Baby looks more like Dad? Here’s why:
We’ve all seen a child that is the spitting image of their mom and dad. Just as genes are the reason that some children look like identical copies of their parents, they are also the defining factor in determining how much of a resemblance a child bares to their parent, if they look like them at all. What many parents don’t realize is that many newborns don’t look anything like their parents right after they’re born.
What to Do If Your Baby Doesn’t Look Like Mom
As you spend the first few days and weeks following the birth of your baby playing the guessing game to see who the baby resembles more, you may be surprised to find that the baby doesn’t look like mom or dad at all.
If you’ve noticed that your baby doesn’t look like mom, don’t be surprised. Genes are responsible for determining what features your child has. Thus, there are thousands of possibilities when it comes to the combination of genes that a child can inherit. When it comes down to resemblance, recessive and dominant genes interplay with each other and can explain this difference in resemblance.
The Genes Behind Hair, Eye Color, Weight, and Height
Every person inherits a multitude of gene pairs that help to determine their hair color. In one pair, a baby inherits one gene from Dad and one gene from Mom. If a baby inherits, for example, 10 pairs, this means that there are 20 genes that can affect the type of hair your child has. While the concept of dominant and recessive genes are understood, scientists haven’t figured out what specific genes determine the hue.
If the baby doesn’t look like mom, it’s a matter of the gene pairings. These genes define your baby’s hair color, in addition to the complexion and eye color as well, regulate the baby’s melanocyte–the color-producing cells. Your baby’s melanocytes will determine where on the color spectrum your baby’s hair falls, as well as what pigment they create. Eumelanin produces brown and black and pheomelanin results in red and yellow.
The Difference Between Dark and Light Hair
The more of these color-producing cells that your baby has and the amount of eumelanin will determine what shade your baby’s shade of hair is. With more eumelanin present in your bay, the darker their hair will be. With fewer melanocytes manufacturing eumelanin, your baby will be blonde or light brown. Babies that have more pheomelanin will have redder hair.
While this may be true of your child’s genes, keep in mind that a baby’s hair may change over time. This is especially true when your baby hits puberty, so you may find that around this time, your child starts to look more like mom after all.
Still wondering why some family members look more like your child than you? Children share 50% of their DNA with their siblings and parents, so there’s a lot of potential for variation.
Your Baby’s Eyes
Parents wondering why their child’s eyes are a different color than theirs may be worried that the baby doesn’t look like mom, but it’s common for babies to have eyes that change colors as they age. Many babies are born with lighter eyes that change later on based on their exposure to light.
Our eyes have color-producing cells inside the iris and need exposure to the light activate. This is the reason it takes an average of six months for an infant’s eye color to stabilize.
If it takes six months for a baby’s eye color to be determined, what is really responsible for identifying the color? Scientists have determined that two genes affect the shade of eye color that your baby will have. The eye color depends on the combination of alleles that the baby has inherited from both parents.
If one parent has dark eyes and the other has light eyes, the baby is most likely to end up with darker eyes, thanks to dominant genes. However, genes work in surprising ways. Even if both parents have darker eyes, the baby can have blue eyes if they carry the trait for blue eyes. Though the blue eyes are recessive, your baby just might get them as well.
Your Baby’s Weight and Height
Many parents like to compare their own weight as a baby with that of their child’s weight. However, there are several different factors that can influence the size of a baby. The initial size of the baby may be influenced by the mother’s diet, as well as any health conditions like gestational diabetes.
When it comes to your child’s weight and height as they grow, there are over 100 different gene comes at play. However, keep in mind that just as babies need a well-balanced diet, growing children need proper nutrition and regular physical activity to maintain an age-appropriate height and weight.
Trying to determine how tall your child will grow? If your baby is a girl, take five inches off of the father’s height and average this number with the mom’s. For boys, add five inches to the mother’s height and average this number with the dad’s.
Who Resembles Whom?
The more you know about DNA, the more you’ll realize that if the baby doesn’t look like mom, it’s okay. Many interracial couples find that their baby often looks more like one parent than the other. This is completely natural and a result of science, however, it can be particularly discomforting when others confront the parents and ask about the lack of resemblance.
Many mothers are appalled when friends, family members, and strangers ask, “Why is it that the baby doesn’t look like mom?” Whiles some people are simply curious when asking these questions, the experience can be particularly painful for both parents. Some strangers even go so far as to ask about whether or not the parents adopted their child.
If you find that your baby doesn’t look like mom or doesn’t look like dad, prepare yourself to be bombarded with these questions. Oftentimes, there’s no malice behind them, but it helps to have an answer prepared. Whether you make a joke about DNA or you simply decline to answer, remember what really matters most: the love you have for your child.
Look at the Family Tree
If the baby doesn’t look like mom, don’t worry! In many families, as the baby grows, they will look more or less like other family members, even if they’re not in their immediate family. Now is the perfect time to look back into your family history. Whether you dig up the family tree at your annual reunion or you do an ancestry test with a company like 23andMe, if your baby doesn’t look like mom, this is your best opportunity to find out why.
Taking a look at the family tree and ancestry gives parents the chance to see all the possible traits their baby might have, which can explain why the baby doesn’t look like mom or dad. For example, if a baby has blue eyes while both parents have brown eyes, one glance at their family’s genetic history may reveal who the last blue-eyed person was in the family.
If the baby doesn’t look like mom now, that doesn’t mean that they won’t eventually resemble their mom. Instead of focusing on all the features your baby does or doesn’t have, simply be thankful that they are healthy and happy. Spending time together as a family is far more important than worrying about who the baby resembles the most.