18/07/2012 12:54 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Mum Spends Hundreds On 'Real Life' Doll And Treats Him Like A Real Baby

Mum spends hundreds on 'real life' doll and treats him like a real baby SWNS

A mum who fears she will never have children again has spent hundreds of pounds on a "real life" doll instead of adopting.

Ashleigh Kirby, 36, changes "Finlay's" nappy, takes it shopping, for walks in a pram to the local park and has a cot in her bedroom so it can 'sleep' next to her.

The mum, from Andover, Hampshire, bought the £250 "reborn" online. Even though she already has a daughter, 12-year-old Becky, she bought the doll six months ago after splitting up with her partner because she feared she would never have children again.

She is now planning to 'expand' her family, with another doll to keep the first company, and is planning to call it Summer. 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.

"I always thought something was missing in my life and, when I saw the babies, immediately I knew what it was," Ashleigh told the Daily Mail.

"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."

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.

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.

The 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.

"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," said Ashleigh.

"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."

What do you make of Ashleigh's doll obsession?