DIY Mouth for a Soft Baby Doll
Guest post by Tova Ovits, IBCLC at FirstLatch.com
The First Latch teaches prenatal Breastfeeding 101 classes at a local birthing center that provided expensive plastic dolls with awkwardly twisted legs and necks. The rigid dolls were not helpful for demonstrating breastfeeding positions, and were more useful for demonstrating the need to get therapy for torticollis. When I saw a YouTube video of IKEA dolls that were weighted, I had to hack my own dolls and figured out how to add an open mouth and tongue. The new mouth opens widely enough to demonstrate a nipple tilt or breast sandwich with a crocheted demo breast.
IKEA’s LEKKAMRAT soft Caucasian, Asian, and black dolls cost about $10 each. Their arms and legs rotate at the shoulder and thigh, allowing the “baby” to hug mom’s breast. Because I hacked the dolls in the springtime and stretchy one-size-fits-all winter gloves weren’t available, I used 2 fingers of a stretchy shower glove from the dollar store for each mouth and tongue.
Step 1: Cut 2 fingers off the stretchy glove and place one finger inside the other, with the fingertip sticking out and the cut end inside the other fingertip. The inner finger is the tongue inside the outer finger’s mouth. The cut edges of the outer finger will be folded in to create the new lips.
Step 2: Carefully cut open the doll’s embroidered mouth. Cut a little bit more than the width of the mouth, to allow it to open wider. Use your finger to separate the top and bottom of the mouth and press the embroidered lips into the hole to support the new mouth.
Step 3: Insert the new mouth & tongue (tucked glove fingers) into the hole you created. Use your finger to push it in deeply, making sure that the tongue (glove fingertip) lies flat inside the mouth (cut edge of the glove finger). Extend the edges of the new mouth to cover the outer edges of the doll’s embroidered lips.
Step 4: Fold the edges of the glove against the doll’s face, so the cut end doesn’t unravel, and sew the folded edge along the outer edge of the doll’s (embroidered) lips. Tack the corners of the new lips upward, to create a smile. Sew a philtrum into the top lip by tacking down the top center.
Step 5 (optional): To demonstrate tongue tie, tie a knot at the end of your thread and insert your sewing needle from the doll’s chin into the doll’s mouth, then tack the tongue down through the chin. Pull the knot down, so the thread has room to let the tongue elevate and extend, and knot the other end of the thread. The knots let you pull the tongue back down; hold them tightly to show how a tie keeps the tongue from moving properly.
To weight the doll after completing the mouth, carefully open the seams along the neck/back and arms and legs. I used florist sand (from IKEA) in some of my dolls, and organic cedar chips (kitty litter!) in others. I put the weight material into zip top snack bags or sandwich bags and carefully stuffed the bags into the holes in the doll, then sewed the seams shut. They weigh between 2 and 4 pounds when stuffed. I carry a lightweight doll in my bag for home visits (only the head is weighted, to allow the doll to “look up” to latch). We give heavier dolls to give the pregnant couples in our Breastfeeding 101 classes. You can make your doll as heavy as you want by adding more or less weighting material.
Tova, this is an absolutely brilliant, affordable, easy option that is helpful and useful in so many ways. Thank you so much for your willingness to share with us. You have no idea how many breastfeeding families around the world will be helped due to your creativity. Do you have a helpful, DYI solution that you’ve “MacGyvered” or hacked to make a product that can help breastfeeding families? If so, don’t be shy! Please share it with Galactablog!