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

polyfill-stuffing

Poly-Fil Stuffing

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.

Why 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.

Clay Cat Litter

Clay Cat Litter

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.

Poly Pellets

Poly pellets

Poly pellets

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

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17 Responses to “Stuffing and Weighing Down Your Reborn Doll”

  1. Casey says:

    I know some artists use bra inserts to make the belly and bum feel more real in cloth bodied dolls. How would you put them in, and what are your thoughts on them?

  2. Laura says:

    Hi,
    I have two reborns doll, one has loads on weight in it and he weights like a real baby, but my girl hasn’t really any weight to her, am I able to open her up and add extra weight to her?

    Thanks

    • Casey says:

      Yes but before you do, check and see how she’s closed off. If she has a cloth body, look and see how she’s closed off. Either with zip ties or with string. You can then upen her, reweight her, and then close her up with either the string or the zip ties.

    • ·⋆·ṬåṈḳ✪Ꮆⅈཞℓ·⋆· says:

      You absolutely can add weight to your baby. If you look closely around your reborns neck, they are usually held on by zip ties (you can find a replacement zip tie at lows or Home Depot etc). So you can carefully clip the old zip tie off of your doll, fill it through the neck hole, and zip tie your dolls head back on. Hope this helps ツ

    • Lillie says:

      Absolutely!! Id weigh the boy to see what weight you are aiming for and then find a good vendor. If you have trouble weighing him with a bathroom scale, try to buy an inexpensive but effective kitchen scale. As for weighting the body, place desired amount of beads inside a stocking or tied glove. for the limbs, work the beads into all of the hand crannies and then secure in place with poly-fil. Good Luck!!

  3. Maria says:

    Do not ever use kitty litter in your dolls!!!!
    With the dust and the fact that’s it’s meant to absorb, your doll will wick in moisture and end up getting moldy. The best material to use when weighting is glass beads used in sand blasting. They are clear and clean and will not go bad over time. Sand is not a good idea either unless it’s bleached art sand. Even then it can still harbor moisture and germs. The best stuffing to use is Polyfil. They make it with Microban protection. Cotton and wool could attract insects and moths and moisture.

  4. Maddy says:

    Could I add raw rice to make my reborn heavier?

  5. Crystal Hoff says:

    I have a question about stuffing my reborn doll who ever made her didn’t stuff her right because all of her weight is going down to her bottom and we can’t get to stay up what should we do?”

    • Casey says:

      Hello Crystal. I’ve seen some artists use like a sandwich method – they fill half way with cotton, place the weight in, and then fill more making sure to go around the weight (back, belly and sides). After that they top off the doll with more cotton. To make sure that the weight is still centered, the pull the weight by the stocking up just a little to make sure it’s centered, and then there! You have balance.

  6. colleen says:

    What kind of weighting material do you use?

  7. Jasmine says:

    i have a question if i use kitty litter will you feel that though the babies skin? and how to get a baby kit that has all the paint and supplies exept the cotton and the beads. I want to make one and sell some but,mostly make them to love and cherish. thanks

  8. Patricia says:

    Can you use seed beads for weighing your reborn doll if you can’t find the fine glass beads

  9. Hi Rebekah,

    I think that I can answer that question for you too 🙂

    I am assuming that the sand that you are inquiring about, is regular beach sand? If so, my personal choice would be not to use it. Even if you bake it to dry it out & in hopes of killing the living micro organisms in it. You probably won’t for certain kill them all. Some micro-organisms thrive & multiply in extreme heat. Then if by chance you are successful at eradicating them…now you have their “half baked” dead bodies still strewn about within the sand. Also, beach sand stays wet for quite a while. That’s time consuming…and if you were to accidentally not dry it out enough, the moisture inside the sand would most likely have some ill desired effects down the line. ie: mold, mildew, attract more organisms, cause the doll to smell awful, deterioration of paint, fabrics or vinyl discoloration over time. I would recommend just using pre packaged & pre-processed craft sand if you want to use sand. That or I love to use a finer grit of glass blasting beads. Other than that, sand should be no different really than using glass beads as glass is made from sand.
    ♡~Tracy

  10. Rebekah says:

    Hi I have a question about weighting. I like to use sand in my dolls. I used to use glass beads but then someone told me about sand. I read somewhere else to bake the sand in your oven because it will make it cleaner. But my question is. Is sand 100% safe? It won’t hurt the reborn after a couple months/years?

    Thanks

  11. Hi Cathe,

    I am a professional reborn artist and sculptor. I use only the best materials when reborning my dolls and adhere to the best known and accepted methods when weighting and assembling them.

    To keep the weighting material from shifting around it is best if you use a combination of cotton fibers along with the glass beads.

    Please any reborners that are reading this. DO NOT use kitty litter or dirty beach sand to stuff your dolls! …If many of you are like myself. Kitty litter makes me think of dust mites and the thought of that “puft” of kitty litter dust when you want to snuggle your baby doll is enough to send me into a sneezing allergy attack. Then there’s the “you think it’s clean” beach sand. I paid attention in Science class and Biology. Here’s the disgusting scope on sand. Sand has tiny micro-organisms in it that are called nematodes. One handful of sand contains thousands of these microscopic worms that are from the parasites of insects, plants and animals and if that’s not gross enough…they feed on bacteria. So as you can imagine, if you put them in your collectable doll you may indeed have yourself a real live “living doll!”

    Moving on. My personal preference because I don’t like the idea of using latex gloves is to instead use ladies stockings doubled up, or I custom sew bead pouches to go into the dolls. Then I will glue the limb plugs or felt on to keep everything tucked inside nicely.

    As far as the eye insertion goes, your method will greatly depend on the doll kit and also the type of eyes you have chosen for your baby doll. Try to first pre warm your vinyl head in the oven on 275 for approx. 3-4 minutes to make it a bit more flexible. Then try to very gently insert the eyes from the front. If your eye of choice does not pop into the vinyl easily then you will have no choice but to take an X-acto knife and do surgery! lol This can be done from both the front or from the inside of the kit. I have very sharp knives to do this and it works great from the outside for me. Tip: only cut the top portion as much as it will take to get the eye in. That will leave a bottom flap that will act as like an extra security feature so the eye doesn’t fall out. Inserting the eyes from the inside can be a bit tricky but you can squish the head or use long curved forceps to gain better access to the eye sockets it’s not so bad. (Not so bad meaning that I’ll only have had to curse a couple of times instead of during the entire process! 😉

    To answer your second question. To open a nose I get out my Makita cordless drill and insert a clean drill bit that is just big enough so that when I start the drilling process it doesn’t hook or scuff the insides or outsides of the nostrils. Make sure that your drill bit does not have residual machining oil on it from the factory. It will cause problems for you when you start the painting process. Wait until all painting/baking is complete to finish off the backing of the nose with dark felt glued behind them with E6000. btw unless your goal is cancer, use it in a well ventilated area and be conscious not to inhale it if at all possible.

    Lastly, the gaps between the finger positions are 9 times out of 10 hollow inside. (If you can resculpt- no biggie. If not you’re going to have to learn to live with a holy baby! Are you prepared to do that? lol)
    Also, from a collector and sculptor’s stand point. Personally, I think that doing so would decrease the original value of the doll and drastically alter the sculptor’s original concept of the piece. Think about it this way; how valuable do you think Michelangelo’s Statue of David would be if someone decided to chisel off a certain piece of the statue’s anatomy- or painted a smile on the Mona Lisa? …Enough changes to make the doll your own or set it apart are good, but no need to be drastic and reinvent the wheel! Hope this information is helpful to you and all who read it!

    Dolly Hugs,
    Tracy Cheyka
    Sculptor and reborn artist at Baby Dolls Nursery

  12. Cathe says:

    I have a question regarding the weighting of the reborn dolls. How do you keep the weighting material from shifting inside the doll? I was advised to place the pellets or glass beads into latex gloves and put the glove in the doll. But the glove full of glass beads shifts undesireably.
    Also, regarding inserting the eyes, I don’t get how to do this without slitting open the socket behind the eye. Please advise.
    Lastly, opening the nose and then glueing purple felt behind is a great look. Can the mouth be opened similarly,,, or better yet, the fisted hand…can this be cut to open and appear that the baby has its fist around our fingers?
    Thank yoU@

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