• Tue, Mar 11 - 9:00 am ET

On The Inside, We Are All Afraid Of Having An Ugly Baby

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During your first pregnancy, there are so many fears. What if I eat the wrong thing and cause some kind of damage to my baby? What if I exercise too much or too little? What if I go into labor early and am not prepared for the baby? What if my baby is UGLY?

This last fear is incredibly common, but it is the fear of which we do not speak because of an even greater fear of being judged. Awesome Mommyish contributor Megan Zander put it best:

I was always afraid of having unattractive kids- I know, I’m shallow, I own that. When I was in high school my BFF and I would joke that when we had kids, we would be honest and tell the other if the kid was ugly and then make them a nice room under the stairs like Harry Potter.

If she’s shallow, then I am too. Yes, I always said the expected line that all I wanted was a healthy baby, and then I would murmur under my breath, “And make it a cute baby too!”

The good thing about parenting is that you will probably think your ugly baby is cute. That must be biology or something so that you don’t eat your young out of frustration and disappointment. Yet there is always the paranoia that Megan spoke of in not knowing that your baby is full-on ugly, and everyone else whispers about it behind your back.

I will admit that my first son had a bit of a “rough stage” as a baby. My husband and I both thought he was the most beautiful creation ever to shoot out of my loins, but in the first year of his life, he had some pretty rowdy eczema. Now he’s grown into an ultra-adorable toddler. Like, he’s really good at being a cute toddler.

Every parent is afraid of having an ugly baby, even if they are not brave enough to say it out loud. Every parent is even more afraid of not knowing that they have an ugly baby, which may be why so many new parents barrage Facebook with puffy newborn photos to seek reassurance.

Not all babies are born cute, and that’s just a fact of life. I think in this moral dilemma, ignorance is bliss. If anyone thought my babies were ugly, I wouldn’t want to know. And I will return the favor by “liking” any fugly babies that I see on my Facebook feed in the future. Their parents will never be the wiser.

(Image: ajkkafe/Shutterstock)

You can reach this post's author, Bethany Ramos, on twitter.
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  • Natasha B

    No lie, I knew all my newborns were funky looking. They look like little wrinkly old men, or Yoda. It takes a few weeks for them to shed that alien look but we love them all the same. And now I have theeee most beautiful children on the face of this earth ;)
    Some of my friends do have some messed up looking kids, I would never tell them that though. We refer to them as ‘precious’. My father, however, lacks this filter, and is kind of famous for it. He once told new parents their baby daughter looked like Winston Churchill (she kind of did…) and at a BBQ, while holding my son, looked at his friend, who was also holding his grandson, and said ‘Sorry, Jerry, but my grandkids definitely beat yours in the looks department’.

    • Alicia Kiner

      That grandpa comment is totally to be expected though. And it’s actually kind of sweet.

    • Natasha B

      I was all ‘Dad! Shame on you!’ Wink wink nudge at least someone said it out loud!!!

    • Bethany Ramos

      “Precious” is perfect.

  • Jell

    I kind of always assumed that no one ractually knew if their baby was ugly. After all, the appropriate response to any infant is, “what a lovely baby,” or some form thereof. And I have always dutifully recited such, even for uggos.
    Granted, I’ve only seen two that could fit that description and one wasn’t so much unattractive as unusually muppet-y. As in, is that baby real or did you steal him from the set of a Jim Henson film? He outgrew it though.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      I have been known to say OH IT’S A BABY! when confronted with an ugly baby :(

    • Megan Zander

      HA! I know a labor and delivery nurse and she told me they train them to say something about how tiny the baby’s feet/ hands are when they meet an unfortunate looking newbie. Parents equal tiny with cute I suppose.

    • Natasha B

      The appropriate response when met with a frightening child is to coo ‘oh he/she/it is sooooooo precious!!!’

    • Megan Zander

      As in “my precious”

    • Natasha B

      Preeeeeecisely. ‘Pats baby’s head’ my precious.

    • CMJ

      I WILL REMEMBER THIS.

  • Alicia Kiner

    I have a nephew that when he was born, I swear to you, looked like ET. Not cute, not at all.
    My daughter on the other hand, gets the “Oh, she’s SOOO freaking cute” comments almost every time we go anywhere. To the point where now I kind of wish it would die down because I don’t want her worth to be in her looks. So I guess there’s too much of a good thing?? I wouldn’t want an ugly baby, but I don’t want a mean girl either.

    • Megan

      YES! My daughter gets those kinds of comments and reactions all the freakin’ time. It makes me super paranoid that she’s really this super funny-looking kid who makes people feel sorry for her. :( I think she’s the cutest thing ever, of course, but who really listens when their mom tells them they’re pretty?
      My husband is always comparing our daughter with any other baby we happen to know about who’s cuter/smarter/funnier/whatever. It’s sweet (since he’s always ranking our baby at the top) but very much eye-roll inducing….

  • http://www.ambiencechaser.com/ Elizabeth Licata

    I think most people think their babies are cute. My mom remembers feeling weird about taking me to baby play groups, “Because all the other parents must feel bad, because all those babies are so weird looking, and Elizabeth is so extremely beautiful.”

    Years later she was looking at baby pictures and said, “You know, I remember *thinking* Liz was the most beautiful baby that had ever existed. But she was really kind of funny looking and not that cute at all until she was a toddler.”

  • MegzWray

    As the mother of an adopted child, I knew I had no “influence” on the looks of my baby. And I was ready to have the Fugliest baby at the hospital (rumored/confirmed drug use, confirmed “Ginger” parentage, etc.), but also knew that I would love her to the depths of my soul. We lucked out, BIG TIME! She is Totes Adorbs. But all babies do go thru that alien-baby phase. There’s no getting around that.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Ginger parentage – lol! Glad to hear your daughter is doing well. :)

    • Natasha B

      Ginger parentage can go either way, sounds like you got lucky! My BFF is half Mexican and her hubby is red hair/blue eyes/freckles and is, um, a good person? I was mildly concerned about what their kids would look like, but their son has her curls in a beautiful auburn and bright blue eyes and flawless olive skin. He’s gorg.
      On the other hand, acquaintances of our are working on their 4th ginger, and I’m sorry, but that look just does not work for them.

    • ChelseaBFH

      As a ginger, I take offense at that! Haha.

      But seriously, it was a real concern once I found out that both of my twins were boys. Red hair pretty much always looks good on girls but with boys it can be a LOT dicier. Thankfully my guys seem to have lucked out – at 4 months, one is sort of strawberry blonde, the other is brown with an auburn tinge. Hopefully no one gets too firey as they get older!

    • Natasha B

      Confidence. Own that ginger!!! I always wanted to be a red head, and while my dark brown hair has red tones, I tried to go fireball once and it. Did. Not. Work. So sad :(

  • elle

    I am an exceptionally shallow human being, I admit that. I was SO terrified my son would get my real nose…..I lucked out that he didn’t. But it was a terrible nose. I don’t really think any newborn is cute tho…..it takes a couple of weeks.

    • Ife

      See, and I was scared that my daughter would inherit my (basically nonexistent) upper lip. She did, and on her it’s adorable in a way it never was on me. Go figure!

  • Megan Zander

    B, first of all, welcome to the shallow side, please, have a cookie, they’re GF, natch. Second, I’m waaaay too excited that you quoted me, as this is the closest I will ever get to having my own celebrity write up in Elle. Going to have to wear sunglasses to story time, so the other moms don’t recognize me. If anyone needs me I’ll be in my trailer, the kids can fill their own sippy cups.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Hahahah! Put sunglasses on your adorbs babies too please. :)

    • Megan Zander

      But of course

    • Bethany Ramos

      AWWWWW. Sorry, not ugly.

    • Natasha B

      Baby sunglasses FTW. He is absolutely not precious, he is scrumptious and adorbs.

    • Megan Zander

      Thanks!

    • Jennifer Freeman

      Too cute! Baby sunglasses are the best. My brother and SIL got us a pair for our little guy that look like little mini Wayfarers.

  • Ife

    I used to think newborns generally just weren’t cute, but having my own has totally increased my appreciation of their squishy, wrinkly, old-mannish adorableness. I’ve really only ever seen one or two really ugly babies in my life.

    My kids, of course, are gorgeous. I don’t really know how, honestly. My husband and I are both average looking, I guess, and we were sort of goofy looking kids. But our DNA combines to make magic. It’s harder to see at 3 months when babies are acne ridden, bug eyed little trolls, but now that they’re older? Pretty damned good looking children (in my completely biased opinion.).

  • Guest

    Quite a few of my friends don’t care to even see newborns because they look like potatoes. I have only seen a couple kids where in their first year I was like holy s?$! that kid is ugly. So very ugly. Luckily that kid grew out of it and now is cute but her baby brother is in the ugly stage. At some point everyone is ugly, either as a baby, little kid, mid-puberty, or later. Plus, a lot of ugly kids turn into hot adults so there is always hope.

    • Jell

      I’m not convinced that the newborn stage of any mammal is particularly attractive. Even puppies and kittens need a little time to firm up. With babies that first week or so isn’t cute or comely it’s just newborn-y.

  • Momma425

    When we were leaving the hospital after having my daughter, we saw another couple leaving at the same time. They were so sweet and so excited and so nice- and their baby had this huge nose and was seriously shockingly hideous. My mom brought it up days later, long after they were well, well out of earshot. My dad, and ex and I agreed. I was terrified that whenever people told me that my baby was so cute- what if they were lying and all thought she was hideous behind my back?

    I wonder if parents ever have any idea if their baby is hideous or not. Honestly, looking back, my baby was cute, but if she had come out looking like a monkey, I probably would have been all , “aww my sweet cute little princess!”

    • CMP414

      I had the same fear! And i always lie and say how cute other people’s babies are and secretly think they are totally fugly. People could have just been putting me on all this time and I am walking around thinking I have the most gorgeous kid ever.

  • MegzWray

    I feel like Oprah, “You get an ugly baby! And YOU get an ugly baby! We ALLL get an ugly baby!!!”

  • Crusty (I HATE TAXES) Socks

    ##3willbeagorgeousgirl #wellesleycollege

    • Bethany Ramos

      NOOOO. Gorgeous, okay. ;)

  • Zettai

    Long-time member of the shallow club here. When the baby conversation begins I usually say “I just want my baby to be healthy, physically and mentally, and not be ugly. WHAT? What’s wrong with that?”

  • liz

    My father in-law would go around telling people that his grandbaby was cuter than theirs whenever he took my son out.

    • Natasha B

      My dad does that also :) proud grandpas unite!

  • Joy

    I secretly worry about this a little bit, now that my due date is looming closer, but both hubs and I were pretty cute babies, so hopefully the kiddo will be cute too. Once the normal wrinkly, red potato newborn phase passes, that is. No baby is that cute right at first.

  • Rachel Sea

    My niece was born looking like one of the troll-baby composites, and at 18 still hasn’t grown out of it. I keep hoping.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Troll baby, noooo.

  • Elisa Probert

    Bring on the fugly babies! I would totally own the ugly…I know that my cousins both have really weird looking babies. Cute, but weird. Not beautiful by any means. At least they’re interesting! LOL

    I’m kind of a troll in that I love watching people sputter and search for compliments…LOL

    Side note…someone asked if I was pregnant yesterday (ALL my freakin’ fat is in my belly!) and I was like, NOPE. Just building a bouncy castle in there for when I am later on.

    • Bethany Ramos

      RUDE! I hope their baby is cursed with ugliness.

    • Elisa Probert

      Nah. I’m used to it…I work in a nursing home and little old ladies are totally tactless! In the ten years I’ve worked there, I’ve heard through the grapevine that I was pregnant, at least ten times! Apparently I have a collection of invisible babies I didn’t even know about. Husbands, too, as I also heard I was getting married several times before I met my husband. LOL

      My invisible basement is full of invisible husbands and invisible babies. Wonder if they’re cute or ugly invisible babies?

    • liz

      I worked in a nursing home and the residents cracked me up all the time. They would gossip and forget who they were talking about. I heard all kind of things about myself.

  • effingplates

    I’m really glad other people recognize ugly babies as being ugly and I’m not just some horrible human being. My friend has two kids and her first is cute, but her second … he looks pretty unfortunate. Beady eyes, no eyebrows, protruding ears, triple chin with his mouth perpetually hanging open. He had some baby acne at first too, which didn’t help. I remember admitting to my other friend that this was the ugliest baby I’d ever seen and she said “But ALL babies are cute! It can’t be that bad”. When she saw a picture of him she said “… Oh my. You weren’t kidding”. I’m just feeling kinda glad I can say this here without feeling as guilty.

    • Megan Zander

      ::passes plate of cookies:: Welcome!

    • JJ

      Someone on my facebook responded to their friends birth annoucement on facebook. A picture of the newborn was included in the post: yikes! That was actually the weirdest looking baby I ever seen in my life. It didn’t even have the Winston Churchill looked it jumped right to enormous, blob demon spawn thing. I felt awful because he’s was just a newborn baby and he’s probably a sweetie but man that baby was the first baby I have ever seen that made me actually gasp out loud and back away from my screen. And so many people were commenting to obviously say congratulations and they were saying things like “oh what a cutie he looks like dad”, “so adorable”. Are you people blind or are you just being nice and pulling a version of the “they are precious” act because that baby is uh, special looking.

    • effingplates

      The worst part is that the baby in question kind of DOES look like dad. My friend is pleasant enough to look at, but her husband … well, lets just say I know the second child is his kid. He looks a bit like a catfish. The firstborn took after mama and has a few of his dad’s neutral traits. Hopefully the poor younger one grows into his features when he gets to be a toddler.

  • SA

    Fine. I’ll admit it. The second she came out I gave her a one-over terrified she would be ugly. I was very pleased with her I will say, but I am looking back at some pictures lately and she DEFINITELY hit an awkward stage around 8-9 months (mismatched teeth, bald spots, etc). I totally didn’t notice it then, but now I realize and see how strong my love for her must be! ;)

  • CMP414

    So when I had my first baby, my husband and I thought we had the most beautiful baby ever. fast forward 2 years: I still think she was stunning but now my husband looks back at pics and thinks she looks like Don Rickles. Ugh!

  • Nica

    This whole thread is making me LOL! I never really thought about it while pg, but I will say my first went through a pretty scary baby stage early on… He had a big ol’ bruise across his entire forehead from hitting my pubic bone repeatedly on his way out, he had baby acne, bad eczema, cradle cap and a big birthmark on the back of his head. Then he had some jaundice thrown in to make him slightly yellow for good effect… Even I didn’t think the was all that cute (though I loved him with my whole heart and soul the first minute I saw him). Wellllll, a couple of months later, that all healed/subsided and out popped the cutest baby you ever did see (so says the biased mama). He’s almost five now and so very handsome that strangers tell me how handsome he is pretty much all the time…
    My 2nd – different story. He came out in two pushes and was just the most beautiful baby you ever did see from the minute he was born – big blue eyes, chubby red cheeks, gorgeous baby skin, beautiful rolls of baby chub on his arms and legs. Seriously, he was like a perfect little cherub – no bruising on his head, no birthmarks, no acne, no eczema, no splotchy skin. He’s almost 2 now and still just a bundle of baby/toddler cuteness, but I think his older bro is definitely going to be the looker in the family…

  • Me-Me

    My daughter was NOT a pretty newborn. But turned into a beautiful baby and a gorgeous little girl. I was lucky. Some are born ugly and stay ugly.

  • JJ

    As awful as this is going to sound I just kind of expect the majority of the newborns to look funny until they grow into their looks a few weeks or months later. So color me surprised when I went to see my friends two kids in the hospital after each birth and they were legitimately cute. Seriously, no red lobster skin or blob looks about them they looked like actually adorable, wide eyed alert babies. Thank the lord because I was going into the hospital like I was Larry David from Curb Your Enthusiam prepping myself to find a nice word to describe the babies when I saw them if they were all wrinkled and beet colored . Just hoping I wouldn’t accidentally say something like, “oh jesus” or ” wowza soo … precious?” if they were funny looking. I say this and now my karma will be that I will totally have ugly babies I can guarantee it LOL. They will probably look like demon lobster babies.

  • iamtheshoshie

    I currently think my 2 month old is basically the cutest thing ever. But part of me wonders if I’ve just got new parent goggles, even when everyone oggles him. Like, maybe they’re oggling out of horror? IDK. My brain is weird.

  • WriterLady

    I think we all wonder about and fret over what our kid will look like before and during pregnancy, whether it’s PC or not. I will say that it’s weird how kids go though dramatic physical transformations in their earliest years. When my son was an infant, he was truly a beautiful baby. Then, he went through an awkward stage, where his looks completely changed–and not exactly for the best. After growing out of that phase, he’s still a cute little boy (in my humble opinion), but he looks almost nothing like me, aside from his bright blue eyes–my sole physical feature that I’m happy he acquired. Instead, I get comments all the time that he looks just like my husband. And he does, to some extent (such as their freakishly identical facial features), but seeing as my hubby is part-Puerto Rican (yet looks Greek or Italian), I have no idea where my kid gets his dirty blond/reddish brown hair and very light skin from. I’m guessing my mother’s heritage played a role in that, because he resembles both my mom and my brother—who are both light-complected—a great deal. Sometimes I’m not even sure I birthed this child, aside from the fact that he inherited my, err, consistently delightful attitude. ;)

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  • EDC

    Thanks so much! I needed this article to know I’m not alone.