Why are babies so cute?

18 Sep


I want to thank Gem State Writers for inviting me to blog with them and tell you a little about myself. I was born and raised in the city, but I’m a country girl at heart. I married a rodeo cowboy and have spent most of my life training and competing on barrel racing horses.

We’ve also raised registered Quarter horses, Cocker Spaniels and Munchkin cats and three children. One of the most enjoyable things about raising animals and children is they are so darnn cute. Whether it’s a kitten, colt or baby, watching them play will bring a smile to your face.

Which brings to mind the question as to why we often view babies as more appealing than their adult versions? One hypothesis is that they are adorably disproportionate. A puppy has huge paws and ears that are way too big for his body. The baby monkey, kitten or person’s eyes are huge for its face and convey innocence. A fawn or colt’s legs are much too long, and they stagger around as if they were on stilts.

Biologist Michael C. LaBarbera of the University of Chicago says all mammals have inherited the ability to recognize their young’s special features. Some species, including humans, take this recognition to the next step. Koko the gorilla adopted a kitten and, just a few years ago, a female gorilla at Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo protected a child that had fallen into the gorilla exhibit. They not only recognized their own young but that of another species.

An interesting article by Steve Gould, a geology professor at Harvard University, touches on this in one of his more famous essays, “A biological homage to Mickey Mouse”. Gould noted that during the fifty years since Mickey’s creation, his image has evolved from a rather unsavory rodent into a squat creature with a large round head, big eyes, and short limbs. Mickey now resembles the baby animals we love so much.

Whether parents are born with this aesthetic sense or have genes that tell us to favor whatever features appear in our offspring hasn’t been determined.  One way or the other, we have developed the ability to recognize and protect our young.

What makes me think of this question at this time? Sawyer Michael was born on September 13, 2012 with an adorable round head, large eyes and a precious personality. And I’m not just saying that because he’s my grandson.


Posted by on September 18, 2012 in Idaho


20 responses to “Why are babies so cute?

  1. Janis McCurry

    September 18, 2012 at 7:13 AM

    Congratulations, Steph. Young’uns do tend to tug at the heartstrings. Need to protect and unconditional love are strong ties. Thanks for joining us!

  2. stephanieberget

    September 18, 2012 at 8:07 AM

    I’m so glad to be included with such wonderful writers. Babies are sweet no matter what kind.

  3. Judith Keim

    September 18, 2012 at 9:27 AM

    Congratulations on your grandson, Steph. Three little grandsons in two years brought us out west because, you know, they’re just so darn cute and we didn’t want to miss out on seeing them grow. Why are babies and puppies and all so cute? Their innocence plays a big part in it, I believe. And when I cuddle them I think of all the good possibilities for them that might lie ahead!

  4. Charlene Ann Baumbich

    September 18, 2012 at 9:32 AM

    I used to ride in barrel races too! Not professionally, but in 4-H and riding clubs, county fair … Giddyup, cowgirl! Whether we’re talking barrels or stories, I’m sure you know just how to lean into them.

    • stephanieberget

      September 18, 2012 at 9:40 AM

      Nice to meet you Charlene. Ah, another barrel racer. So good to meet cowgirls. YeeHaa!

  5. stephanieberget

    September 18, 2012 at 9:33 AM

    Thanks, Judy. He’s our second and a total, wonderful surprise. You must be having a terrific time with three.

  6. Peggy Staggs

    September 18, 2012 at 9:47 AM

    Congratulations on your new grandson.
    My theory on cuteness in babies is, they have to be that way. With the emission of all the bodily fluids and solids, would we keep them if they weren’t cute?

  7. stephanieberget

    September 18, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    I think you’ve nailed it, Peggy. After watching the birth, my son decided if men had to have babies, the human race would cease to exist.

  8. Corina Mallory

    September 18, 2012 at 10:01 AM

    Aw, congrats Steph!

    • stephanieberget

      September 18, 2012 at 10:21 AM

      Thanks, Corina. He’s a cutie. Lots of long dark hair.

  9. MK Hutchins (@mkhutchins)

    September 18, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    Congrats! I think babies being so cute is a good thing…it’s a lot easier to overlook all the messes when there’s a smiling tyke in the middle of it.

  10. stephanieberget

    September 18, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    You are so right, MK. What’s a dirty diaper compared to when they smile for the first time.

  11. marsharwest

    September 18, 2012 at 12:50 PM

    Nothing like a new grandchild to make you smile. I’m lucky to have 3, (1-3 & a piece) all of whom live within five minutes. There’s nothing quite like the way they light up when you show up in their little world. Those of us with grands are truly blessed. Have I just seen your name here, Stephanie, or are you perhaps also on C & N?

  12. stephanieberget

    September 18, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    I’m new to posting here, but I have commented quite a bit. It’s nice to meet you, and you’re right, there’s nothing like a grandbaby.

  13. maryvine

    September 18, 2012 at 3:04 PM

    I’m so happy for you, Steph! Congrats! Glad everything went fine. I have grandsons too and they are so much fun. Welcome to Gem State Writers!

    • stephanieberget

      September 18, 2012 at 3:37 PM

      Thanks, Mary. I’m excited to be here. I had a hard time letting anyone else hold him.

  14. Liz Fredericks

    September 19, 2012 at 9:48 AM

    Congratulations on Sawyer’s birth!!

    • stephanieberget

      September 19, 2012 at 11:08 AM

      Thanks Liz. Sometimes you’re just going along, minding your own business and a miracle gets dropped into your lap. What are you going to do? Smile and say thanks.

  15. Clarissa Southwick

    September 27, 2012 at 8:00 AM

    Congratulations on your new grandson. May he live a long, healthy, and happy life.

    BTW, I love Stephen Jay Gould’s essays. What a surprise to find him mentioned here 🙂

    • Stephanie Berget

      September 27, 2012 at 8:39 AM

      Thanks, Clarissa. Sawyer is doing well. This is the first of Jay Gould’s essays that I’ve read, but it won’t be the last.


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