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4 Ways Nature Brainwashes You into Taking Care of Babies

#2. A Baby's Cry Can Change the Brain Chemistry of Fathers

While mothers are busy getting contact highs from their babies, fathers can feel a little left out, like designated drivers at a party who have to patiently wait on the couch as everyone else has an infinitely better time. But nature isn't going to risk the chance that he'll get bored and wander away to meet other women who are unencumbered by tiny shrieking meat sacks. That's why even the sound of his baby's cry will release a heaping dose of a chemical into his system that is basically the hormone equivalent of a cockblock.

A mother isn't the only one whose mind rewires in preparation for raising a child. During pregnancy and childbirth, the father's body is stockpiling prolactin to keep him from acting like an asshole once the baby arrives. Prolactin is like the antagonist to testosterone, and it's the reason men don't have multiple orgasms. After sex, it's responsible for that satisfied, sometimes sentimental but completely non-erotic sensation most men feel, and if you happen to be a new father, you'll recognize it as that overwhelming affection you feel every time you interact with your baby.

"You're the best thing that ever happened to my browser history."

While the hormone helps a father bond with his child, its more important role is to crash his libido and keep him from trying to hump anything else. It's basically the baby's built-in safeguard ensuring that its father's attention isn't divided. But the strangest part is that a dad will only get doses of it when he can see or hear his child. Outside the sexless force field babies emit, the prolactin dams up and testosterone levels shoot back up to normal levels almost immediately. In other words, a baby is like a really adorable form of kryptonite to its father, if that father's superpower were fucking stuff.

#1. We Are Instinctively Primed to Love Any Baby

As you've been reading this article or even just scanning the pictures, you've unwittingly allowed babies to wrap their little fingers around your mind like a snare. Here's an experiment: Take a minute to really look at the baby in the image above. Now look at this guy:

Assuming you aren't a broken sociopath, you'll actually be able to feel the different responses in your body to each picture despite the fact that, objectively speaking, these are just two strangers to you. That's because the baby is triggering nucleus accumbens all over your brain, rewarding you just for looking at it. See, evolution has left nothing to chance. If something happens to the biological parents of a newborn and someone else is forced into care-taking without the benefit of the hormone surges to stay invested, babies still have another tiny, adorable card up their tiny, adorable sleeves: They're just so goddamn precious.

While this may seem completely intuitive to you, science deemed it worth exploring why we turn into cooing, smiling puddles in the presence of babies. Well, it turns out it's all in the face. Those big eyes, the tiny nose and the comically oversized head are all features we are built to treasure. For proof, look at literally any representation of cuteness in modern culture. Disney has built an entire multimillion-dollar empire entirely on those characteristics. It's called the baby schema, and it's not something we are conditioned to love -- it's something we love instinctively. Studies have proven that just seeing a face that matches the baby schema will activate pleasure and reward regions in every human brain, which is part of the reason the Internet is flooded with pictures of baby animals.

Being a slave to biological imperative feels incredible.

So, lacking the muscle strength to even lift their own heads, babies are equipped with only one weapon, and that weapon affects us on such a fundamental level that we are powerless to fight against it. It's not just true of humanity, either; across the board, mammals are overwhelmed with the impulse to nurture babies of any species, even ones they would otherwise eviscerate. Knowing all this, I'm now on the side of those doped-up mothers wondering why anyone wants to do anything other than collect puppies and kids all day. It may sound overly simplistic to fire helmeted babies over the walls of our enemies, but holy shit has anyone actually tried it?



You can follow Soren on Twitter or Tumblr. He hates small children.

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Soren Bowie

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