“Parental misperception of youngest child size”

Martinez-Conde, S., (June 2, 2014) “Youngest kids are bigger than their parents think”. Scientific American.

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/illusion-chasers/2014/06/02/baby-size/ htm

The author of this article suggests that parents of multiple children tend to see a larger contrast in size depending on the age of the child and how many siblings there are to reference; by memory. This article suggests that recent research indicates there is a ‘baby illusion’ that causes parents to see their youngest child as being smaller than they are in reality. This does not change with age; the ‘illusion’ is that the youngest child always seems smaller than his or her siblings when using them as a point of reference.

Kaufman, J., Tarasuik, J. C., Dafner, L., Russell, J., Marshall, S., & Meyer, D. (2013). Parental             misperception of youngest child size. Current Biology, 23(24), R1085-R1086.             doi:10.1016/j.cub.2013.10.071

Kaufman, J., Tarasuik, J. C., Dafner, L., Russell, J., Marshall, S., and Meyer, D. (2013) suggest in their article; entitled Parental misperception of youngest child size that there is such a phenomenon as the ‘baby illusion’. The study hypothesizes that parents who experience the ‘baby illusion’ are in fact doing this out of an innate allocation of care, and resources. This is found to be true for the youngest child because they seem to require more care no matter their age; as per their parents’ perceptions as well as reality.  Authors state that “parents misperceive their youngest children as exaggeratedly small, [which] may have an adaptive value, leading to greater parental care…” (Kaufman, J., Tarasuik, J. C., Dafner, L., Russell, J., Marshall, S., & Meyer, D. 2013:165).  The article suggests that this is a result of the nature and nurture response parents adapt when they have young children to care for.

            I agree with the article. From my experiences as a new mom; of a nearly 7 week old baby girl, I can understand this theory and support the hypothesis that parents always see the youngest child as smaller. I also believe this goes for parents who become grandparents as well. My daughter was born 5lbs 1oz, I was born 7lbs 4 Oz, and my younger brother was very sick at birth and weighed only 4lbs 7oz. I held my brother several times when he was born, but looking at him now and holding my daughter (who weighed almost a full pound more at birth) she seems so much smaller than him. My mother who just became a grandmother also seems to feel my daughter was smaller than my brother was at birth. This phenomenon which I now know is scientifically called ‘the baby illusion’ also seems to be a result of the natural instinct in parent to nurture their children, especially the smallest.

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