Daddy Dolls: A Huggable Photo


When my husband was away on his last deployment, our daughter slept with a photo of her daddy under her pillow for the entire 10 months he was away. By the time he returned home, the photo was crumpled, tattered and torn almost to the point that you could no longer tell who was in the photo. But it was her photo, her reminder of Daddy and something physical that she could touch to remember him by. As she told me, she didn’t want to forget what he looked like. While I knew that she would never forget his face, this was a real fear for her.

Photos can hold such fond memories. They link us to others and remind us of our loved ones. As evidence of my daughter’s well-loved photo of her dad, pictures are powerful. During my husband’s deployment, I tried to take that precious photo and scan it. I tried to print it onto special paper that would transfer onto a t-shirt and a pillow case. But alas, none of my efforts worked. Our printer was worthless and once I finally did get the photo transferred onto a pillowcase, the image peeled off after the first few uses. With my efforts exhausted, I resorted to tapping the tattered photo one more time in hopes that it would survive until my husband’s return. If only I had heard of Daddy Dolls …

Daddy Dolls are cuddly soft dolls with an image of a loved one printed on one side. While my idea to print my husband’s photo onto a pillow case for our daughter would have worked, having a “doll” of my husband to cuddle with would have been a hundred times better in her opinion! According to the Daddy Doll website:

“Recommended by Child Psychologists, Our Original Daddy Dolls™ and Hug-A-Hero™ dolls, which feature our Brave Mommies or Distant Loved Ones have helped thousands of children cope with the stresses of separation. Whether you are deployed with the military, traveling for business, or a grandparent living across the country, our Daddy Dolls™ and Hug-A-Hero™ dolls will keep you close to their hearts and just a cuddle away.” (Daddy Dolls, Inc.)

I was thrilled to recently have been offered the opportunity to order and try out our very own Daddy Doll. The Daddy Dolls website is very easy to navigate and the ordering process could not have been more simple. All that is required is a simple head-to-toe photo of your loved one that will be used on the Daddy Doll. They do not ask you to do any editing to the background of the photo, as they will remove the background images before printing. The photo is printed on one side of the doll, with an optional message below the photo. For the other side of the Daddy Doll, a choice of fabric options are available, from individual branch uniform material to an aqua paisley print.  The back of the Daddy Doll also includes a Keepsake Pocket, perfect for holding special notes or mementos. An optional voice recorded can be inserted to add an even more personal touch.

Our Daddy Doll arrived at our doorstep in about 9 days after ordering. The kids were so excited to see a “mini-daddy” pulled from the box! I could not have been more impressed with the quality of the Daddy Doll. After my failed attempts to print and iron-on a photo, I was thrilled with the photo quality and softness. The way the Daddy Dolls are made uses high quality printing and micro-soft fabrics to ensure the photo is soft and will not peel away after much use. The Daddy Dolls are also machine washable, which I’m sure will come in handy after the many hugs ours will receive!

My kids have loved their Daddy Doll and it quickly disappeared into their rooms after it arrived. While it certainly is not the same as hugging her actual dad,  it is something that represents him that our daughter can give a physical hug in her moments of need. I have a feeling we will be ordering another Daddy Doll so each of our kids can hug Daddy each night! And while my generally camera-shy husband was less than thrilled to have his image blown up to doll-size, even he has to admit that Daddy Doll is pretty clever and will be a great comfort item for our kids during his upcoming deployment.

To learn more about Daddy Dolls and the other personalized products they offer, visit the Daddy Dolls website.

About the Author

The New Normal
The New "Normal" (aka Kris) is an Army National Guard wife of 6 years, married for 12 years, momma to two fantastic kiddos and caretaker of the household zoo. While not juggling the house, a full-time job, chauffeur duties and the kids increasingly busy social lives, she enjoys running, reading and sewing. She continues to navigate the ever-changing life with the National Guard, having survived her husband's first deployment without pulling all her hair out. Now the family gears up for her husband's second deployment that is quickly approaching. With training missions filing up the remaining weeks before they say "see you later" once again, the family works hard between school, work and activities to stop and enjoy every minute they have left together. The New "Normal" blogs about daily life and the craziness of military life over at her personal blog - The New "Normal" - attempting to make sense of the insanity with a bit of humor.
  • Amber

    LOVE our daddy doll! Best part is it isn’t destroyed by the wash :)

  • marmeedobbins

    My daughter loves hers. I love taking it everywhere with us and snapping “traveling gnome” pictures.

  • HGRB

    I know children have a hard time coping with separations, but I can’t be the only one that finds these dolls creepy. I mean, clearly they mean a lot to people and that’s awesome. But every time I see one, I get the hibee-gibees. I also hate talking animals of any type, so it’s not just *these* dolls.

    For the record, yes, I’d get one for my child if I thought it would help them.

  • Margaret

    Getting a Daddy Doll was one of the best things we did preparing for deployment. It helps if Daddy is smiling to keep the creepy factor down. I have been impressed with Daddy Dolls from the order process to how well it has held up after six months. After we got the 17″ doll our grade school girl started campaigning for the 3 foot high version too. I would highly recommend a Daddy Doll for every sweet kid that has a Daddy or Mommy going away on deployment. I will admit I say ‘hi’ to the Daddy Doll when I see him around the house. It’s nice to see his smiling face.