“She can”t give me all the attention like she used to”: Mother spends more time with 250 “baby” doll than her own daughter
Ashleigh Kirby looks like any other proud mother pushing a pram through her local park.
But the “son” she keeps wrapped up to ward off the cold is actually an incredibly lifelike doll.
The 36-year-old, from Andover in Hampshire, also takes Finlay shopping, regularly changes his nappies and has spent hundreds of pounds on clothes for the 250 “Reborn” she bought online.
Ashleigh Kirby, pictured with one of her own children, 12-year-old Becky, treats her “baby doll” Finlay like one of her own
She has the doll – made to replicate a new-born – sleeping in a cot in her bedroom, where she keeps Finlay”s tiny clothes in a specially-bought wardrobe.
Ashleigh, who already has a 12-year daughter Becky, bought the doll six months ago after splitting up with her partner made her fear she would never have children again.
She is now planning to “expand” her family, with another doll to keep the first company, which she is planning to call Summer.
Ashleigh said she thought about adopting after separating from her partner but was “too lazy”.
The doll – made to replicate a new-born – sleeps in a cot in Ashleigh”s bedroom, where she keeps Finlay”s tiny clothes in a specially-bought wardrobe
She added: “I always thought something was missing in my life and, when I saw the babies, immediately I knew what it was.
“The dolls are a substitute for me. I am very maternal. I bought Finlay six months ago for 250 from a lady I found online.
“Half of my bedroom is taken up by his cot and I also have a pram, a car seat and a wardrobe of clothes.
“He wears a nappy which I change – although not as regularly as you would a real baby.
“I”d have liked to have met another man and had a brood of kids, but life didn”t work out like that.
Ashleigh, who separated from Becky”s father when she was just five, was desperate to add to her family but was worried about finding the right man
“I considered adoption, but I”m too lazy to go through the process. Real children are hard work – you worry all the time. With Finlay, it”s cuddle time all the time.”
Ashleigh, who separated from Becky”s father when she was just five, was desperate to add to her family but was worried about finding the right man.
Unemployed Ashleigh – who claims 13,000 a year in benefits – spent months painstakingly researching and designing the perfect doll
She took the drastic step of buying the incredibly lifelike doll – called “reborns” – after watching a documentary.
Unemployed Ashleigh – who claims 13,000 a year in benefits – spent months painstakingly researching and designing the perfect doll.
The dolls take four weeks to make and arrive in plastic kits of a head and four limbs – like Airfix models. The body is weighted with glass beads or steel shots to make it feel as life-like as possible. Each hair is meticulously added individually to the baby”s head and eyelids, which can take 40 hours to complete.
he dolls are then painted with veins and then layer upon layer of paint to build up the skin tones to give it a realistic look before being placed in a kiln to set. Each “reborn” has fingernails, milk spots, flaky skin and downy baby hair, and can weigh up to 9lbs.
Ashleigh spent months worrying about minute details such as Finlay”s red new-born skin tones and mousy blond hair. And now she walks alongside other mothers in her local park, where people regularly approach her and coo over her baby boy, assuming he”s real.
She added: “Sometimes I just play along with it. Looking at Finlay for the first time, there was a stronger bond than I had with Becky.
“There was an immediate rush of love. With Becky, I was so tired after the birth I didn”t feel as close to her.”
Becky admits she has hidden her “brother” from classmates and says she finds her mum”s obsession “weird”.
Ashleigh is now “expecting”another baby – a three-month-old girl she will call Summer, who will also cost 250
She said: “I find it creepy – I don”t really understand it. I don”t think mum prefers Finlay, but she can”t give me all the attention like she used to.”
Ashleigh is now “expecting”another baby – a three-month-old girl she will call Summer, who will also cost 250.
She said: “I can”t wait to have a baby girl in the flat. I wanted a slightly older baby as Finlay is very much new born.
“Summer will have long blond hair, I have seen pictures and she looks gorgeous.
“As she is a girl I am sure she will be spoilt with lots of new clothes.”
ArtistYvonne Walters, 56, who makes the dolls in Newquay, Cornwall said she is regularly contacted by people wanting to use them as a substitute forreal babies and even to replace dead ones.
DIY baby: The dolls take four weeks and arrive in plastic kits of a head and four limbs – like Airfix models
She said: “Some people find having the dolls therapeutic while others send pictures of babies that mean something to them. I can generally make one that”s similar.
“I”ve been approached by women who have lost babies and want a doll to remember them by.”
Yvonne,who also runs a guest house in Newquay, sells the dolls for thousands at a time and makes them by placing them in the oven, which acts as a kiln.
She added: “I don”t understand it myself but if people take solace in them then that”sOK as far as I”m concerned. The aim for me is to make them come alive.”
Bun in the oven: The dolls can sell for thousands and are made by placing them in the oven, which acts as a kiln