Craft group making 'dementia babies' to help bring back parenting memories

Dementia babies created by the Dereham Community Crafters

“A lot of research has been done regarding the benefits of the dementia dolls,” said Judy Rogers, chair of the Dereham Community Crafters. - Credit: Dereham Community Crafters

A group of local crafters are creating ‘dementia babies’ for care home residents suffering from the syndrome - and are keen for help from the community. 

“We’re currently looking for people who would be interested in making vintage clothes, knitted or sewn, from 1940s, 50s and 60s patterns for the babies,” said Judy Rogers, chair of the Dereham Community Crafters, adding that the group can supply patterns if necessary.

“A lot of research has been done regarding the benefits of the dementia dolls,” she said.

“Doll therapy has been proven in many cases to provide benefits. These include being a non-drug way of calming, soothing, and reducing stress and anxiety.

“Also improving mental clarity, because the task of caring for a baby is very familiar and can improve [one’s] mood, stimulate the brain, and even in some cases reduce aggressive behaviour.”  


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Ms Rogers said that through the use of the dolls, memories return from the time at which the dementia patient’s own children were born. 

A dementia baby created by the Dereham Community Crafters

“Each baby will arrive with a blanket, pram suit, night dress and other date-appropriate clothing," said Ms Rogers. - Credit: Dereham Community Crafters

“These memories are a key part of our dementia babies project - we don’t just give a nice soft-bodied cuddly doll, we dress ours in clothes that will be familiar to the recipients. 

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“Each baby will arrive with a blanket, pram suit, night dress and other date-appropriate clothing.   

“It takes a lot more work but we feel that the completed baby package will be the very best we can make it to help the patients,” she added.

Ms Rogers said the project had even attracted “very exciting” interest from a group of mental health students at the University of East Anglia, who are following the project as part of their course.

Once a certain number of the dolls have been crafted, the group will contact local care homes to find out how much interest each has in them, and how many would be welcomed.

The crafters had begun to plan the project several months before the pandemic, but were isolated from one another by the lockdowns. If restrictions are lifted on July 19, the group intends to restart its meetings at Dereham Library. 

If you would like to help the crafters with their project, please email derehamcommunitycrafters@mail.com or call Judy Rogers on 07368 394499. Sponsors are also welcome. 

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