'Breathing' dolls with own birth certificates

A reborn doll crafted by Ms Linda Ho, a Singapore-based artist.
A reborn doll crafted by Ms Linda Ho, a Singapore-based artist.NEW PAPER FILE PHOTO

It is not that uncommon to find adults treating their dolls like they would children.

In the United States, Britain and several other Western countries, "reborn" dolls have spawned an entire industry over the past decade.

These dolls are crafted to resemble real babies, with mottled skin, soft hair and even battery-powered mechanisms that emit the sound of heartbeats. Depending on the sophistication of each artist - and the buyer's budget - the doll's chest can rise and fall as if it is "breathing", while its body can emit warmth.

Veins and birthmarks are painstakingly added, while hair is planted strand by strand.

Reborn dolls weigh as much as a typical baby and often have their own "birth certificates". Each can cost several thousand dollars.

A Singapore-based reborn doll artist, Ms Linda Ho, was featured in The New Paper last year.

While the dolls are collectors' items in themselves, grieving parents have been known to use them to cope with loss.

Such dolls are also bought by so-called "empty nesters" - older couples with grown-up children who have left home.

The dolls are so realistic that police in Australia and the US have reportedly smashed car windows to rescue what they thought were babies suffocating in the vehicles, only to find that they were dolls.

Tan Hui Yee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 31, 2016, with the headline ''Breathing' dolls with own birth certificates'. Print Edition | Subscribe