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Do Babies Who Look More Like Dad Really Get More Love?

Photograph by Twenty20

One of the most maddening parts of motherhood might just be going through all the discomfort, aches and pains of pregnancy, sweating and straining through the grueling process of birth, and then finally getting to hold your precious newborn in your arms and realizing that your baby looks absolutely nothing like you and everything like his father.

Can you say "rude"?

But as it turns out, there's some scientific basis to why nature prefers a baby resemble their father over the mother. According a new study published in the Journal of Health Economics, the reason nature prefers babies resemble their biological fathers is simple: because dads are more likely to care for babies that resemble them.

Ugh, men, right?

The study found that babies in single-parent households (meaning the babies lived primarily with their mothers) who resembled their biological fathers were actually healthier than babies who didn't at the age of one.

The reason for the difference? Fathers who had babies who looked like them were more likely to spend more engaged time with their babies, which led to better health for those babies. A "father–child resemblance induces a father to spend more time engaged in positive parenting," the study concluded.

Overall, the study found that the more time a father spent with his child when he wasn't living with the mother, the healthier the baby was at the time of his or her first birthday. Even more specifically, the study found that just one extra day of a father spending time with his baby translated into a 10 percent increase in the child's health.

So, in other words, it's kind of a big deal.

Interestingly enough, the same premise is true even in adoptive families; a stepfather, for example, is more likely to adopt a stepchild that resembles him in some way.

That being said, let's remember that this is just a study and not an absolute rule, and thankfully, human fathers have evolved from the caveman days. Papas are fully capable of choosing who to love and care for, from adoption situations to blended families to biological births.

So, the next time you're lamenting why your kid looks nothing like you, just remember: It might just be nature's way of ensuring that Dad pitches in on changing all those dirty diapers too.

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