Most of us have been in a situation where we’ve seen a not-so-attractive newborn baby, but that hasn’t stopped us from oohing and ahhing over their tiny features and innocence. A recent study is revealing the truth about what most people think about babies fresh outta the oven. Because brand new babies seldom have chubby cheeks, full heads of hair, and big eyes, they aren’t typically categorized as ‘cute’ until they reach about six months old.
By six months old, they are usually sitting upright, sometimes a bit wobbly, and they are able to communicate with you through their many facial expressions and cooing.
Evidently, even parents are less likely to bond with their child’s attractiveness immediately and sometimes it takes time.
“We want to let parents know that if they’re not instantly grabbed by this baby as much as they thought they might be, then that’s normal,” said Lead author Professor Tony Volk from Brock University in Ontario. ‘The bonding will build and grow over time.”
Going into the study, the researchers assumed that younger babies would be viewed as more cute than older ones, however; the opposite turned out to be true. Their thoughts were that parents would most likely be more interested in caring for babies in the infant stages when they were more vulnerable, however; the first few weeks of life are typically when babies get abandoned.
“Hunter-gatherers who already had a child they were nursing, couldn’t nurse two children at once,” said Volk. “If you’re a peasant mother in medieval England and you only have enough food for one child, and if having two means they’re both likely to die, it’s best just to have one child. These are difficult decisions that humans have made for thousands of years. A delay in attachment makes those early losses easier to cope with.”
The study was executed by showing 142 individuals, photos of 18 babies that were taken just after birth, at three months old, and at six months old.
Upon seeing the photos, the volunteers were asked how likely they would be to adopt the babies based on their cuteness, happiness, perceived health, and self-resemblance.
The results of the study, which were published in the Journal of Evolution and Human Behavior, showed that the older babies were more likely to be viewed as ‘adoptable.’
This lack of affection for newborn babies has resulted in doctors and researchers pushing the ‘skin-to-skin-contact’ method the first few weeks after they are born.
One commenter shared her own story about her own newborn, who was born early…
“My daughter was 24 weeks early. She was a miracle, but not beautiful in the sense be8ng sought by this study. Lacking body fat her skin was ill-fitting for her body. Her beauty was in her being. Not that I could do anything to preserve her. That was in the care of the ICU miracle workers – midwives and Doctors. She has, in our eyes at least, developed into a beautiful girl ( now 10). Had we not had the NHS, I would have done everything to keep her alive despite her not being beautiful from the time of her birth. Her vulnerability was accentuated. In no way was I disappointed as I sat beside her incubator reading her stories to pass the time until I could hold her in my own hands.”