My 2 year old nephew Drew’s baby sister arrived in mid March. Sometime in February when I was playing with him one day I saw a doll in the toy box and it occurred to me that I might be able to use the doll to play with him and perhaps explore basic information about babies with him such as the fact that babies cry, drink bottles, need their diapers change, have to be handled gently, etc. I picked up the baby and began playing with it and tried to get him interested but he just didn’t care so I gave up and didn’t think anything more of it. A few days after his sister was born, I was at the Ronald Mcdonald house with him as his parents were staying there as the baby was in the ICU. He had met his sister, though. We were in the play room when he uncovered a doll and got visibly excited. There was a pretend car-seat and he put the baby in the car seat and said he was going to take her home. He ran and got a pretend steering while that we had found earlier and brought it over by the car seat and proceeded to pretend to take her home. He went on to feed her a bottle, cover her with a blanket and put her to sleep. Of course, I was completely smitten to watch him care for and nurture a baby doll, especially considering it was a brand new interest that seemed to have been spiked by his sisters birth. How cute!

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So, I thought I would look into getting him a baby doll so that he could take care of his pretend version of his baby sister while his mom was busy with the real baby. HABA sent me their 13 inch Aquini Boy six piece set for review. HABA just recently adopted the Götz line which is a german based doll maker. The doll I was sent is from the Aquini line which are designed to be water friendly (and can even go to the bathroom) but the other lines include Muffin dolls which come in a few different sizes and most of them have hair. All of the Götz dolls that have hair that is rather similar to our own in that it can be washed, styled using real hair tools such as curling irons and flat irons and brushed. So, their hair is much nicer than many other dolls and won’t snarl. They are also designed to be safe to wash by simply tossing them into a knotted pillowcase in the washer. To dry, lay the doll belly down.

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I thought that the Aquini boy doll would be great for Drew for three main reasons. One, is it seemed rather baby-like because it didn’t have much hair. I thought he would be more apt to pretend play with a doll that was baby-like than one that seemed like a child. I wanted him to be able to mimic taking care of his sister with the doll. Also, its hairlessness makes it more gender neutral (when clothed) so he can easily choose to pretend for the baby to be his sister or him, a friend, etc. The second main reason was the doll comes with a bottle and a potty, and being 2.5, Drew is at that age where going potty is a big topic and I thought it might assist him in potty training. The last reason was I loved how it was fairly basic and just an open ended toy. All HABA toys are open ended, and I love that. I’ve found that children tend to get many more play hours out of toys that they can pretend with in a variety of ways.  I love how this doll naturally offers a few play suggestions such as potty and bath time, but can easily be adapted to just about any situation that your child might experience in their own life and want to reenact with a doll.

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At 13″ long, this doll is a great size for Drew as he can easily hold it in both arms like a newborn. He comes with a bottle, potty, hooded towel, shorts, under-shirt and vest. It’s fairly detailed, as the hands have fingernails and lines across the knuckles, eyelash marks, and a belly button. He’s even anatomically correct. If you’re sensitive about this, you might want to be sure to get your child the doll that is their own gender.

The arms and legs are poseable but the head/neck are stuck in place. The vest and undershirt are held on with a strip of velcro that runs down the baby’s back, and the shorts have elastic around the waist,  so Drew had no trouble getting the clothing off and on by himself.

The only part of play that Drew needed assistance with was filling the bottle. Of course, many parents will view this as a good thing, haha. The bottle is one solid piece, so it does not open to be filled. Instead, there is a hole at the tip of the bottle nipple so to fill it you hold the tip under water and squeeze the bottle.

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To make the baby use the toilet, you hold him over the potty, put the bottle in his mouth (be sure to make sure it is in as far as it can go) and then squeeze the bottle.

All of the Götz dolls are designed for ages 3+ so Drew is a bit young for them but he rarely puts non-food items in his mouth anymore so I just keep a close eye on him. He was a bit frustrated with the bottle at times because even when it’s completely full, you can only squeeze roughly 1/3 of the water into the baby’s mouth by squeezing without having the bottle tipped and of course, to tip the bottle would mean to tip the baby in a reclined position. He also tended to forget (or perhaps not understand, I’m not sure which) that the bottle has to be really far back in the baby’s mouth before squeezing to prevent the water from coming down the baby’s face. But again, Drew is younger than the doll is designed for.

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The towel that comes with the doll is similar to a real towel in material but is slightly thinner, but it works fine for wiping up the drips of water when needed. Looking at the stitching detail of the towel you can see how realistic and well made it is.  Lots of modern day kids have hooded towels of their own, so the Aquini dolls can make a fun bath toy as well and can be played with during bedtime routines right along with your child.

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It has been nice to be able to suggest to Drew that he feed, rock or change his baby doll when I am preoccupied by trying to calm his baby sister down. He also likes to play with the doll without being prompted, he likes to bring it into the bathtub with him and has even insisted on covering him up with a blanket before he goes to bed. He is also intrigued with the entire concept of the baby going potty, which is nice because he’s right at the age to potty train. This doll was a great fit for Drew. HABA offers a variety of doll accessories, many of which I can see really adding play value to children in Drew’s situation with a new sibling. For example, their car seat, table seat, and bassinet would be great for mimicking what mom is doing with the baby. Also, the Götz doll basic care set would be neat for feeding baby (without real water being used), or pretending to change a diaper. The diaper might further assist with potty training pretend play as well.

Connect: You can connect with HABA on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.

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Win it: Your choice of Götz doll from HABA EXCEPT for the standing dolls. Above are just a few dolls that you could choose from!

To enter: Fill out the GT form below before 11:59pm EST on 5/13/2013. This giveaway is open to the US.

 

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