Best American Girl Dolls

Updated December 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

17 Models Considered
5 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
212 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best American Girl dolls

Last Updated December 2019

Ever since they became a sensation in the 1980s and 1990s, American Girl dolls have remained beloved companions. Kids can identify with the unique backstories that focus on coming-of-age experiences. The stories also inspire children to chase their dreams, welcome new challenges, and forge new friendships.

American Girl dolls are geared toward ages 4 through 12, though many adults also collect them. The dolls are dressed in personality-inspired outfits that also take time and setting into consideration, particularly the Historical Characters line. You can even choose a doll who looks just like you from the Truly Me or Create Your Own line. Consumers also choose dolls based on a connection to their story. Julie, for example, is a spirited American Girl of the 1970s who adapts to major life changes, such as her parents’ divorce and living in post-Vietnam America. Every doll offers a perspective and a relatable story, so kids naturally gravitate toward these educational companion dolls.

A new friend is just around the corner, which is why we’ve assembled this definitive buying guide on American Girl dolls, including some of our favorites. We’re exploring the entire collection to help you find the right one to invite into your home.

American Girl dolls are expensive. That means the recipient should be capable of properly caring for a doll on their own to avoid expensive repairs or, at worst, a broken doll.

Key considerations

There are several categories of American Girl dolls, each geared to particular ages and interests.

Girl of the Year dolls

Girl of the Year dolls celebrate a character whose interests and experiences are relevant and contemporary. These 18-inch American Girl dolls offer a cross-section of modern America with real-world interactions. They’re designed to give kids a glimpse into lives around the country — lives that may be much different than the child’s — while illustrating that certain life experiences are shared nonetheless. Blaire, for example, is the 2019 Girl of the Year. She lives on a farm that hosts weddings and other events. The story also portrays her experience with food allergies, as well as financial and technological hardships her family experiences in a rural area.

WellieWishers dolls

The 14.5-inch WellieWishers dolls are geared toward kids ages five and up. These five American Girls have vastly different personalities, and they learn more about one another by stepping into each other’s shoes — or in this case, wellies. American Girl launched WellieWishers in 2016 to provide dolls and age-appropriate stories for children who are too young for the full-size dolls.

Historical Character dolls

The 18-inch Historical Character dolls embrace different eras and places in American history, such as Kaya, a Nez Perce in 1764, or Kit, whose story takes place in the 1930s. Kids learn about different cultures and societies through the dolls’ authentic backstories. These dolls’ outfits are designed to reflect the fashions in their respective eras, such as Josephina’s moccasins from 1824 or Samantha’s white bloomers from 1904.

Personalized dolls

American Girl’s 18-inch Truly Me and Create Your Own dolls are designed to look just like the child who owns them. Unlike other American Girl dolls, these have open-book personalities and backstories, so children can use their imagination to create their own story and build their doll’s world.

The Truly Me dolls offer a limited number of features, such as eye and hair color, while the Create Your Own dolls offer the ultimate personalization experience. The latter are better if your child prefers a specific hairstyle, outfit, skin tone, or accessories. While Truly Me dolls are available from more than one retailer, Create Your Own dolls are American Girl exclusives. For these, you’ll need to navigate their website to place your custom order.

Bitty Baby dolls

The 15-inch Bitty Baby dolls represent a newer line geared toward ages three and up. These dolls come with a sleeper outfit and, unlike other American Girl dolls, they don’t have any set backstory or narrative. Bitty Baby dolls are intended to foster nurturing behavior and are often purchased for kids who are preparing for a new member of the household to arrive.

American Girl doll accessories

Outfits: American Girl dolls come with one outfit, which may consist of a single layer, such as a blouse and skirt or incorporate several layers like cardigans or jackets. Dolls also come with shoes, which are unique in their own right. Not only are they easy to put on and take off, but they feature fine details that are appropriate to the doll’s story and era. Some dolls come with accessories that are central to their overall narrative, such as Samatha’s velvet purse. Additional outfits and accessories can also be purchased for American Girl dolls.

Books: Many American Girl dolls come with the first book in their character’s series. Some dolls offer four or more books for kids who finish the first installment and want to read more. The books feature illustrations and easy-to-read fonts with stories in which the American Girl characters typically face a challenge and learn a lesson.

EXPERT TIP

While American Girl dolls are built to last through years of use, both indoors and outdoors, it’s best to keep them away from moisture, inclement weather, and extreme heat.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Hair

Hair is made from top-quality Kanekalon fibers. These are sewn into a cap that is glued to the doll’s head. Most American Girl dolls have straight or curly hair in various shades of blonde, brown, black, or red. More recently, American Girl dolls have adopted more diversity in hairstyles and textures, particularly in the Create Your Own doll line.

Eyes

The eyes on American Girl dolls remain open when the doll is upright and close when it’s horizontal. As is the case with the hair, the eyes and eyelashes come in a variety of colors. Eyebrows are painted on the forehead and complement both the eyes and hair.

Body

American Girl dolls have movable arms, legs, and heads. Full-size dolls typically have a cloth body and plastic arms, whereas many smaller dolls have all-plastic bodies. The construction changes as American Girl updates its designs to refine the quality and features. What always remains the same, however, is the fact that the company’s dolls are always built to high standards for superior quality.

DID YOU KNOW?

In addition to dolls and their stories, American Girl has a series of books dedicated to arts and crafts, body image, and brain-teasing puzzles.

Accessories

Hair brush: American Girl Hair Brush for Dolls
The hair on American Girl dolls requires brushing to look its best. We recommend this brush, sold exclusively by American Girl, which has bristles that are properly spaced to effortlessly move through the Kanekalon fibers. The wooden handle and metal teeth have the quality of a real brush, and it’s easy for little hands to hold.

Doll storage case: The New York Doll Collection Travel Case
Take your American Girl doll on the road in her very own travel case. We like this soft case from The New York Doll Collection, which holds one 18-inch doll and includes compartments for accessories. The lightweight, bright pink bag comes with a handle for easy carrying.

American Girl doll prices

Each American Girl line has a distinct price bracket. The price sometimes drops as new releases are rolled out, but for the most part, they remain consistent. As certain American Girl dolls become more collectible, their prices rise.

Mini dolls cost between $25 and $60.

WellieWishers and Bitty Baby dolls cost $60.

Truly Me dolls cost $100.

Girl of the Year and Historical Character dolls cost between $100 and $175.

EXPERT TIP

If you’d like to outfit your American Girl doll with earrings or a hearing aid, send her to the Doll Hospital. Both are permanent piercings, so make sure you’re 100% sure you’d like them before moving forward.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Brush the doll’s hair gently. The hair on American Girl dolls is designed to be brushed and styled. It’s best to avoid harsh brushing and pulling so the hair doesn’t detach from the doll.
  • Use metal-free elastic bands to style hair. Hair ties for humans are often too rough on the more delicate hair of American Girl dolls. Stick to soft scrunchies and elastic bands instead.
  • Have an American Girl doll party. Invite fellow enthusiasts for an American Girl-themed party. Introduce the guests and dolls to one another to discover similar interests and hobbies. 
  • Wash doll clothing gently. The American Girl doll’s clothing should be hand-washed in gentle detergent and laid flat to dry. If clothing has special materials, like plush or glitter, it will usually come with specific care instructions.

Other products we considered

Your child will like getting to know the American Girl WellieWishers Emerson Doll. Emerson loves the spotlight and channels her charisma to keep her fellow WellieWishers laughing and smiling. She comes with a pink and purple ballet-inspired outfit, featuring a tulle skirt and pointe shoe wellies. Emerson’s curly pigtails are tied in pink tulle, and she has adorable fringe bangs.

The 2018 Girl of the Year American Girl Luciana Vega Doll is out of this world — literally. She wears a dress with an intergalactic pattern complemented by iridescent boots and a streak of purple in her hair. Luciana is an inquisitive stargazer who loves all things astronomy and shares her knowledge to inspire your young one to learn about the cosmos.

For a trip back in time, we recommend the 6-inch 2014 American Girl Samantha Mini Doll. Samantha was one of the first American Girls, and in this new set you’ll get a mini abridged version of the first book in her series. Her fin de siècle pink-and-white dress features a velour sash and lace trim. Samantha and her book are essential travel companions for the American Girl enthusiast.

Many young fashion enthusiasts are introduced to sewing and clothing construction when they’re inspired to design and create outfits for their American Girl dolls. There are plenty of doll patterns, and kids’ sewing machines are safe and straightforward to use.

FAQ

Q. Should I keep the box for my American Girl doll?
A.
The box is spacious and durable, which is why many consumers keep it to store their American Girl doll or accessories. If you intend to collect American Girl dolls, it’s best to keep the boxes, along with any packaging. Having the doll in its original packaging adds significant resale value, and it’s even more valuable if it’s in mint or very new condition. 
 

Q. Is it okay to mix and match American Girl doll accessories between characters and collections?
A.
Absolutely. While each character has her own line of accessories and books, they’ll fit any American Girl dolls of the same size. Some consumers purchase accessories and outfits from other characters instead of purchasing the doll itself.
 

Q. What is the American Girl Doll Hospital?
A.
If your doll needs to be repaired or cleaned, you’ll have to send it to the American Girl Doll Hospital. The doll can be sent directly to American Girl or dropped off at an approved location. It takes between two and four weeks for repairs, or longer around holidays. When your American Girl doll comes home, she’ll have a Certificate of Good Health, a “get well” card, ID bracelet, and even a hospital gown. Keep in mind there’s a fee for repairs as well as shipping.
 

Q. My child finished most of the American Girl books. Are there other stories to read?
A.
American Girl churns out new releases regularly. You can subscribe to the company’s email list to hear about them. In terms of other literature, consider exploring Little Women, Babysitters Club books, or Sweet Valley Kids books. The Sweet Valley series is especially popular because the series “grows” with the reader into more advanced installments that detail middle school, high school, college, and beyond. Kids may also enjoy reading historical fiction or historical narratives, such as those by Ann Rinaldi.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Sian
    Sian
    Writer
  • Stacey
    Stacey
    Writer

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