The first baby dolls I bought for my granddaughters were what my mother had bought for my daughters, Madame Alexander Pussycat and Victoria. They are high quality dolls and sought by many collectors for display. Although moderately expensive, they are delightful to hold and love, and to dress and redress. Little girls love them. Current ones are made of a vinyl composition and have a lifelike look.
When I ventured to another brand, I chose ZAPF. These dolls are more expensive and most buyers choose them for display or collecting. The baby dolls are also vinyl composition (hard) with a smooth feel. Bodies are cloth so the baby can be cuddled. The artist collection baby dolls are hand painted and extremely realistic. The play dolls by Zapf are very affordable. The vinyl is similar to that of many inexpensive play dolls. If you decide on a higher end baby doll, look on ebay and be patient. Often you will find one for 75% off or even more. Be aware, however, that since they are no longer made in Germany, sometimes they are pricey.
They are expensive in the artist designed series and much less so in the play dolls. The artist designed dolls are very realistic and beautifully dressed. Again, most are bought by collectors or for display. If you find one at a good price on ebay, you may want to consider seeing one in your favorite child's arms. Aurelia is an example of a baby/toddler that would be a good choice. Elegantly dressed, with human hair and gorgeous eyes, she nestles into the child's arms beautifully. I recommend the expensive models for 5 up. HEART AND SOUL
These babies are priced in a range between the Madame Alexander Pussycat and Victoria and the Zapf and Gotz babies. They may be made of a hard vinyl or a silicone mix. The vinyl will feel very smooth, almost silky, and the silicone will have a softer, less resistant feel. Watch carefully for them on ebay. They are well dressed, often very expensively, and sometimes can be bought at a nice price. Alina, for example, wears a gorgeous christening gown and cap, topped by a mohair sweater accented by faux pearls.
These dolls are often priced well below retail on ebay. If you find one of the cuddly babies, consider it. Most babies which are cuddly, in any brand, have cloth bodies. Again, composition is vinyl and bodies are cloth.
These affordably priced realistic babies can be bought on ebay at extremely attractive prices. They are cute and cuddley and popular both with collectors and those who want to give them to children. Again, soft bodies and vinyl.
The Adora dolls came along in competition with Middleton at a lower price point. They closely resemble the Middleton babies and offer a very wide variety. They make excellent dolls for play, or for collection as the line as significantly expanded.
NOTE: Whether noted as vinyl, silicone, silicone vinyl, or resin, the dolls are made of polymers, synthetics of the plastic family. The composition is different according to the mix of the manufacturer and any element added. Waltershauser, a very high end company no longer making their artist dolls in Germany, patented "biggidur" an extremely lifelike vinyl designed to replicate the look of porcelain.