Stuffing and Weighing Down Your Reborn Doll
If you want your reborn doll to feel like an actual baby instead of a toy, you'll need to stuff it with a soft material like Poly-Fil and a heavier material like poly pellets or glass micro beads. The soft material creates a more realistic texture, while the heavier material weighs down your reborn to create a lifelike weight. Without adding these two materials, your reborn will feel light and stiff.
You should use caution when performing this step to avoid damaging your reborn, however. Many inexperienced artists weigh down their reborns with kitty litter or sand, only to realize later these aren't suitable for use in reborns (we'll get to that later). Furthermore, damage can occur when weighing down vinyl reborns with silicone-based materials. To avoid headaches such as this, follow our guide below.
By now, you should have already stripped your reborn, painted the limbs and body (and given it ample time to dry), inserted the eyes, and rooted the hair. If you haven't done so, go back and read our guide on how to reborn a doll, beginning with step one and ending at step six. It's recommended that you stuff and weigh down your reborn after performing these steps. This is because painting requires the complete removal of the doll's limbs, and if you've already stuffed and weighed down your doll, the material will fall out. Inserting the eyes and rooting the hair also requires removal of the head, which is another reason why you should wait before proceeding with this step.
Choosing a Material to Stuff Your Reborn
To cut costs, manufacturers typically construct toy-grade dolls with a hollow body and stiff vinyl exterior. You can make your dolls feel more lifelike by stuffing the torso, head and limbs with a soft material. Once the stuffing is placed inside, the doll will feel less like a toy and more like an actual baby, which is the #1 goal when reborning a doll.
But it's important to stuff your reborn with the right material. Some artists assume cotton fiber is the best stuffing material for this step. It's light, fluffy and readily available at most arts and crafts stores. Being that cotton is organic, however, it may attract moths, carpet beetles, silverfish and other insects seeking an easy meal. Unless you want these creepy crawlies wiggling their way into your reborn, DO NOT stuff it with cotton.
Wool is another material that artists stuff inside reborns, but like cotton it may also attract insects. Furthermore, both cotton and wool may soak up moisture, which encourages mold and musky odors. For these reasons, it's best to avoid stuffing your reborn with cotton, wool stuffing or any other natural fiber. Instead, use an inorganic, synthetic material like Poly-Fil.
Made of 100% premium polyester fabric, Poly-Fil is the perfect material to stuff a reborn. Much like cotton, it's light and fluffy. But because it's synthetic, Poly-Fill doesn't attract insects, nor does it soak up moisture.
You can buy Poly-Fill at most arts and crafts stores, including Michaels and Jo-Ann, as well as Wal-Mart and Amazon.com.
How to Stuff Your Reborn
To stuff your reborn doll, simply push the Poly-Fil or your preferred stuffing material down into the torso, head, arms and legs. If the cavity is too small, try breaking up the material into smaller pieces. You'll still want to leave some room for the heavier material, so don't worry about completely filling the cavities. You just want enough material so make your reborn softer and more squishy. And remember, you can always go back and add more if needed.
Choosing a Material to Weigh Down Your Reborn
Poly-Fil alone isn't enough to give your reborn a life-like weight. You'll also need to add a heavier material to weigh down your reborn. The average newborn baby weighs between 6 and 7 pounds, so this is typically a good weight for a reborn. But you'll want to choose the right materials when weighing down your reborn to protect it from damage.
Don't Use Kitter Litter or Sand!
I've heard of artists using kitty litter to weigh down their dolls. While cheap and easy to use, it should never be added to a reborn. Kitty litter is specifically designed to absorb moisture -- and moisture isn't something that you want lingering inside your reborn.
Sand is another material that's used to weigh down reborns. Like kitty litter, though, it also absorbs moisture, making it an equally poor choice for reborns. One our visitors also pointed out that beach sand contains thousands upon thousands of tiny parasitic worms called nematodes that feast on microorganisms (yuck!). So even if the sand appears clean, it's literally teaming with life.
Other materials you should avoid using to weigh down your reborn rice, sawdust, dried beans, pebbles, and pretty much anything that's organic or otherwise perishable. So, what can you use?
Glass Micro Beads
One of the oldest and most popular materials for weighing down reborns is glass micro beads. Made of pure glass, they are relatively heavy for their small size, and they won't attract bugs or moisture. These characteristics makes them an ideal material for weighing down a reborn.
You can find glass micro beads available in several types, varying in size and coarseness. Personally, I prefer the smaller, fine-grit micro beads used in sand blasting.
Another material that's great for weighing down reborns is polypropylene pellets, or what's more commonly known as "poly pellets." They are safe, non-toxic, easy to use, and weigh a decent amount. Polypropylene is essentially a type of plastic polymer, so it's not going to absorb moisture or cause other problems.
Baby Fat Pellets
A third option is to use Baby Fat pellets. While they look similar to poly pellets, they are actually made of a different, softer material: silicone. Baby Fat pellets have many of the same characteristics as poly pellets, including a similar weight, size, consistency and resistance to moisture. Keep in mind, however, that direct contact with vinyl may damage your reborn. When silicone comes into contact with vinyl, it triggers a chemical reaction that causes oils to release. If you have a vinyl doll, you should either secure the Baby Fat pellets in something like stockings or disposable gloves before adding them or use a different material.
What About Steel BBs?
Some artists use steel-shot BBs as an alternative material to weigh down their reborns. Even if they are labeled as "stainless," however, there's always the possibility of them rusting -- and that's something you probably want to keep out of your reborn. Nonetheless, steel-shot BBs are still a viable alternative to poly pellets and Baby Fat pellets, assuming you bundle them in a container.
How to Weigh Down Your Reborn