Baby fever is for real

By Shayna Brouker • Published: December 2nd, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Ever get that warm, fuzzy feeling when you’re around babies? Get an overwhelming urge to smell their furry hair, tickle their little toes and nuzzle them into your chest? Does spotting a baby stroller make you want to start your own brood? Well, you might have what is commonly referred to as “baby fever.” But a new study from a husband-and-wife team of researchers from Kansas State University found that it’s for real — not only for women, but men, too.

The research investigated both sensory and rational factors associated with baby fever in more than 300 college students and more than 800 people surveyed on the Internet. They looked at things like the need to nurture and the ticking of one’s biological clock — for example, baby fever could be considered an emotion that signals the brain when the time is ripe for reproduction. The researchers also looked at gender roles, or whether women felt they should bear a baby simply because they’re supposed to.

But none of these held up as reasons for wanting to procreate — or not. Instead, sensory cues like seeing a baby smile or hearing her coo sparked people’s babymaking urges. That goes for men, too. But on the contrary, smelling a dirty diaper or hearing an ear-piercing wail served as a powerful form of birth control. Participants also cited rational reasons like not having enough money or a partner with whom to raise a child.

But for women, the fever seemed to break once reality sets in and life turns into a cycle of sleepless nights, dirty diapers and spit up. Curiously, men didn’t lose their fervor for little ones quite as quickly.

So you might want to test drive parenthood before you dive in — offer to babysit a friend’s brood for a day. And know that your sudden yearning to cuddle every kid in sight is natural and normal.