We love all kinds of dolls at Bella Luna Toys and believe in the power of dolls as a way to explore role playing, nurturing skills and imaginative play. But, if you have just begun your Waldorf journey or have long been a part of the world of Waldorf, you know that there is something special and a bit different about Waldorf Dolls that set them apart.
Dolls that Inspire the Imagination
One element that is consistent in all the dolls we love, is how they fire up the imagination of the children who play with them. In fact, often the less embellishment on the doll, the more the doll is loved. Why? Because the simpler a doll is, the more characteristics of the doll can be created in the imagination of the child. The child can give the doll a name, a voice, and a personality. Waldorf Dolls take this one step further because unlike many traditional dolls, the facial features of a Waldorf doll are intentionally minimal (for example, two embroidered eyes, and a hint of a mouth). Sometimes they don’t even have any facial features.
Seeing a doll’s face without a fixed expression allows a child to develop their capacity for imagination and creativity, giving the child the ability to imagine the doll having any emotion, from happy or sad to crying or laughing. Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education, suggested that children’s playthings should be largely unformed in order to encourage the imagination of the young child—to cultivate their “inner picturing” abilities.
Children want to imitate real life. Real babies smile and laugh, but they also look sad or cry when they are hungry or need changing. Therefore, if a doll has just two eyes, and a suggestion of a mouth, the child is more easily able to imagine this baby expressing a range of emotions, living richly in their imaginative life.
Dolls that Encourage the Senses
Sensory experiences in early childhood are essential and so giving children toys that inform these experiences in a nourishing and soothing way are vital. When a young child cuddles a Waldorf doll stuffed with wool and lavender, covered in cotton with a head of soft mohair, the softness and comfort of this doll will create a calm and gentle feeling in the child, allowing them to settle their emotions and regulate. Waldorf Dolls are even known as “sensory babies” and their weighted bodies, filled with organic, lavender-scented millet provide a similar calming effect to a weighted blanket.
Another characteristic of these dolls that provides a deep calm feeling is how the wool stuffing warms the longer a child holds the baby. Combined with the weight, these qualities are similar to the feel of holding a real baby which encourage empathy and nurturing. These “Heavy Babies” are just right for children who need extra sensory attention or the sensation of "lugging," to provide settling and reassurance.
The Original Heavy Baby weighs over 4 lbs and is a better option for older children. These dolls were inspired by Waldorf baby dolls that originated in Germany in 1919, designed to resemble a child in its infant stage. Our Little Heavy Baby Doll, also known as a “Bunting Doll”, is more huggable, and squeezable - ideal for toddlers. The body is pillow-like and squishy, making it easy for a young child to hold and grasp.
Dolls for Little Hands
Not every Waldorf doll is a heavy baby that children can rock in their arms. Waldorf dolls come in tiny sizes for little hands to hold and tuck into their pockets or a bag to bring on a trip. With the Waldorf Blanket Dolls, also known as a towel doll, children can even begin to start playing with dolls as infants. These dolls have a formed head covered with cotton knit skin and hand-sewn simple facial features. Babies love to look at faces and these dolls serve as a wonderful first companion. These dolls are usually crafted from a soft cotton body with simple hands and feet sewn into the four corners. These materials are safe for a child to play with, self-soothe and even gum them when it's teething time. Some of the other Waldorf Dolls for Little Hands that we carry are Nanchen Rattle Dolls in a variety of vegetable and fruit shapes, Grimm's Pocket Babies, Bella Babies and our collection of Star Baby Pocket Waldorf Dolls. All of these pint-sized dolls are perfect to take with you on adventures to have on hand for a quick squeeze and a lot of comfort.
Whatever the size, shape, or type, a Waldorf doll is a wonderful first doll for children as they begin to explore role playing, nurturing skills and imaginative play. We know you will fall in love with these cozy dolls as much as we have at Bella Luna Toys!