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Why Babies are Cute

In the "Cult of Escapism": Why Babies are Cute

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Why Babies are Cute

Baby cuteness has got be an evolutionary trait. At some point, the Gods of Evolution were presented with human babies, possibly the most worthless beings ever created, and had to give them a chance at life. They reviewed their options: cover them in poisonous spikes; allow them to use their large brains; or make them so cute any non-sociopath would feel obligated to care for them.

This last option seems to have prevailed and it seems to work. Today, a mother asked me to hold her newborn for a few minutes while she went to find something. I’ve held few babies in my life so I just let her awkwardly lay in my arms like a large UPS package (the baby, not the mom). Everything went smoothly for about four seconds and then she started wiggling and all I could think was: What ever happened to Josh Hartnett? He was great in Luck Number Sleven and could have heart-throbbed his way through any romantic comedy. No wait. I was actually thinking: I’m gonna drop the baby. So I put her on a nearby table and held both of her arms, in case she suddenly learned to do a back flip. This is when I realized how useless babies are.

As far as I can tell, babies have three states: sleeping, crying, or gurgling. I’ve heard that babies laugh but I think that’s just a myth invented by parents hallucinating from lack of sleep and overexposure to close-proximity gurgling.
Not the baby I held, but he sure is cute
Without my firm, fatherly, but mostly awkward grip on her shoulders, there’s a good chance the baby would just nosedive off the table. Even if she managed not to, she can’t hunt or cook or even talk. Which means we humans produce tiny, useless, dependent versions of ourselves and the only thing keeping them alive is our innate desire to say “Awwww” and cradle them in our arms?

But it works. This mother spends many of her baby’s waking moments cooing and kissing her cheek. A shirtless Josh Harnett could walk by and she probably wouldn’t even notice.


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