I get really scientific when I weight my dolls because I really want to achieve the most lifelike weight distribution possible.
First thing I learned about weighting: real baby weight on a doll feels much heavier than a real baby. The first doll I ever made was 7lbs and she was far too dense. I’m guessing that may have something to do with the fact that 7 lbs of mostly water feels softer and lighter than 7 lbs of glass. I needed to find the ideal doll weight.
That required research. About a year ago, I scoured the web to create a database of top selling reborn dolls. I had columns for the length of the kit in inches and the weight of the kit in ounces. Calculating some averages and ratios, I learned that the pros were adding about 3.5oz of weight for each inch of doll. So, for example, an 18” baby would weigh (18 x 3.5 =) 63oz (about 4 lbs).
The next question was to figure out how to distribute the weight. I started to experiment – literally! I found an abstract for a physics paper online that was published in 1860 called “The Static Moments of Human Limbs.” I'll spare you to gory details of how the experiments were conducted, but I will say that the data was great. The key finding for me was that the weight of each body part on the human body is proportional to its volume. In other words, if your leg is 4 times as big as your arm, it also weighs 4 times as much as your arm. So if I could calculate the volume of each baby part, I could calculate the weight.
So I got a big bucket of water, just like they did in 1860, and dunked individual doll parts in the bucket to see how much water was displaced. I did this for doll kits of various sizes because we all know that smaller babies are mostly head. I couldn’t dunk the torso because it is cloth, so I took enough measurements to approximate the volume as an ellipsoid. (With help from my materials scientist husband, of course ;)).
Turns out that a newborn gets 25% of his weight from his head – which is why you have to hold them so carefully. But a toddler is only 15% head.
I continue to use and refresh this data for each baby to make sure they feel lifelike in my customer's arms.
Hi! I am Kim. I've been creating dolls all my life. I started stuffing cotton balls into my mom's pantyhose when I was a little girl. Now I hand-craft dolls that look and feel like real babies.