A new study claims that babies who resemble their dads get to spend more bonding time with them and thus are more likely to be healthier during the first year of life.
“Awww, he looks just like his dad!” How many of you have heard this about your little one? Once a baby is born, family and friends will naturally remark whether a baby looks like dad or their mum.
As a baby grows and develops, their facial appearance, as well as their personality also starts to change.
While looking more like one parent is believed to be caused by genetic factors, its effects go beyond that. It can even influence parenting, and importantly, improve the baby’s health, says a new study.
Baby looks like dad? Then dad will be more motivated to care for them!
It all boils down to mum and dads level of parental investment, and what motivates positive parenting efforts.
According to the study’s researchers, fathers whose babies bear a striking resemblance to them influences how engaged they are as a parent.
“Those fathers that perceive the baby’s resemblance to them are more certain the baby is theirs, and thus spend more time with the baby,” explains professor Solomon Polachek to Medical Daily.
Fathers no doubt play an important role in childrearing. If they are involved in a child’s upbringing, Polachek believes this “manifests itself in the health of the child.”
A dad’s involvement in the caregiving and supervision of their kids can improve a child’s health
The study’s researchers observed 715 families registered by the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing (FFCW). These families had kids who lived solely with their mums.
Though fathers lived apart from them, their resemblance served as “a paternity cue used by men especially for making time-investment decisions.”
“We find a child’s health indicators improve when the child looks like the father,” explains the study’s researchers. “The main explanation is that frequent father visits allow for greater parental time for caregiving and supervision, and for information gathering about child health and economic needs.”
It’s not that dads don’t love babies who don’t resemble them, but the study believes some dads need motivation. Whereas mums are naturally caring, regardless of who their baby looks like.
“Because women do not need facial resemblance cues to decide whether to provide care, we expect baby looks affect child developmental outcomes only through a father’s investments,” said the study.
Though having a dad around is of course not the sole determinant of a a good childhood, it surely helps.
What’s more, it would also be unfair to generalise about parental investment, as family dynamics differ across countries and cultures.
For those who are co-parenting, this study could be even more motivation to stay involved in a child’s life.
But regardless of whether you believe this study’s claims, there is not enough scientific research that can fully define the lasting impact of being a hands-on and loving parent.