Breaking News
January 22, 2019 - Amgen And UCB Receive Positive Vote From FDA Advisory Committee In Favor Of Approval For Evenity (romosozumab)
January 22, 2019 - Does being bilingual make children more focused? Study says no
January 22, 2019 - Study reveals new genes and biological pathways linked to osteoarthritis
January 22, 2019 - FSU study provides better understanding of spinal cord injuries
January 22, 2019 - Delaying bath for newborn babies increases breastfeeding rates, finds study
January 21, 2019 - Many parents still try non-evidence-based cold prevention methods for children
January 21, 2019 - High Levels of Activity, Motor Ability Linked to Better Cognition
January 21, 2019 - Killer blows? Knockout study of pair of mouse MicroRNA provides cancer insight
January 21, 2019 - Buffalo researchers receive grant to quicken development of generic equivalents of contraceptives
January 21, 2019 - One-third of pregnant women do not believe cannabis is harmful to their fetus
January 21, 2019 - Fiderstat could be used as chemopreventative drug for intestinal cancers caused by APC gene mutations
January 21, 2019 - Modifying healthcare delivery practices may improve discussions between youth and healthcare providers
January 21, 2019 - UNIST researcher named as recipient of Merck’s 2018 Life Science Awards
January 21, 2019 - How Getting a Flu Shot Could Save Your Life
January 21, 2019 - Surgical adhesions can be treated, prevented in mice
January 21, 2019 - Increased physician-targeted marketing associated with higher opioid overdose deaths
January 21, 2019 - Researchers uncover specific microbial signatures of intestinal disease
January 21, 2019 - Simple blood test reliably detects signs of Alzheimer’s damage before symptoms
January 21, 2019 - Study to investigate new targeted oral treatments for severe asthma
January 21, 2019 - Plan Your Plate | NIH News in Health
January 21, 2019 - Fecal occult blood test may improve CRC outcomes in some
January 21, 2019 - Blood test detects Alzheimer’s disease years before symptoms develop
January 21, 2019 - Mount Sinai joins with Paradigm and ReqMed to repurpose drug for treatment of MPS
January 21, 2019 - FDA Advisory Committee Votes on Zynquista (sotagliflozin) as Treatment for Adults with Type 1 Diabetes
January 21, 2019 - The causes and complications of snoring
January 21, 2019 - Placenta adapts and compensates when pregnant mothers have poor diets or low oxygen
January 21, 2019 - New implant could restore the transmission of electrical signals in injured central nervous system
January 21, 2019 - Rapid-acting fentanyl test strips found to be effective at reducing overdose risk
January 21, 2019 - Coronary Artery Calcium May Help Predict CVD in South Asians
January 21, 2019 - The mystery of the super-ager
January 21, 2019 - Scientists develop smart microrobots that can change shape depending on their surroundings
January 21, 2019 - Keep Moving to Keep Brain Sharp in Old Age
January 21, 2019 - Despite progress, gay fathers and their children still structurally stigmatized
January 21, 2019 - New drug for treating liver parasites in vivax malaria
January 21, 2019 - Merck recognized with 2018 Life Science Industry Award for best use of social media
January 21, 2019 - Coeur Wallis equips the canton of Valais with 260 SCHILLER defibrillators
January 21, 2019 - Scientists propose quick and pain-free method for diagnosing kidney cancer
January 21, 2019 - Signs of memory loss could point to hearing issues
January 21, 2019 - HeartFlow Analysis shows highest diagnostic performance for detecting coronary artery disease
January 21, 2019 - How Much Caffeine is Too Much?
January 21, 2019 - Take a timeout before you force your child to apologize
January 21, 2019 - Scientists design two AI algorithms to improve early detection of cognitive impairment
January 21, 2019 - Novel therapy for children with chronic hormone deficiency provides lifeline for parents
January 21, 2019 - Bioethicists call for oversight of poorly regulated, consumer-grade neurotechnology products
January 21, 2019 - Study shows hereditary hemochromatosis behind many cancers and joint diseases
January 21, 2019 - Short bouts of stairclimbing throughout the day can improve cardiovascular health
January 20, 2019 - Liver Transplant Survival May Improve With Race Matching
January 20, 2019 - Study implicates hyperactive immune system in aging brain disorders
January 20, 2019 - Cancer Diagnosis May Quadruple Suicide Risk
January 20, 2019 - Parkinson’s disease experts devise a roadmap
January 20, 2019 - Research brings new hope to treating degenerative brain diseases
January 20, 2019 - Scientists pinpoint a set of molecules that wire the body weight center of the brain
January 20, 2019 - Researchers get close to developing elusive blood test for Alzheimer’s disease
January 20, 2019 - UCLA researchers demonstrate new technique to develop cancer-fighting T cells
January 20, 2019 - Researchers discover how cancer cells avoid genetic meltdown
January 20, 2019 - Exercise makes even the ‘still overweight’ healthier: study
January 20, 2019 - University of Utah to establish first-of-its-kind dark sky studies minor in the US
January 20, 2019 - School-based nutritional programs reduce student obesity
January 20, 2019 - Improved maternity care practices in the southern U.S. reduce racial inequities in breastfeeding
January 20, 2019 - New enzyme biomarker test indicates diseases and bacterial contamination
January 20, 2019 - Republican and Democratic governors have different visions to transform health care, say researchers
January 20, 2019 - Researchers discover that spin flips happen in only half a picosecond in the course of a chemical reaction
January 20, 2019 - Suicide Risk Up More Than Fourfold for Cancer Patients
January 20, 2019 - Doctors find 122 nails in Ethiopian’s stomach
January 20, 2019 - UV disinfection technology eliminates up to 97.7% of pathogens in operating rooms
January 20, 2019 - Researchers discover mechanism which drives leukemia cell growth
January 20, 2019 - AHA: Infection as a Baby Led to Heart Valve Surgery for Teen
January 20, 2019 - Injection improves vision in a form of childhood blindness
January 20, 2019 - Multiple sclerosis therapies delay progression of disability
January 20, 2019 - New study finds infrequent helmet use among bike share riders
January 20, 2019 - Clearing up information about corneal dystrophies
January 20, 2019 - Researchers describe new behavior in energy metabolism that refutes existing evidence
January 20, 2019 - New study takes first step toward treating endometriosis
January 20, 2019 - Researchers find how GREB1 gene promotes resistance to prostate cancer treatments
January 20, 2019 - Replacing Sitting Time With Activity Lowers Mortality Risk
January 20, 2019 - A simple, inexpensive intervention makes birth safer for moms and babies in parts of Africa
January 19, 2019 - New anti-inflammatory compound acts as ‘surge protector’ to reduce cancer growth
January 19, 2019 - Significant flaws found in recently released forensic software
January 19, 2019 - New Leash on Life? Staying Slim Keeps Pooches Happy, Healthy
January 19, 2019 - Men and women remember pain differently
Are newborns ugly? Research says newborns rated ‘less cute’ than older babies

Are newborns ugly? Research says newborns rated ‘less cute’ than older babies

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Parents who aren’t feeling that magical bond with their newborn babies need not panic.

It turns out that adults find the faces of babies most appealing at around the six-month mark, says new research from Brock University.

“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. The bonding will build and grow over time,” says Tony Volk, Child and Youth Studies Associate Professor.

In their study, Volk, graduate student Prarthana Franklin and undergraduate student Irisa Wong showed 142 research participants photos of 18 babies taken shortly after birth, at three months old and at six months old.

The researchers asked participants how willing they would be to adopt the babies based on their perceptions of the children’s cuteness, happiness, health and self-resemblance.

“We noticed adults rated the newborns as the least attractive and the six month olds had the highest ratings across all of the facial cues,” says Franklin, the lead author of the study titled “Are Newborns’ Faces Less Appealing?”

“That was interesting because usually we think that the younger children are, the cuter they are,” she says, adding that their study showed “a lower limit of three months old that’s the preferred age compared to newborns.”

Babies, whether they be human or animal, possess certain physical traits that adults consider to be “cute.” In human babies, these could include big eyes, chubby cheeks, broad smiles and cooing noises. Research going back to the 1940s theorized that a baby’s cuteness brings out nurturing and caretaking behaviour in adults, which ensures infant survival.

If this is the case, newborn babies should be seen as being the cutest of all, as they’re the most vulnerable and they need the most protection and care, says Volk. Initially, he and his research team were puzzled by their finding that adults’ perception of cuteness intensifies six months or so after the babies are born.

“We wondered, why would there be this specific peak?” says Volk. “But then, we read the medical literature, which was almost universal in that six month olds are better at surviving illnesses than younger babies.”

Other studies and reports worldwide shows that most infanticide or abandonment occurs within the first few weeks of an infant’s life. Volk says the delay in cuteness perception is an adult-driven adaptation that may be a leftover from evolutionary times when resources were scarce and infant diseases were deadly.

“Hunter-gatherers who already had a child they were nursing, couldn’t nurse two children at once,” says 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,” says Volk. “A delay in attachment makes those early losses easier to cope with.”

Volk identifies two other possible factors for the delay in baby-parent bonding: that it can take up to a month for babies to develop the ability to consciously smile out of happiness; and that fathers who are actively involved with their babies tend to notice that their months-old offspring look like them, which increases the fathers’ bonding.

It turns out babies may also take their time bonding. Previous research shows babies develop a preference for a specific caregiver and experience “separation anxiety” when away from that person at around the seven-month mark.

The Brock research team urges parents and society to come up with ways of bonding with newborns such as infant massage, spending lots of time with the baby, skin-to-skin contact and supporting new parents materially and psychologically as much as possible.


Explore further:
Survival rates for newborns in America nearly same as Sri Lanka, UNICEF finds

More information:
Prarthana Franklin et al. Are newborns’ faces less appealing?, Evolution and Human Behavior (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2018.01.003

Journal reference:
Evolution and Human Behavior

Provided by:
Brock University

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles