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BASEHOR, Kan. – A Basehor woman who uses a lifelike baby doll as a form of treatment says the “Reborn” doll has been more therapeutic than traditional healing methods.

Like most moms, Penny Kolojaco can’t stop talking about her baby, Wyatt. But if you take a closer look and you’ll notice he isn’t a typical baby. He’s a Reborn doll.

“I just love him to death,” Kolojaco said. “It does everything a real baby does, but it’s a doll.”

People get the dolls for several reasons. Some collect them, while others use them for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. Kolojaco got her doll five months ago to help with her anxiety.

The 52-year-old, who has an adult daughter, worked at a daycare for 30 years. When she was forced to leave due to health reasons and had to move her mom into a nursing home, Kolojaco felt lonely.

“I cried a lot. I wasn’t eating. I was stressed out really bad. I couldn’t sleep,” she explained.

Kolojaco talked with her doctor about using a Reborn doll as a therapy tool. He told her to try it.

Months later, Kolojaco said the doll worked like a charm.

“I went to the doctor a couple of weeks ago, and he said my stress level is 30% down than what it was, and they took me off my anxiety medicine,” she said.

Wyatt keeps Kolojaco busy.

She dresses him, feeds him every four hours and changes his diapers. He’s also programmed with a heartbeat and cries if he’s without his pacifier too long.

“To me, he’s a tool that I’m using to help me cope with everything I’m going through,” she said.

Kolojaco takes Wyatt with her everywhere, including to the grocery store, library and bank. She said she can’t do that with her dog.

She said she doesn’t think her Reborn baby is strange — despite the odd looks she sometimes gets when she’s with it.

“I just kind of ignore that and just go on,” Kolojaco said. “He’s not creepy. It may not work for everybody, but thanks to Wyatt, I’m doing a lot better.”

Kolojaco paid less than $200 for her Reborn doll, but they can cost upwards of $4,000.