When my youngest was born, I, like so many parents introduced a transitional object, to help her navigate the tricky ‘me’- ‘not me’ discovery. Specifically, I am not actually part of her and so cannot, despite my best non-showering, non-sleeping, completely sacrificing myself on the alter of child-rearing efforts always be there with her. We had a soft fabric square with a bunny head on it (don’t even get me started on the time I left it somewhere and had to rip apart one of her favorite books to take the puppet bunny head out, quickly sew it together and give it to her to get her to sleep).
By the time she was 2, she’d outgrown the bunny and so I introduced her to Lulu.
She is now 5, and Lulu is still her favorite. Lulu travels everywhere with us. She sits on the plane with us (and hides in my bag because she’s afraid of the scanner at the airport), she visits doctors, receives checkups, makes doctor visits, and sometimes even goes to school with my eldest – she doesn’t go into the room, but waits patiently in her locker, just in case she is needed.
I drove my family crazy with my refusal to have lots of toys and dolls around for the first few years, and suffered many a ‘humorous’ comment about my ‘wacky parenting style’ but I’m glad I did. My daughter’s bond with Lulu is solid and sacred.
When it came time to selecting her first doll, I spent hours looking at dolls online and in shops. I wanted something soft, and cuddly, and comforting. I didn’t like most of the plastic dolls, and is it just me or do many of them look like they moonlight in horror films?
I started reading about the philosophy behind Steiner dolls and loved the fact that their faces had minimal expression – this way the child can project their own emotions onto the doll. This made sense to me, I mean it’s hard to convince yourself that your doll is scared when she is smiling brightly at you. So I started looking at Steiner dolls, I love that they are handmade, but to be honest, not all dolls are created equally. Finally, I found Ildiko of the Waldorf Doll Shop. Her dolls are gorgeous. And most importantly, their faces are so sweet (they even won my mother over, who was a very vocal skeptic of the ‘ugly faceless dolls’ I was insisting on buying). Ildiko makes all of her dolls by hand, from natural, breathable materials. She has the option for organic materials too. You can select the hair colour and style you want and the eye colour, to match with your kid. We now have two Lulu’s, my eldest’s has brown eyes and my youngest’s has blue eyes.
My eldest is on to her second Lulu, in part because she wanted hers to be the same as her sisters, and in part, because a very ‘helpful’ relative threw her in the washing machine… That’s the one thing about these dolls, they are stuffed with lambswool, so they need to be hand washed, and very gently at that. The wool inside will felt if it is agitated too much (so no wringing the doll out!) and the doll will sadly lose it soft, cuddliness.
My daughter’s love giving Lulu a bath, they’ve learned how to work the wool mix soap in and gently rinse her. My eldest, however, does not love waiting for her to dry, as she takes a good 24-36 hours of laying flat in the sun or under the heater – so summer is a great time to wash them! (My daughter can be quite anxious, so Lulu has become a really important part of our lives. We tend not to wash her very often, and definitely not when my daughter is going through a difficult transition)
Where to Buy:
These dolls can be found on Etsy, and through Facebook (the Australian Waldorf Buy and Swap group is a great resource for this). Or from Ildiko Duretz, she ships worldwide (and yes, the carbon miles from the UK to Australia are terrible. But I haven’t found a better option. Ildiko’s dolls remain the most beautiful ones I’ve found. So many dolls are manufactured in China or India or Nepal, and while some are supporting communities to cultivate a trade, they are still travelling a long distance to get to us.)
If you know of any other dolls, I would love to hear about them!