Military life can be difficult for small children, especially with the prolonged absences of their service parent due to trainings and deployments.  One North Carolina company has come up with a product to help ease these transitions a little.

Courtesy of Daddy Dolls

Tricia Dyal started Daddy Dolls 15 years ago with a friend, in order to get Hug-a-Hero dolls into the hands of children whose parents were deployed.

She was inspired to create these after her aunt made a special daddy doll for her daughter during a deployment.

Affectionately called “Daddy dolls”, each doll features a photo of the child’s hero on one side with a complementary fabric of choice on the other.  There’s also an option to make a two sided doll with the right photos for each side.

From Tricia and Nikkie, the founders:

After seeing the amazing response from our own children, we realized that there were many children out there, not just military, that could use a doll of that special someone that was far away. Our children not only play with their Daddy Dolls, but also rely on them for strength during trying times like doctor’s visits or when they need an “owie” kissed. Sometimes only that distant loved one will do! They have also become a part of story time and grocery shopping.

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Hug-A-Hero dolls make all the babies smile!! ??

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Parents can order their dolls right on the website, with a construction time of 1-3 weeks for custom orders.

Daddy Dolls even shares how to find the perfect photo to have put on the doll and will edit out backgrounds to clean up the images.

Non-military families can order as well for long distance relatives, as well as sponsoring a doll for a military child.

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Hug-A-Hero dolls make all the babies smile!! ??

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For kids, being able to take mom or dad along with them while their parent is deployed or in training is a huge source of comfort and helps relieve a little bit of the anxiety that comes with not seeing their parents for 9 months or more.

For more information on how to a get a hug-a-hero doll made or how to sponsor one for a child, you can visit their website here. Make sure you use promo code KIDS15 at checkout and it will take 15% off your order!

Want more hero ideas?


Check out how hugs make a real difference in your kids!

This brother surprises sister after being stationed abroad for 3 years!

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  1. My cousin passed away suddenly and his children that he left behind bereft. He had three little children by his second wife and while they were given a daddy doll, his other two children have been left out. How do I order two of these and any chance you still have the photo that was used? His current wife refuses to give a shirt that belonged to him for the back of the doll, but my son has a shirt that is close to the one used for the previous dolls. Can I send you a shirt for the back of the doll, and how or where do I send it? I also need to know if you can use the same picture if it was saved from the original order. We had dolls made for my grandchildren by my daughter in law when my son was in Afghanistan. Picture in military and has been on four tours of duty there and Iraq.
    Thank you so much.

  2. Hi there! Unfortunately we are not able to give free dolls to children of deployed parents. We wish we could!! It’s the very reason why Hug-A-Hero (Daddy Dolls) was created. We do offer discounts to military families. They may use the code MILITARY15 at checkout to receive 15% off their entire order. Last year a company generously donated 500 dolls to be distributed to children with deployed parents so I think this was where this article started from. Unfortunately, those dolls have been issued. Dolls are available for anyone missing their loved one/hero. While we started out because our children’s fathers were deployed, it has grown into something much bigger than we could have ever imagined. We offer first responder dolls, lineman dolls, bereavement dolls, grandparent dolls – anyone! Since COVID, another popular doll is a grandchild doll. Where the child is the doll for the grandparent. The possibilities are endless. We also offer voice recorders so you can listen to your loved one’s voice as often as you wish. It’s just another way to keep them a bit closer when they’re away. Please feel free to reach out to us should you have any questions. We wish we could offer free dolls to children of deployed parents, but, sadly that is not the case. We appreciate and love our military families. We are grateful for your service and sacrifice.

  3. Hello. My husband will be deploying soon, and would love to get a daddy doll for both my boys. They are 4 and 3 years old. I clicked on the link, so I need a coupon code? Or what are the steps to get the FREE daddy dolls.
    Thank you.

  4. My brother just landed in Guantanamo Bay for his fourth two leaving his wife and two small children at home. I would love the kids to have this! Thank you!

  5. I want freeze for my 2 granddaughters. They are 11 and 13. Dads been gone since last June and not expected home till August. 14 months at least. They are not bitty kids but still miss him terribly. I have to get pics of him then I will be ordering. Thankyou for such a wonderful idea. I think I might need one too!!!!

  6. When we lived near Vandenberg AFB, CA, I made Raggety Ann dolls with Mom or Dads faces on it. It started with a young man who wanted one of his mother so when Granny came to visit, his daughter knew her face.

  7. My husband has been deployed for 6 months and I’m wondering how I can for these deployed Dolls for my kids.

  8. I have a nephew that is deployed for an unspecified time in Dubai. He has a 3 year old and an 8 month old. What are the steps I need to take to get his children daddy dolls?