By Pamela Chan, Contributor
When the Baby Alive My Baby All Gone arrived, I was reminded that one of my nieces had a Baby Alive doll when she was nine. Since I didn’t grow up with this type of doll, using a doll that can “pee and poo” was a new experience. My daughter was excited to try her and we agreed that it would be best to get to know Baby Alive – now called Miss Hannah – step by step.
What’s In The Box
Baby Alive dolls that can eat and drink have been around for a number of years. (Look at how different the concept was back in 1992!) With each new version of the doll, you see subtle changes in the design. This Baby Alive speaks more than 30 phrases; has a small bottle that looks like a sippy cup with a long spout; and, comes with two diapers and a dish and spoon with a panda theme. She is dressed in a satiny dress that has chiffon sleeves and a panda pattern, and has a pretty yellow flower attached. Her hair is silky, smooth and swept up into pony tails. There are no attached eye lashes. Her mouth operates using a push button rather than magnetic mechanism. Unlike previous versions, you make the doll talk by pushing on the bracelet rather than on the tummy. This is not a doll that you would take in the bathtub as the speakers for the voice box are exposed. The face features large, broad, blue eyes and a large mouth with pink lips. The non-toxic food is meant to represent peas/vegetables and pears/fruit. Unlike other versions of Baby Alive, there is no bib or soother.
The Baby Alive doll is designed to give young girls an opportunity to act out mommy moments while caring for their “real doll”, as my five year old daughter calls it.
Trying Out Baby Alive
At first my daughter used the doll by pretending to feed it and give it a bottle. Next she decided to fill the bottle with water and introduce her baby early on to toilet training. That is she gave her doll water and held her over the toilet to use it. I mentally gave her an A for ingenuity.
Even without the use of the diaper, water and food, my daughter immediately began to rush to meet the dolls needs. Since there are over 30 phrases that come out, she was kept running while meeting all the doll’s request. Early in the morning I saw her get up and rush to do what the doll asked. Little mummy was very busy.
Here are some of the phrases that the doll says:
Hi mommy. La la la. I’m hungry. Please feed me. Slurping sound. Let’s cuddle. Play with me. I’m hungry. Eating sound. Could I have a bottle? (It is advised that you use at least 3 bottles of water to wash down the food after every eating session.) Mommy mommy. Slurp slurp. More please. Is my diaper dirty? Did I make a stinky? Pee yoo! I need a hug. I love you mummy. Hug please.
To switch the doll to French, you hold the bracelet for three seconds. To switch back to English, hold the bracelet until you hear the doll giggle. When the doll switched to French unexpectedly, this disturbed my daughter. She couldn’t understand what was being said and wanted the doll switched back to English. Conversely her five year old brother loves that the doll switches to another language and tries to make it switch to French. The doll is also available in an English/Spanish version.
For the first feeding and drink session with a diaper, my daughter sat with her gran. They made the food, carefully measuring out three teaspoons of water, draped the doll with a napkin and proceeded to put the diaper on her, give her food and wash the food down with a drink. This play session looked more like a science experiment as they figured out what to do and watched how the doll reacted.
While using the second packet of food and diaper, my daughter decided to try everything on her own. She found a cloth and wrapped her doll in it, swaddling style. This was also meant to serve as a bib to keep food off of the doll. As she fed the doll and gave it a bottle, she looked intently at the doll to see how it reacted. As the doll made requests, she adjusted her actions. She found the diaper a little challenging at first and asked for instructions about how to put it on. Towards the end of the feeding session she was a little bit frustrated when she got some food on the doll’s face. It was interesting to watch her as she cared for her doll and figured out what she needed to do to complete a task.
After a number of days watching the doll being used and cared for, my son found Baby Alive sitting on the carpet with her empty bottle, empty dish and spoon nearby. Even though he is not one to play with dolls (other than twisting a doll’s leg in awkward positions), he decided to pick up the doll and play with it. Following the instructions he fed the doll, gave it a bottle, hugged it and put his finger in the doll’s mouth for it to suck. There was a tiny bit of food residue that his finger found inside the doll’s mouth. He put his finger in his mouth – wondering if it was like food – and then got quite perturbed that he ate something that wasn’t really food. “What is this yellow stuff?! I put it in my mouth! Will I get sick?!” It was interesting to see that he hadn’t made the connection – unlike his sister – that the food is fake and that he shouldn’t put it in his mouth. As he had done previously, he enjoyed switching the doll over to French. I wondered if the talking mechanism in the doll made it more interesting for my son to try and gave some direction about how to use it. He is always saying that he would like a third child in the house (something about which he will have to be disappointed), so perhaps caring for this doll will fulfill his desire in at least a small way.
This doll would make a good play companion for a pre-school/kindergarten age child up to a young tween (who might want one more for the novelty factor). You can buy extra diapers and food packets. It would have been helpful to have a bib in the package as it is inevitable that food will get on the doll’s clothes. I would also like to see a line of thick cloth diapers (like the ones that are used nowadays). Another product option would be the design of a toy clothes washing set including a basin, bar of soap, clothes pegs and washing board. This way the product could be designed in a more sustainable way and produce an off-shoot product that encourages more pretend play. It would also be a good idea to put an on/off switch on the doll. Even though you can only activate the talking by squeezing the bracelet with purpose, some might like to keep the voice option off.
This doll continues to be a source of fun and sustained play interaction for my daughter. I have to admit that she took to the doll and played with it in ways that I hadn’t initially anticipated.
The Baby Alive doll would make a wonderful holiday gift this year!
Disclosure: I received a sample of a product to facilitate my review. No other compensation was provided and all views and opinions stated on this post are 100% my own.