Is My Baby Cute? Really?

What is it that makes parents think their own babies are the cutest babies in the world? What makes them so unabashedly biased? CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman tries to explain the phenomenon, using his own personal fatherly experience - and his son, George.


Not long ago, we asked parents to send in pictures of both cute and ugly babies.

Nearly 200 people sent in pictures of their supposedly adorable offspring, but not one parent copped to having even an average looking child. It's not right, since logic demands that half of all babies must fall in the bottom 50 percent of cuteness.

That's why, after my son George was born, I tried to maintain my journalistic integrity. Now, the older he gets, the more I fall in love with him, the more I find myself thinking like all the other parents.

That's why I decided to find out once and for all, if my son is cute or not.

As I expected, everyone said he was cute.

After showing people a picture of George, one said, "That is a cute baby! Look at those eyes!"

"Look at the mouth!" one gushed.

"Oh, the big smile," said another.

The picture I originally showed people was an actual picture of my son. Then I started showing an "uglified" version. Believe it or not, everyone still gushed over my little monster, although some more convincingly than others.

"That baby is adorable," one person tried to tell me.

I responded, "Really?"

"Oh, come on. Look at that smile … or the look."

One person avoided specific features altogether: "He, ahh, ahh, his, ah his enjoyment of life is obvious!"

And so it went, no matter who I asked, or how ugly I made the picture. I couldn't find anyone who'd give it to me straight. I even showed a priest the picture.

"Oh, good lord!" That's not an insect no?" was his first reaction.

I replied, "No, that's a hairy mole. He's still cute though?"

Father said, "Oh, sure it is."

At the risk of a lightening strike, I then asked Father Patrick if it's a sin to tell somebody there baby is cute when you really don't think it is.

"That's not a lie," said Father Patrick.

"It's not a lie?" I continued to question.

"Oh lord no, I wouldn't. There's all the difference between a lie and what they call a mental reservation."

"Well, if that's true, then how do I know you think my child's cute?" I asked.

Father politely replied. "Oh, I see, because he is! This baby's a really cute little baby. "

I was about to give up and that's when I thought of Maureen Walach. Maureen heads up Wilhelmina Kids, a child modeling agency.

I showed her pictures of what George really looks like. Although at first, she too, couldn't help but be diplomatic, eventually, I got it out of her.

"What are you looking for?" she asked me.

"Honesty," was my reply

"That's what you got," Walach said. "He's cute"

"It's OK, I've been looking for somebody to tell me the truth," I reassured her.

"OK, the truth is the baby is very average! There you go!" she finally gave in.

I now had the truth. "How come nobody else would tell me my baby is average looking?" I asked her.

"Because now you hate me," Walach said.

"No I don't!"

"I think you might," she said.

After all that, I've come to the conclusion that cuteness is relative ... if the baby's your relative, it's cute.
  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.

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