots of children love their baby dolls to have functions and we stock a few function dolls at Petalina. Many children enjoy the realism of a crying baby doll. However, some food for thought; a doll without functions will do anything that a little girl imagines they will do, whereas a doll with functions will restrict the play to what it ‘does’.
- Hair: Some little girls are very keen to have a doll with hair so that they can brush and style it. Just be warned that there aren’t many 3 and 4 year old girls out there who can care for a dolls hair properly – so your help is going to be needed! If you can get away with fairly short hair the doll will stay looking good for a lot longer.
There is a great deal of choice for children of age 3 or 4 so what I have done below is concentrate on baby and toddler dolls which are the most popular doll types for this age group. Some of you may want something even more grown up and there are some options, such as Gotz Precious Day dolls, but I am going to leave those to include in the next guide – the best doll for a 5 or 6 year old. Just remember that your little girl has lots of years ahead to play with dolls and there will be lots of birthdays and christmas presents needed. The dolls you give her now are more likely to be played with if they are age appropriate. Also, your little one won’t need so much help to dress their doll because the clothes as well as the doll will be designed for little hands with developing dexterity and co-ordination.
So which dolls and brands do I recommend?
We tend to recommend Corolle and Gotz more than any other brand for this age group because they also sell a good range of dolls clothes as well as many accessories to make role play more realistic.
Corolle is one of the top two brands that we sold at Petalina for several reasons. Their dolls are not only designed very well taking developmental needs into consideration, but the quality of them is superb. Plus, the dolls look beautiful, smell gorgeous and have lots of clothing and accessories available to add play value and fun.
They have many beautiful dolls for girls from age 3, all of which have vanilla scented vinyl heads and dangling limbs, and lovely cuddly fabric bodies. There are several baby dolls with and without functions in the range of Mon Bebe Classique (for age 3+), some lovely cuddly toddler dolls with hair called Grands Poupons and slightly more grown up dolls are in Ma Corolle (for age 4+).
In this picture you can see four of the 36cm non function babies. These are ideal in size for age 3 and there are always lots of accessories and clothes available for them.
Mon Bebe Classique Rose – Mon Bebe Classique Sparkling Cloud
Mon Bebe Classique Dodo – Mon Bebe Classique Graceful
Some children just love having babies that cry or laugh and Lila Cherie is perfect for these girls. She is a 42cm baby that giggles, sucks, coos and cries. Again accessories and clothes are available for these 42cm dolls.
Lila Cherie, Petalina’s most popular doll with functions
One of my favourite dolls in the Corolle range are the 36cm Mon Bebe Classique dolls with hair, now called Mon Grand Poupon. The dolls are now available with blonde, brunette and red hair. These are lovely chubby babies that have been cleverly shaped to enable them to sit up on their own (an unusual feature), plus they have lots of lovely hair to brush and arrive with a brush in the box. They are the same size as the 36cm baby dolls and can use all the same clothes and accessories. If ever a customer is looking for a doll with hair for a young child, these are the dolls that I recommend.
Mon Grand Poupon Blonde , Brunette and Red Head
Evie age 3 having a tea party with Mon Grand Poupon Brunette in a discontinued dress
In 2016 a new range of dolls were introduced called Ma Corolle for girls from age 4. These are 36cm cuddly dolls with lots of lovely long hair and slimmer bodies based on slightly older girls. The dolls have pale pink bodies printed as if their underwear, and they are available in several hair, skin and eye options. There is a vast range of clothes and accessories available so outfits can be created that their new little owner will love.
The Ma Corolle Dolls
Some examples of outfits you can create from the Ma Corolle range of accessories
The ranges of baby and toddler dolls for age 3+ by Gotz are really popular and the choice of the dolls available just keeps expanding every year. As with Corolle, Gotz are also very good quality that we highly recommend. Whether to choose Gotz or Corolle is just a matter of personal taste at the end of the day.
Gotz now have four sizes of baby dolls available: the tiny 20cm Mini Muiffins; Muffins are 33cm; Maxy Muffins are 42cm and Cookie is 48cm. All of the dolls have soft bodies with floppy limbs, and the larger three sizes have closing eyes in different colours and are machine washable. The Mini Muffins have painted eyes. The dolls are offered wearing different outfits with various hair styles, colours and eye colours. A very good selection of clothes and accessories are available for the Muffins and Maxy Muffins in these two sizes Gotz Baby 33cm and Gotz Baby 42cm, and there are a few clothes available in the 48cm size for Cookie.
Several of the Gotz Muffins 33cm in our range
Some of the Maxy Muffins 42cm available this year
They also have Cookie, a 48cm baby doll, and Cookie Care, the same doll but with a few functions. Cookie is quite a large doll, with a cleverly shaped soft body and soft jointed limbs to give her a realistic appearance. Cookie can wear small sized baby clothes too, and is also available dressed in blue.
Gotz Cookie and Cookie Care
Many customers ask me which make of doll is the best and which I would choose, either Gotz or Corolle. I think the deciding factors are the faces and the available sets of dolls clothes. Customers normally prefer one face type to the other. Both are as good as the other in terms of quality and reliability. So I find it very difficult to choose!
Kathe Kruse dolls are designed in Germany and made in Latvia. I have always called them the Rolls Royce of the doll world because the quality of the build and materials used create the most beautiful dolls, and the quality is really evident. When you hold a Kathe Kruse doll in your hands for the first time, they really stand out as something special. All Kathe Kruse dolls have hand painted faces and the baby hair is painted also, so no two are the same.
The first range of dolls to consider are the Mini Bambinas, which we have already mentioned in earlier guides as they are suitable for children from 18 months, but they are also fine for smaller 3 year olds. These are cuddly 33cm dolls. We really like the bath baby dolls too especially the ones with hair and these are the all vinyl dolls in the picture below.
Some of the Mini Bambinas and Bath Babies by Kathe Kruse
For girls from age 4 there are the delightful Gluckskind dolls, (meaning Child of Fortune) which are cuddly dolls measuring 39cm that wear the most beautiful clothes and have high quality wigs. There are a few extra clothes for them but not many. I can’t stress enough how lovely these are.
Slightly more unusual are Lolle dolls. These dolls have fabric bodies and limbs but with vinyl heads with hand painted cheeky faces. Lolle is a very long doll at 54cm but isn’t heavy and has the most amazing long hair. The outfits of these dolls are particularly well designed using interesting shapes, textures and colours. These are lovely dolls for age 4+ for children who like something a bit different. You can imagine them really enjoying going on endless adventures in their welly boots.
Kathe Kruse Lolle
Antonio Juan is a very successful Spanish doll maker and every year we would add more and more of their amazing range. All the dolls are made in Spain using soft to the touch vinyl with sparkly eyes and beautiful pastel cottons made into traditional clothes. I think our customers particularly love the realistic and pretty faces with long eyelashes. Until 2017 all the dolls had fixed eyes but this year Antonio Juan are testing a doll with closing eyes which is very exciting! There are many different sizes of doll with both cuddly bodies and all vinyl bodies, and many of the dolls have functions too. Some of them cry and need a dummy to quieten them, and others say ‘Mama’ and ‘Papa’.
The pictures below show just a small selection of the Antonio Juan range and includes some of our most popular dolls from 27-42cm with soft bodies which are the best for children of age 3 and 4.
Top: Petit Bebes, 27cm cuddly doll 3+ – Bottom: Peke Cojin Pink and Blue 27cm 3+
Bimba and Bimbo Pelele 37cm 3+
New! Sleepy Bimba and Bimbo Cojin 37cm 3+
Top: Amy and Melissa 37cm 3+
Bottom: Beni Dos Coletas 42cm 3+
Schildkrot make the most wonderful dolls and I am falling in love with them more and more. They are a very traditional Germany company and the dolls are still made in Germany to an incredibly high standard. They have several ranges of dolls that are perfect for 3 and 4 year olds which I have outlined below. The bodies of the dolls are made from velour and customers can order dolls with embroidery on the dolls chest of a child’s name and date of birth. Embroidery is free, delivery to Petalina takes 2-3 weeks and there may be an extra delivery charge.
Schlummerle are 32cm cuddly dolls with floppy limbs, closing eyes and some have hair. I love their chubby cheeks! We tend not to order many clothes from Schildkrot as they are so expensive but we do try other makes of clothes to see what fits.
Schlenkerle are 37cm cuddly baby dolls and these have traditional painted eyes and are really beautiful. Strampelchen are also 37cm with lots of high quality hair. These dolls are perfect for 3 and 4 year olds.
Amy is a new baby doll for 2017 and is 45cm, so a good size for age 4. They have really pretty faces with closing eyes. Love them!
Schildkrot also make the most incredible large toddler dolls including Hanni, a cuddly 45cm doll with lots of beautiful hair. Again, lovely dolls for age 4 with closing eyes.
Llorens was the first make we introduced after visiting the Nuremberg Toy Fair. At first we just sold toddler dolls in various sizes, with many different hair colours and outfits. These have proven to be extremely popular because they have such sweet faces, they cry and need a dummy and are made in Spain. Since then Llorens have introduced baby dolls and newborn dolls, and these have been incredibly popular.
A selection of the 2017 Llorens babies
Paola Reina make their dolls in Spain using materials sourced from throughout Europe and we are very impressed with the quality which is the best out of the Spanish brands that we carry.
Los Manus are 36cm baby dolls with cuddly bodies which fit Corolle Baby 36cm dolls clothes, and new for 2017 are the Piccolines, 36cm all vinyl newborn dolls.
There are also a range of dolls called Las Blanditas which are 36cm cuddly dolls with floppy limbs and lots of hair which are very similar to the Ma Corolle dolls. There is a slight difference in body size so the Ma Corolle clothes if a fitted style may be too small, but the shoes, accessories and looser fitting items would be fine.
The Miaculti babies are the ultimate baby dolls which have been made in Germany to an incredibly high standard. Called Real Effect because of the soft feel and appearance of the vinyl, and the realistic sculpting and painting, these baby dolls are just divine! Without doubt they were the most beautiful baby dolls ever stocked at Petalina and the best selling doll was Sofia.
Miaculti Real Effect Sophia
I hope you have found this guide useful and that it has introduced you to many of the dolls available that are suitable for 3 and 4 year old children. I have concentrated on dolls with cuddly bodies and floppy limbs, whether babies or toddlers, which tend to be the most suitable dolls for children of this age and hopefully you have been able to come up with a short list as a result.