The child mortality rate in Victorian England was high; with a quarter of babies dying before their first birthday. For a select few, the ritual of séance became the only method of extending their cruelly short parenthood. Out of all spirit contact, child spirits were the most difficult to engage. With a limited or nonexistent vocabulary, conventional methods such as talking boards were not feasible. The child spirit was no different than a living child; shy and scared of initial interaction with unknown adults. New methods had to be devised to lure child spirits into the circle so that they could, once again, be reunited with their bereaved parents. Due to this problem, Hungarian spiritualist, Ciprian Zaharie, felt compelled to create an unusual and never before devised method for child spirit communication: the Christening Doll.
Many in contemporary society would see this as morbid, during Victorian times, Zaharie’s Christening Doll was one of the most sought after gift for the new mother. The doll would be given to the mother bald, with no eyes or teeth. Once the baby arrived and the new mother saw their eye color, she would take it to the doll maker where they will install the eye color to match her child’s. Once the child got their first haircut, the mother would again take it back to the doll maker for them to root the baby’s hair into the dolls head. The same was repeated when the baby lost their baby teeth. Inside the doll, was a tin compartment where the mother would place the physical nine month mother child attachment: the umbilical cord. This process was to give the Christening Doll, as much likeness and energy of the child, much like voodoo dolls.
Every day, the new mother would set aside a special time of the day for the baby to play with the doll and no other toy. As a child becomes attached to a toy in life, it can equally become as attached in death. Scheduling playtime with the doll would ensure that it would become the child’s favorite toy and they would, more easily be attracted to play with it even after their untimely death.