‘Reborn’ babies first appeared in the 1990s. Each is unique, carefully crafted by artists known as ‘reborners’. The hyper-realistic reborn babies are created with such details as birthmarks, veins, implanted hair, pores, tears, and saliva. More sophisticated reborns are equipped with electronic systems capable of reproducing the heartbeat, breathing, and sucking of a real baby. Most of the dolls are made of vinyl, though the more realistic ones are made from silicone. Human hair is used for eyelashes, and completed dolls are sometimes perfumed with a ‘new baby’ smell. Reborn babies are available whole and in kit form, and can be purchased online and at fairs. The process of buying a reborn can be done in such a way as to simulate adoption: dolls come with ‘adoption’ or ‘birth’ certificates. Reborn babies have been used in pediatric training to teach students practical childcare skills, and the use of the dolls in care homes has been shown to help reduce disruptive behaviour in people with dementia. While most reborn owners are doll collectors, others have experienced miscarriage, neonatal deaths, have no means for adoption, or suffer from empty nest syndrome, and may use the doll as a substitute for a child.
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