American Girl dolls (since my last post about them), and I wanted to address them for folks:
The Peanut owns an American Girl "Just Like Me" doll. "Natalie" is pictured here at our recent tea party and, as you can see, she gets a lot of outfit changes (as well as tiara time) at this house.
That said, other friends have dolls from other lines that are lovely and also well-loved by the girls who own them. If your child is not big on labels, there are dolls in just about every price range that might fit what you want: Our Generation dolls at Target (I've actually been thinking about getting The Peanut an Our Generation Sydney doll as a "friend" for Natalie, but not for Christmas this year -- for her birthday, if she expresses interest still in another doll); Friends Boutique dolls at WalMart that are made by Lillian Vernon (who has a similar line that is made for Toys-R-Us as well); or Springfield Collection dolls at craft stores like A.C. Moore or Michaels.
While the knock-off dolls can be nice for a while, I've noticed a couple of issues with them that have not been issues for us with the American Girl doll.
1) The hair on the knock-off lines just does not stay as nice. With repeated combing or play, and especially if your child is going to sleep with the doll and muss it around a lot, the hair on the knock-off dolls gets really snarly and tough to comb back out. If you braid it back out of the way, you can stave off the snarling a bit longer, according to a mom whose daughter has had a knock-off for a while. I asked because I'm thinking about a knock-off as a second doll for The Peanut -- one expensive American Girl doll is enough for us, I think.
But the significant hair issues with the knock-off lines that I've seen have given me pause because The Peanut is a bit of a hair stylist wanna be, and her doll gets lots of hair clip love. A half-balding doll is not a pretty sight, so I haven't decided if this is the route we will go -- or if Natalie will just have to be content with Barbie coming for a sleepover instead. (The things you think of for your kids, eh?)
2) The fabric used on the body of the doll, as well as the quality of the stuffing material, is not the same. The American Girl quality is substantially higher than any of the knock-off dolls I've seen. That's not to say that it won't last for a while -- it's just that (from experience) a cheaper grade of fabric won't last nearly as long, nor will it be as resistant to tears or holes as a better fabric might be. If your child is careful, then it won't be as much of an issue. But if your child is a little more rough on toys -- or if you think she will play with her doll a lot? The American Girl quality is tough to beat.
This is especially true because changing the outfits can require a lot of pulling and tugging when things are a little snug in the fit, and the last thing you'd want is an arm or leg ripping off the doll. (At our house, that would be major, major trauma.)
If, however, you aren't sure your child will even play with a doll? Then starting with a knock-off as a test run makes a lot of sense budget-wise, especially.
As I said before, we have had a lot of great luck with knock-off line furniture -- especially the Our Generation storage armoire that we bought her at Target which has been fantastic (which is no longer available, but here's another version in pink that looks really cute!), and hopefully we'll also have some luck with this bunk bed/closet combo which will appear magically in the house this Christmas from Santa.
Plus, The Peanut loves all the outfits from Springfield Collection, Friends Boutique and from Our Generation that we've purchased. Although the shoes from these lines are really hit or miss, so be forewarned to check for quality on those.
But for her doll?
Even with the hefty price tag, I'm glad we bought her the American Girl doll. We have not had one rip, tear, or hair snarl, and Natalie gets plenty of play time every single day.
In my opinion? If you can, spend the money on the American Girl doll. Save on the accessories. Then your child will have a doll they can pass down to their own kids, because it really holds up so well that I do think The Peanut will have Natalie for a lifetime. Just my two cents.
(Photo by me at the tea party for two The Peanut and I had a few weeks ago.)