American Girl dolls — The Bump
Pre-School

American Girl dolls

So, my almost 4 year old DD got a hold of the American Girl catalog that came in the mail the other day and is now totally obsessed with one of the dolls. She talks about it daily - wants to put it on her list for Santa, etc.

I know they are meant for older girls (company recommends 8+) but has anyone gotten one for a 4 or 5 year old? She has no interest in the Bitty Baby or I would get her one of those. They are just so pricey... any advice or thoughts? Thanks!

Re: American Girl dolls

  • Target and Walmart have generic ones.  I know my daughter would not be able to take care of the hair let alone treat her gently enough to keep her nice. 
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  • My daughter got one in August. She just turned 4 last month. We were going to hold off for a bit (aka a couple of years), but McKenna is the doll of the year, so it was meant to be ;)  Anyways, we got it for her while in NYC, and she got to enjoy the entire experience.  And she's been very responsible with it, taking care of her, etc, yet not quite attached to her hip yet.  I've been buying the 18" doll clothes elsewhere (Target, online, etc).  

    I don't think she would have been as excited and understand how important it is to take care of it if she hadn't gotten it at the store.  The entire experience made her think that it was a very important and big deal.  So mission accomplished! 

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  • All I know is my niece got one for her 5th birthday and I have been shopping a lot.  Some good deals on amazon for the accessories.  
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  • I'm kind of embarrassed to say that we just got my 3 year old an American Girl doll last week. Someone had actually given DD a gift card to the American Girl store last Christmas, and I thought she was too young for it then. She's probably still too young for it now, but a friend of mine is having an American Girl birthday party for her daughter (who is turning 5) at the store here, and I didn't want DD to be the only one without a doll, so my mom and I made a day out of taking DD downtown to American Girl to pick out her doll. Not sure though that I would've bought her one if I didn't have the gift certificate. DD has been treating the doll pretty well so far, loves changing her clothes and doing her hair.
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  • DD is five and has two.  Embarrassed  One is a Kirsten doll my SIL passed on to her (Kirsten is a retired Swedish character, and DH's grandmother, who was part Swedish, gave them to her granddaughters), and the other is Rebecca, which my dad and sister got her at the store this past summer.  I had kind of had my eye on Rebecca for her anyway because my grandmother was from a Russian Jewish immigrant family in NYC in the early 20th century (yeah, I'm kind of into the historical characters), and fortunately she was the one DD liked the most.  I hadn't planned on getting her one until she was a bit older, but we were all at the mall together and my sister suggested going to the store, and so we left with a doll. 

    DD is pretty gentle with her dolls, and American Girls are very good quality (if they are in need of cleaning or repair, they have a doll hospital you can send your doll to, which I'm thinking of doing with her Kirsten doll), so I'm not worried about how they will hold up.  She is too young to really appreciate the historical aspect (although she does like the book that came with her doll), so I don't feel bound to buy Rebecca accessories for her at this point and have gotten some less expensive clothes and other things for 18" dolls.  Zulily often has sales on Dollie & Me matching sets for girls and dolls which are less expensive than a single doll outfit from AG.

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  • I would never buy a doll for a kid and expect them to treat it any better than other dolls. We have a Bitty Twin my DD likes a lot but she is still looking for a baby doll to sleep with and not a friend which is what an AG doll is supposed to be so it is in pretty good shape. If I got a big one it should have to have shorter hair and not the crazy long hair and accept that it will not look that pretty again, DD took out the pony tails before we even at lunch in the store.
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  • Thanks for all the thoughtful replies on this! I might take the "wait and see" approach given that DD started talking about it just a couple weeks ago. Maybe she'll lose interest - ha ha. Her birthday is coming up in a couple months, so we could always do that.  

    I do really like the concept of the American Girl dolls, particularly the historical characters. She went through the catalog and asked me to tell her about each one - though clearly she is too young to understand what the various stories mean. My fear is that she won't be able to take care of it, simply because she's young. The closest store is 3 hours away, so I guess we could make a big day of it - that's a really good idea in terms of seeing how special the dolls are. 

    Thanks again for the feedback - much appreciated!   

  • we got the same catalog and DD reacted the same way;  I refuse to buy a $100 doll for a 4yo;  considering the Target knock off;  she's too young to understand/appreciate the stories behind each doll and just wants something to play with.  I dont always agree with the age ranges the manufacturers suggest but in this case I do.
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  • Oh, I should probably add that we got the McKenna gymnastics movie first and she watched that over and over again before going to get her doll.  So she totally gets that McKenna the doll's character.  I think it completely depends on the individual child and maturity level.  
  • I did want to add that while I get that most kids will not be ready to care for the correctly until 8ish but most 8yo girls are outgrowing dolls, I'd you wait you could Miss the boat.
    Jen - Mom to two December 12 babies Nathaniel 12/12/06 and Addison 12/12/08
  • My sister in law started getting our niece the American Girls dolls at 5 years old. She is now 10 and STILL loves them and asks for the accessories yearly.
  • Get a generic one first(Wal-mart, Target, Hobby Lobby, even Menards has some) and see how she treats it.  If she can treat it well, plays with it alot and still asks for an AG doll then buy her one next year or for her birthday!
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