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Virtual babies aim to ease parenting pain.

Byline: By Megan Bolam

But a cuddle will cost up to pounds 130

A mum-of-three is offering childless couples the chance to become virtual parents.

Customers visiting Angel Wing Nursery, in Goathland Avenue, Longbenton, near Newcastle, can take their pick from ready-made babies.

Or they can order one in a variety of colours and features of their choice.

However, these babies won't lead to sleepless nights. For they are simply dolls made to look, feel and smell like the real thing.

Spiritualist Rosemary Scott, 51, and her husband Richard, 72, sell the "reborn babies" from a nursery at their family home.

Rosemary started up the business in September to help childless couples overcome the heartache of being unable to conceive.

She says she has been rushed off her feet ever since, taking at least 60 orders for the dolls, which cost up to pounds 130.

Rosemary claims the secret to her success is the unique form of cuddle therapy the dolls provide.

She said: "When you pick them up you don't know whether you are holding a real baby or not, because everything about the doll is real and has a baby's look, feel, weight and smell.

"We don't sell them to children, because they are not children's play dolls.

"These babies become heirlooms.

"There are an awful lot of ladies who can't have babies and people who love babies in general and the dolls are a way of providing them with cuddle therapy.

"You have business people who haven't got the time for babies, but it is nice for them to come home to a crib and a baby to cuddle.

"I also have a lot of customers in their 50s whose child-bearing days are over, but they say being able to cuddle a baby makes them feel serene.

"Then there are the elderly ladies who just need someone to love.

"There's a lot of people on their own out there and what is nicer than a cuddle?"

Rosemary initially imports the dolls from America before they are "reborn" to fit each unique order.

Each doll is bathed in baby shampoos to soften the skin and make them smell like the real thing.

They are then made unique - with hair colour, shape and even blemishes to fit the needs of each customer.

Rosemary covers their bodies with silicone, paints veins onto their limbs and sews mohair onto their heads.

She then delivers the dolls to addresses across the North-East, each with a soft toy, blanket, fresh nappy and adoption certificate.

She said: "Walking into the nursery in my home is like walking into a maternity unit with the cribs, cot, car seat, high chair.

"I have about 15 babies here at the moment and I have about five wardrobes full of clothes. I wash more baby clothes now than I ever did for my three children."
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Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Feb 9, 2004
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