Wednesday, December 18, 2013

How I made a babywearing demo doll

I wanted to make a demo doll to use at our babywearing sling-meets as it is by far safer for teaching and learning to use than a real baby. However, finding a tutorial on how to go about it wasn't the simple Google search I expected it to be! Eventually, I managed to piece together the process from various instructions I found (some quite vague!), so I thought I would try to pay-it-forward to the next person searching and create the tutorial I would have liked to find!!!

I "met" my first weighted baby at a meet a couple of weeks ago and was staggered by how heavy she was (granted, I didn't know she had arrived and she had identical siblings their, non-weighted, who I thought I was quickly grabbing!!) and learned that they do seem much heavier than a baby of equivalent weight - because they have no muscle-tone, they are a dead-weight! So even though the doll is roughly half the weight of my 8.6kg granddaughter, it seems heavier to hold! Once you put them into a carrier though, the weight is supported and feels like the 4kg baby it replicates. It's the same science that explains why your sleeping 2yo feels so much heavier to carry!

What you need:

  • A toy baby doll - I got mine from Kmart for $15. As it is almost Christmas, they were in abundance. It is classed as a "Newborn doll" but I hope you never have to birth a baby that size and length!
  • A pack of aquarium stones/gravel - I bought mine at the garden centre, a 5kg pack was $10.95

  • A seam ripper or scissors
  • Kitchen scales
  • A needle and strong thread
  • Stockings or fabric to create pouches to hold the weights: I used some stuff that was packaging from shelves bought at Ikea, which I knew would come in handy! Almost anything will do
How long will it take:
You will need about an hour to complete the project. I suggest you do so without sensitive small children around - or adventurous older children who might follow your lead with said sensitive child's favourite doll!!
(I also recommend NOT listening to Rod Stewart's Christmas album in the background  - there is something quite disconcerting about hearing Silent Night while pouring stones into a baby's head! Just saying!)

Step One:

Using your seam ripper or small scissors, undo the seam between the doll's legs.

Step Two:
Pull out all the stuffing from the doll!!!!


Step Three:
Measure out enough gravel to bring the head of the doll to a weight of 350gms. I did this by first popping the head on the scales and adjusting it back to zero, then adding stones til it weighed enough. I don't think this is critical!!!

Step Four:
Pour the stones into the head! You could use a funnel but I couldn't find mine - wasn't a drama

Step five:
Stuff filling into the head to stop the stones coming out.

Step Six:
Prepare the pouches. I thought about sewing these and then decided I couldn't see why I should and tied them in bundles instead.

Roughly cut fabric into size
Line the bowl with the fabric

Add the weight of stones for that pouch

Tie knot A

Tie knot B
 I made four pouches at 250gms for the arms and legs and two at 500gms for the torso

Step Seven:
Working one at a time, push each limb pouch into place and add stuffing around and over it.

 Step Eight:
Fill the upper chest and shoulders but make sure the unsupported head can still sag when you hold it upright.

Step Nine:
Add the chest body pouch and stuff around it.

Step ten:
Add the last pouch in the area of the doll's bum and stuff around it.Keep stuffing until there is none left!

Step Eleven"

Double-thread your needle (thread and then tie the two ends in one knot) and begin stitching. If your doll has a seam reinforcing strip like mine, incorporate it to add strength. I stitched through mine on each pass.

Thankfully, my caesareans were not DIY!! The thread is blackend from dirt on the stones!!

Step Twelve:
Squish everything into place a bit more until you are happy or bored!

The head flops unsupported, with the chin touching the chest. This allows you to show how the airway can be blocked by incorrect wearing. Also useful to demonstrate breastfeeding position!
 Step Thirteen:
Dress your doll! Mine still needs a nappy. And a name!!!

This doll is not intended as a toy and obviously those stones could be a choking hazard if I child could get to them. Use and store your demo doll like a responsible adult. (And consider how others who don't know it is a doll will react if they see it shoved in the back of your car!!)


Unknown said...

Ha ha so don't leave on the backseat of the car whilst shopping. Thanks Yvette :)

Unknown said...

Ha ha so don't leave in the car visible when shopping. Thanks Yvette :)

MamaBearBabyWears said...

I need to make one of these! Thanks for much for the tuts :)

Suzie said...

Thank you so much for doing this. I think it will be much more successful than the way I was planning to do it.

Mrs 50s said...

The silent night bit made me laugh! Great tutorial, thank you - just what I need for practising my own wrapping skills without paying £75+ for an official BW doll.

Rosalie said...

great tutorial, thanks so much! will do this for my BW course in december.

Ann said...

Thank you for this!

I just made one and filled socks with sand instead of using rocks. Each sock had around 450g in it, with an 800g and 600g for the body. I just poured sand in the head through a funnel. Doll came out at around 10lbs, so good for small baby demos. Left neck to flop as you suggest.

The downside is that it is now crying sand out of its eyes! So I would suggest filling a sock for the head as well, if you can work out a way to shove it in.

Thanks againM

Amy said...

Thank you so much for this! I've been trying to figure out how to do this for a while now so thank you for cracking it for me!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this, I have a chronic pain condition and have to pace up activities over a long period of time so I won't flare up my pain. My baby is due later this year and I was trying to find a way to have a fake baby to practice baby wearing and just lifting it etc. I filled mine with wheat and it only came to 2.9kg. So I ended up strapping a 1kg leg weight to it's back. I might find a heavier material later. But it's just what I was needing!