There are major health benefits when baby looks just like dad, study finds
A chip off the old block.
As mothers, we know it takes a lot of effort to grow a baby from conception to birth. From heartburn to morning sickness, not being able to sleep (or bend down to tie your shoes) because your belly is in the way, and seriously – can we talk about Braxton Hicks? Yep – this baby-making business is no easy feat. Which is why, of course, it can feel a bit traitor-y when the baby comes out looking the image of their dad – and nothing like us!
However, unfair as it may seem after all that effort you put in, mama – know that according to science, your baby looking like their dad actually comes with some pretty major health benefits.
Yep, it's true.
According to a new study published in the Journal of Health Economics, babies who resemble their fathers at birth are more likely to enjoy quality time with their dads. And in turn, those kids who spend more time together with their fathers end up healthier by the time they reach their first birthday, researchers at Binghamton University found.
So why exactly is there a correlation between resemblance and well-being? The researchers have the following theory:
“Frequent contact likely provides more parental time to supervise children, manage harmful exposures, gather information and attend to their health needs, and share parenting tasks,” the study’s authors write.
“Fathers are important in raising a child, and it manifests itself in the health of the child,” says lead researcher Solomon Polachek.
Polachek's team looked at the interactions between babies and fathers who did not live in the same household. And what they discovered, was that fathers whose infants looked like them spent an average of 2.5 more days per month with their kids than those dads who didn’t perceive a resemblance to their children.
The importance of engaged fathers
In fact, the babies who looked like their dads had fathers who were more engaged in the parenting process, so they had fewer emergency room visits and were less likely to suffer from asthma and illness, according to the findings.
However, groundbreaking as this all sounds, the researchers were not all that surprised, they clarified, as a 2016 Infant and Child Development study by Michigan State University has already seen researchers discovering that fathers play a large role in a child’s cognitive and language development during the toddler phase. And in a separate study released that year, those same researchers also discovered a father’s mental health can have a tremendous impact on their kid’s social skills and behaviour.
Other studies on the same topic has yielded similar findings, with researchers from Imperial College of London coming to a similar conclusion last year. According to their study published in Infant Mental Health Journal , dads who were more engaged and active with their babies in the first few months of life had a positive impact on their little one’s cognitive development. Oh, and more significantly, researchers found that all babies, boy or girl, performed better on cognitive tests at 2 years old, debunking the idea that dad-son time is more important.