Are you looking to get into the world of lifelike dolls? There is a TON to know about these beautiful collectibles and it is important you do your research in order to understand the key differences before you make this investment.
Do you want to cuddle your baby? Is this doll for a child? Are you looking to pose and photograph your baby? Are you looking for a baby you can bathe?
Learning the key differences between vinyl or reborn babies and silicone babies will help you decide which route to take based on your desires.
Basic Properties of Silicone & Vinyl
Silicone Rubber is a man-made or synthetic form of rubber. Silicone is created by combining carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and silicon. Silicon comes from silica which is derived from sand.
The process to create silicon is very complex and requires multiple stages. Understanding that this is a specialized, lengthy process will help you better understand and justify the price point of silicone baby dolls.
Silicone has high-temperature resistance, is very flexible, and is also UV & ozone resistant. It also repels water and forms watertight seals.
Lastly, silicone is non-toxic and there is a very rare chance that you may be allergic to it which makes it a great material to create cuddly dolls with!
Vinyl is also a man-made or synthetic material. Vinyl is a very strong, durable material that is abrasion and moisture resistant.
Vinyl is the second-largest selling plastic in the world because it is very cost-efficient. This will help you understand the lower price point of vinyl baby dolls.
It is also rare that you may be allergic to vinyl. However, there are some organizations that warn on the exposure of PVC in vinyl, especially with young children.
It is important to note, as some companies will claim they are selling you a “Silicone Vinyl Baby”, that silicone and vinyl cannot mix as a compound and react like oil and water.
You cannot have a single doll made from both silicone and vinyl.
Do your research and ask questions before purchasing any dolls alleging this combination!
Silicone vs. Vinyl Baby Dolls
|Silicone Dolls||Vinyl Dolls|
|Squishy, Jiggly, Soft||Hard|
|Flexible/Bendable||Not Very Flexible|
|Full Silicone Body||Cloth Body|
|Able to be bathed/submerged in water||Cannot be bathed or submerged in water|
|Fragile (Easily Torn, Ripped, or Peeled)||More Durable|
|Can Open Mouth||Fixed Mouths/Do Not Open & Close|
|No Armatures (wire bits)/Non-Poseable||Use Armatures (wire bits)/Poseable|
|Rooted, Not Sealed Hair||Sealed Hair|
|More Expensive||Less Expensive|
Touch and Feel
Due to silicone’s properties, silicone dolls have a more squishy, jiggly, and soft feel to them. Because of this, they have been said to be more realistic to a baby and have a more cuddly feel to them.
They curl up when hugged and seem to melt into your arms. This gives them a more comforting feel.
Vinyl Dolls have a harder or more firm feel to them. While some dolls may still have limbs that you can “press into”, it is not nearly as pliable or squishy as silicone dolls.
They have hollow limbs that are filled with a sand-like glass medium which gives them a firmer feel.
Silicone dolls are extremely flexible and bendable. They have an almost “boneless” property about them (imagine touching their foot to their knee).
Vinyl dolls are not very flexible. Their limbs are harder to move and if you attempt to stretch too hard, they can break! If they are created with a non-jointed body, they will have a limited range of motion in their limbs.
Some vinyl dolls are created with jointed bodies. This allows the hips and shoulders more flexibility and will allow the arms and legs to spin all the way around on the joint axis.
Most silicone dolls are made with full silicone bodies. The process involves creating one complete (full-body) mold for which the baby is formed.
There are some silicone dolls with cloth bodies though, so be sure to look into this!
All vinyl dolls will have a cloth body. Some artists or companies may cover this cloth body with vinyl, but it is important to note that there is still cloth under the vinyl (this is key for determining the bathe-ability of the doll).
Because silicone babies typically have full silicone bodies, they are able to be fully submerged in water and bathed. It is important to note, however, that they should not be bathed very often due to the fragile nature of their skin.
Please be aware, if you purchase a silicone doll with a cloth body though, you cannot fully submerge them!
Because of vinyl babies’ cloth bodies, they are not able to be submerged in water or bathed. If you were to do this, you are running the risk of harboring harmful bacteria in their bodies that can make you sick.
You can “sponge bathe” them over their heads and limbs to clean them up though!
Silicone babies are very fragile! If they are not properly cared for they may rip, tear, or peel. There are special powders made to preserve your baby’s skin! So note this as an extra cost associated with caring for silicone babies.
It is recommended that you only change silicone doll’s outfits one to two times a week to prevent any excessive shearing forces on their skin.
Another thing to note is that silicone skin is like a magnet to hair or lint. Frequent care of the skin keeps your doll clean!
Due to their fragility, some people recommend you do not give young children silicone dolls if it is difficult for them to understand how to best take care of and preserve these beautiful pieces of art.
Vinyl dolls are a lot more durable. For those looking to invest in a doll for their child, these tend to be more “child-friendly” as they are low maintenance.
They do not rip, tear, or peel as easily and if well cared for can last from 10-30 years.
Silicone babies’ mouths are able to be opened and closed. This allows them to use a pacifier or take a bottle.
Because of the rigidity of vinyl dolls, their mouths are usually fixed, either open or closed. Some reborns, or vinyl dolls, are created with magnetic mouths and pacifiers to mimic this feature.
Ability to Pose
Silicone babies are not created with armatures or small wire bits in the limbs and body. This is why they have a “boneless” appearance which gives them flexibility.
Because of this, they typically only hold one position, the position they were molded in. If you move an arm or leg up or down, it will fall back to its resting position.
Vinyl babies are created with armatures. This allows them to be more easily posed. If you move an arm or a leg, the doll will stay in that position.
In order to maintain that lifelike appearance, most silicone babies have rooted hair that is not sealed. Rooting means that the hair is pushed individually into the silicone by a needle.
Because it is not sealed, the hair may shed over time. It is important to use soft brushes or combs and to be very gentle when combing it.
Vinyl dolls’ hair should be sealed. That means there is a layer of glue inside the head holding the hair in place. It is still very fragile and is not meant to be forcefully pulled or rubbed a lot.
Price points for silicone vs. vinyl dolls can vary significantly based on the artist or seller of the doll.
Typically speaking, silicone dolls are more costly due to the lengthy process and artistry it takes to create these beautiful, lifelike dolls.
Vinyl dolls, while still works of art, are oftentimes easier and cheaper to create, therefore making them more affordable.
Both types of dolls are highly sought after and make beautiful additions to your doll collection.
What Should My Doll Be Made Of? Which One Is Better?
While one type is not better than the other, there are collectors who prefer Silicone over Vinyl and vice versa. It is important to go through the list of differences and think, “what am I looking for in my doll?”
Some collectors prefer to have each type. It is crucial to note that one should not have their silicone and vinyl dolls touch or share clothes. The properties in each are toxic to one another and can cause quicker breakdown of their skin.
Here’s an in-depth video on vinyl babies…
And here’s one going into more detail on silicone babies…