As a childbirth educator, you’ll spend a lot of time trying to find the right babies to use in class. You will want to have babies for a variety of reasons.

Babies to Simulate Birth

You will need a baby to use for demonstrations for the birth process. These babies will usually have little to no hair, or if there is hair, it’s painted on. If you use a fairly standard fetal model, it will also have the suture lines and fontanels to allow you to talk about how we can tell the position of a baby via vaginal exam or how the fetal skull can change shape to allow for an easier birth process. Childbirth Graphics sells these for about $80 each and they have beige, brown, and dark brown models. They are designed to fit through the standard pelvic models that they sell, cloth or plastic. These babies are a lot less creepy looking than the original models.

There are also less expensive models on Etsy. If you search using the term childbirth education doll or model, you can find some, but others aren’t as easily found. I have three dolls that I currently use in my childbirth classes and doula training. One is a high-end model from Etsy and the seller is no longer working, and the other is a budget model that has become really handy to have around and was budget friendly. You can still find those from Your Birth on Etsy. There are also ones that you can make yourself by purchasing patterns, usually the knit and crochet variety.

There are also a series of expensive models. They cost about $350 and have a female pelvis mounted on a baseboard, with a fetal skull model attach to a gooseneck shaft. They come with a variety of skulls, each with fontanels that you can palpate as you demonstrate the birth process. I personally feel like these models are probably not the best for most childbirth classes and are more suited towards the medical, midwifery, and nursing schools.

You may also choose to use general dolls from any store that are not designed specifically for this purpose. The problem with most of these is that they are either too stiff to fit through the pelvis in any way that seems inviting or they don’t fit. I could give up the fontanels and teach that using a balloon or a ball or even clay, but the right fit and flexibility is crucial.

Babies to Practice Breastfeeding, Baby Care, and Babywearing

Aside from showing the process of birth, which, while a short amount of time, is a very important piece, many childbirth educators use babies or models to show breastfeeding positions, baby care tasks like bathing, holding, burping, diapering, etc., and may also do babywearing examples using these babies too.

You could take the easier route and ask that every group bring their own doll or stuffed animal. These certainly work, but they are usually not weighted the way a newborn is and are not always very lifelike. In addition to those qualities, you may also consider what storage you have and how far you will need to drag these babies from class to class.

Amazon sells a variety of newborn care models that include a multitude of genders and ethnicities. These are anatomically correct and weighted like a small, term newborn. These are medical models and they sell for about $80.

The 16-inch dolls are the most typical dolls in a generic search and they run the gamut. There is an anatomically correct (and the male is intact) 16-inch doll in male and female and is also in multiple ethnicities. I think this doll is a bit stiff, but some like it and say it can loosen up the more you use it.

If you’re looking for a slightly bigger doll, the 20-inch dolls are great for all the baby care and babywearing uses. I like the La Baby 20-inch Soft Body Doll. This doll works well and comes in 16 and 22-inch varieties, but multi-ethnic dolls are more difficult to find. For nearly twice the price, you can find the same type of doll with very realistic faces from Target. Target also sells a specific newborn version.

So to recap:

You’ll need babies to show the process of birth, breastfeeding positions, baby care, and babywearing.

When looking for a baby to use in class, consider:

  • What you’ll use it for
  • Does it have fontanels or space to draw them
  • How it feels compared to a newborn
  • How much it weighs
  • How flexible it is (will it bend to fit through the pelvis)
  • How heavy it is and how you’ll store/carry them to class
  • The range of sex and ethnicity available
  • How well you can clean it
  • How long it will hold up based on the cost

What other questions or comments do you have about the babies used in childbirth class? We’d love to have your thoughts. Join us in our group to let us know your thoughts.

“How a baby is born” by DaisyFoundationLeeds is licensed under CC BY 2.0This image has been altered to fit this page.

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