Pros: Beautifully made, a simple baby doll.
Cons: Not sold in mass market stores other than AG Place
If you have a daughter who enjoys baby dolls, like I do, there are so many to choose from. These days you can find dolls that wet, cry, drink, giggle, coo, and even poop. Whatever happened to a simple baby doll that leaves everything to the imagination? When I was looking for a simple baby doll for my daughter I was completely nonplussed with the selection of dolls that either did too much, or looked like they wouldn't hold up to the lots of loving that I knew she had in store for it. Several of my friends who have daughters older than mine told me to "bite the bullet and get a Bitty Baby". I kept holding off because they also warned me that "Once you go Bitty you never go back". I'd seen the American Girl catalog before and read enough AG reviews to know that this stuff doesn't come cheap. Did I really want to start in on this with just a two year old?
Who is this Bitty Baby and why don't I find her on store shelves?
Bitty Baby is the baby doll offering from American Girl. American Girl is now owned by the toy giant, Mattel, but the Bitty Baby doll bears a copyright symbol of the former company "The Pleasant Company". I understand that when the company shifted hands to Mattel the product quality supposedly took a downward turn, and the prices of the dolls and accessories creeped upward. I would have thought that since the company was under Mattel that the dolls would become more widely available. However, years later they still remain off of the mass-market store shelves. The only way to purchase a brand new American Girl doll is through their catalog or by ordering online at www.americangirl.com.
The Bitty Baby doll is a 15-inch doll with a cloth body and vinyl arms, legs, and head. She comes in 5 different versions:
Dark skin, textured black hair, light brown eyes
Light skin, black hair, black almond-shaped eyes
Light skin, blond hair, blue-gray eyes
Light skin, dark brown hair, light brown eyes
Medium skin, dark brown hair, dark brown eyes
As the name suggests this is a baby doll. There's also "Bitty Twins" that are representative of the toddler stage and come in either boy or girl. Bitty baby comes just in a baby girl version.
Are you ready for the big one?
Here it comes...
Bitty Baby is priced at $42 and up. For $42 you get the Bitty Baby doll of your choice wearing a cloth diaper and lavendar knit sleeper with a Bitty Bear and Bitty Bear board book. Bitty Bear is Bitty Baby's teddy bear, a 5-inch jointed bear with a pinkish ribbon around its neck. If you would like to part with more than $42 you can purchase Bitty Baby with a Starter Collection for around $100, $98 exactly. The starter collection includes everything mentioned above plus a storage chest, a fancy outfit including a gown, bonnet, bib, bloomer & booties, a quilt, a rattle, and 2 baby bottles. The Starter Collection purchased without the doll is $90, so I don't know why if you were springing for the collection you wouldn't just get the set that includes doll for just $8 more. Of course, American Girl also sells an entire line of accessories for your Bitty Baby doll including layette items, nursery furniture (for ex. Crib $40, Bedding $29, Mobile $15, and Canopy $36), baby gear (ex. a pram for $60) and even matching outfits for your child and Bitty. Bitty Twins dolls accessories and clothes also fit Bitty Baby so if you want a more expanded line of clothing and a few other accessories to choose from (for example a potty training set $30, or a double stroller $54). As you can see the accessories are as expensive as Bitty herself and most of the items are "sold separately".
So is Bitty Baby worth the $42?
Bitty is a beautiful baby doll with a very sweet, innocent and realistic face. Her head, full arms, and full legs are sculpted vinyl, and just her torso is cloth. Her torso is a bit blocky in shape and stuffed firm, yet huggable. When I first picked up Bitty Baby I was seriously surprised at just how 'heavy' and substantial she really is. I guess I was expecting her to be comparable to the other cheap dolls that my daughter owns. So, I was pleasantly surprised at her substance.
Bitty Baby is recommended for children 3 and up. Mostly because I think for young toddlers she is too much doll. Bitty is a bit on the heavy side, and though she has a huggable body her arms, legs and head are hard. My daughter has gotten a "boo-boo" a few times by too vigourously picking up the doll and getting bapped in the chin by her hard head. Also important to note is that her arms and legs are sewn on, so they aren't posable. Bitty can't sit up on her own, she has to either lay flat, be held, or somehow propped in position. My daughter also seems mildly frustrated at times by the fact that Bitty has a closed mouth so when she pretend feeds her a bottle its a bit unnatural looking.
Bitty's lavendar sleeper and cloth diaper can be either machine or hand washed and wear very well. Considering they are sold separately for $15, one would hope they hold up since that's more than most baby sleepers cost. Its important to note that though Bitty is a 15 inch doll, standard "15 inch doll" clothes may not fit on her. Bitty has unique measurement because of the way she's constructed -which leads you to purchasing more clothes or items directly from American Girl at their higher prices.
Its really nice that this doll is available in the different eye, hair, and skin tones. Our Bitty is the light haired and blue eyed one which resembles my daughter. Bitty Baby's hair is sculpted on to her head so its not really hair, per se - she is more like a bald baby. Bitty has the kind of eyes that open and shut depending on if she is flat or vertical, she reminds me so much of a baby doll that I had as a child.
The appeal of Bitty Baby is that she is a well-made, simple, beautiful, baby doll with no frills. The "frills" come with all the extra accessories that are available to purchase for her, should you choose to start growing an American Girl collection. I'm sure that over the next few years we'll add a few purchases for our Bitty for special occasion gifts. Bitty is a sturdy doll and I'm very confident she'll hold up for years to come. Whether my daughter remains interested in dolls that long, remains to be seen. But, from all the people I know who have older girls who love their Bitty Baby and American Girl dolls I am extremely hopeful.
I'll end with one final thought about American Girl Bitty Baby.
If she is an American Girl, then why does her tag say she is MADE IN CHINA?