Making: Waldorf Baby Doll


Lupine loves babies. Real babies, doll babies, babies in books, animal babies, plastic babies. She has been begging for a plastic doll for more than a year and seeks them out constantly at thrift store and friend's houses.

Hm. The plastic doll.

Here is where I reveal my doll snobbery. I know. There is a plastic doll in your playroom, right? I'm not harping on you. Really. I'm just… not crazy about the plastic baby doll.

There are many reasons, some of which are aesthetic (why are some of they so creepy?), some of which are environmental (hello, petroleum), some of which are comfort-based (snuggling a poky plastic doll at night? Ouch.). But mostly it comes down to the imagination. Plastic dolls leave far less room for imagination than a more open-ended cloth doll – homemade or otherwise. Everything is right there at the surface – toes, fingers, wrinkles, belly buttons – and in some cases bodily functions, baby-sounds, and movement – even that strange baby powder-ish smell. There is little left for the mind of the child to shape on their own. 


I suspected that Lulu's plastic doll obsession might fade if I made her a Waldorf doll that was a baby – in its face, its form, its proportions, and its heft. I had this pattern on hand and with a few minor modifications created Lupine's Solstice gift. (I used a double layer of doll skin for a smoother, sturdier appearance, added a nose and pink cheeks, and stuffed her with wool and millet to create a heavy yet soft doll, akin to a real baby.)




I think she's perfect. (So does Sage, that tough eight year old boy, who has been begging for his own ever since Solstice.)

And she took me only a few evenings to complete. Really. Dolls are amazingly easy once you get over the fear that you might mess it up. And hey, if you ever want to learn I'd love to teach you how if you're ever in the neighborhood.

Yes, the new doll is definitely a baby, but leaves so much to the young imagination. Lupine named her Bluebell and calls her "my real baby".

Take that, creepy plastic doll.

26 thoughts on “Making: Waldorf Baby Doll

  1. brooke says:

    My daughter got a cheap plastic doll for Christmas from a grandma (no matter how much I say please, don’t… it still happens) and she carries that ugly thing around daily. I have even resorted to calling it the ugly baby. She has a waldorf style doll that is beautiful, but I might need to make a littler baby one. Bluebell is just adorable though. Maybe it will happen in the near future!

  2. Kasey Love says:


    I completely understand where you’re coming from with the plastic doll debate. Your reasons for hesitation are valid, and I am deeply impressed with the amount of thought and concern you put into the toy and product choices you surround your children with. I admire you and wish more mothers put as much thought into the simple things as you do.

    However, I do disagree with you on one point. When I turned 5 my mother allowed me to play with Barbies for the first time. Before that age I was only allowed to play with simpler baby dolls (not Waldorf dolls but I think you know what I mean) and I LOVED them. My Barbies and my baby dolls quickly became playmates and went on grand adventures together. These adventures ranged from imaginary towns, farms, jungles and anywhere else my mind could conjure, and that lasted for hours.

    Because I was maturing, so was the imaginative play that my playthings participated in. I do not believe I was missing anything just because my dolls had fingers and toes. In fact in my opinion it was a nurturing feeling to have dolls that could smile back at me.

    I currently work in an early childhood preschool centered around imaginative play. I have had much time to observe an array of children’s play and throughly believe that variety in play objects can only enhance a child’s imagination. I think of it a bit like cooking. You can make amazing dishes with simple ingredients, but think of everything you could do if you had a wide range of ingredients to choose from!

    I do not have children of my own yet, and I foresee myself struggling with the same problem your facing right now. PLEASE OH PLEASE keep the Waldorf traditions alive, but don’t stress so much about the plastic doll. In my opinion, Lupin won’t be scarred by playing with a plastic baby doll, because whether a child is playing with a corncob wrapped in a tissue, a Waldorf doll, or a Barbie their imaginations are always hard at work. I hope my thoughts have been helpful. Happy Holidays!

  3. Kasey Love says:

    One more thing… I realized that another huge factor about the doll debate is the products that go into plastic toys these days. So many are massed produced in China out of who-knows-what. So here is a website that offers cleaner, more eco-friendly plastic dolls. These dolls are made in the last remaining doll factory in France (which in my opinion is enough of a reason to support them). All of their dolls are made of pthalate-free vinyl and many come with with clothing made of biodegradable bamboo. Not a perfect solution, but A LOT less worrisome. Plus they are just so dang sweet! The website is in french but nothing an online translator can’t fix, and I think their sweet little faces speak for themselves anyway. Enjoy!

  4. Casey says:

    Such a sweet baby! My Donnie has a Waldorf baby (made by Dragonfly’s Hollow) that is very much a baby. I love the slight heft (she uses sand in the belly) and the proportions. I’m not a fan of plastic dolls either, never have been — as a child I took the clothes off my dolls and dressed my stuffed animals.

  5. MaeKellan says:

    What a gorgeous baby.
    I myself have no issues with plastic dolls. My daughter has a box full of barbies that were mine and my sisters from our childhood and a plastic baby doll that was also passed down from my husbands Nan. She also has waldorf babies and teddy bears which are played with equally.

    She has the best imagination possible because we allow her too, in my opinion its not what toys you give to your child but the way you parent that allows them to have an imagination.

    I do however appreciate your views and know that you appreciate ours also.
    I love my daily visits over here, thank-you Rachel.

  6. Robyn says:

    I love the new baby…so sweet! I made my daughter’s waldorf doll from a kit i bought from Weir Crafts. the kit made it seem less intimidating, but i’d like to make my next one from scratch myself. do you recommend any books?

  7. Rachel Wolf says:

    That is hilarious. Ugly Baby is rather endearing. 🙂 Ive been so blessed by grandparents who dont often cross that line into toys we despise. Keep working on them!
    ~ Rachel

  8. Rachel Wolf says:

    Hi Kasey,
    Thank you for your thoughtful comments! I understand and agree with your point that rich creative play can happen with any type of toys – detailed or not. Personally, my obsession was plastic strawberry shortcake dolls and Adventure People as a kid and the creative play we did was phenomenal. I do still believe that for a pre-schooler the more open ended the better, thought that is not to say that open-ended is the only place where creativity dwells.

    Oh, and full disclaimer: I bookmarked the french plastic doll website (for when shes older). If one is to get a formed doll that would be the one! Thanks for the lead.

    Many blessings,

  9. Rachel Wolf says:

    Thank you for your thoughts MaeKellan. I do appreciate the different vantage points that we each bring to this place. You make a wonderful point that parenting is more important than the things that our children use for play.

    All the best,

  10. Rachel Wolf says:

    That is one aspect I never mentioned – that there is something so priceless about creating with our own hands and then watching them love what we have made. Maybe that is really the point of it after all.
    ~ Rachel

  11. Laura says:

    Barbie, schmarbie, go Rachel! I read that one of the major flaws of plastic-type dolls is that they really do encourage the kids to pull the limbs apart…just cause they can. Bluebell is so sweet, you did a great job!

  12. nannergirl says:

    Ohhh I love Bluebell. My girls have a lot of handmade toys and they love them. Yes, they have a few plastic toys too, but there is something special about toys that Mama or someone else has made. It’s the way I feel about my own handmade slippers, I appreciate that love and time that someone put in. My oldest now asks for certain things when I make her a doll, maybe brown hair like hers or a certain type of dress. It makes the toy even more special. Thanks for sharing the link.

  13. Julie says:

    You made such a quality doll. My blogger pal, Messyfish also made a Waldorf doll for her son also! I will tell her about your blog…I think you two would sincerely appreciate each other!

    Am loving reading your blog. I am a 54 year old grandma helping to raise my 2 and 6 year old grandkids in my home.

    I found you from the article you did (or post, not sure) on making a felt book! Thanks for that, BTW…it is nearly impossible to find any info on how to sew plastic onto felt (or any ideas for how to attach photos (transfer paper, or otherwise). I am attempting to make a felt book for my DIL (along with the kids assistance) for their 32 year old mommy. I really appreciate your assistance!!!
    Julie in Florida

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