It goes a little something like this. You’re enjoying a Sunday night swipe fest on your preferred dating app when you spot a cutie with some serious potential. While scrolling through their photos, you see the usual: a group party pic with friends, a solo photo in an exotic locale, and then (drumroll, please) — a photo of them gently cradling an infant in their arms. Maybe you suddenly feel inexplicably drawn to them, or maybe you’re turned off by this potentially manipulative gesture. Either way, it makes you wonder: Do photos with babies on dating apps make profiles stronger?
It’s a legitimate question, too. Even if you’ve only been using dating apps for a short time, odds are, you’ve spotted one of these increasingly popular pics and had one of several reactions. For some, the thoughtfully placed baby photo is endearing and attractive — because it suggests that the person is gentle and caring, or perhaps even that they want a family of their own in the near future (insert heart-eyes emoji). For others, it raises an eyebrow. I remember when I first started noticing this trend and thought to myself, “What is this trickery? Leave my ovaries alone!” As for whether or not it inspires more right swipes — well, it ultimately depends on the person you ask.
But before we explore the effectiveness, let’s dive into the reasoning behind this strategy. Curating your dating profile obviously takes a lot of careful consideration. After all, you typically only get a certain number of images to upload, and you want to appear as enticing as possible to your potential dates. As such, you might opt for certain photos over others because they make you appear a certain way.
For example, lots of people include shots of them performing athletic activities to suggest they value fitness and stay in shape. This makes sense, given that Hinge's 2017 Profile Picture Report found that photos of dating app users playing a sport or doing something physically active performed 75% better than other non-athletic photos. Other people might use photos of them with pets because let’s be real — an adorable puppy is bound to lure you in. In fact, according to a study by AskMen and Zoosk, profile pics featuring hamsters increased incoming messages by a whopping 351%, while photos with dogs boosted inbound messages by 265%.
As for using photos with tiny tots, the psychology behind it is pretty similar — it’s a way to present yourself in a more desirable light.
“First, it was the puppy photos that made women swoon, because if a guy has an adorable puppy, he could be grooming himself to be a great dad,” says Julie Spira, online dating expert and author of The Perils of Cyber-Dating: Confessions of a Hopeful Romantic Looking for Love Online. “But guys these days seem to be posting photos with babies to attract women — mostly those who are anxious to have children.”
According to Spira, seeing baby photos can have mixed results. On the one hand, it might send the message that you’re mature, affectionate, and nurturing. (“Look at me! I’m good with kids, and so responsible!”)
On the other hand, a photo with an infant (particularly if there’s more than one) can send the message that they’re ready and eager to settle down — which Spira notes could prove to be a turnoff for dating app users who have no interest in starting a family any time soon.
So, are baby photos merely a thinly veiled thirst trap? Sometimes. But it’s also possible that the person who posts that photo is just genuinely close to their niece or nephew, or simply happens to like how they look in that shot.
If you decide to use a photo with baby, Spira recommends including a note in your dating app profile to clarify your role — such as the ever-popular “not my kid,” or a subtle hint along the lines of “auntie of the year.” Also, she advises making it one of the last photos you include in your profile, as leading with a photo with a baby can seem like you’re trying too hard.
“Posting baby photos is like posting tiger photos,” Spira tells Elite Daily. “It’s a big fad, and some people will swipe right, but I say when in doubt, don’t.”
You hear that, fam? As a general rule, if you’re only including the photo because you’re attempting to manipulate your image in a certain way, then you might want to think twice. But that’s not to say you can’t use that pic you happen to love, particularly if the little one in it plays a big part in your life. Remember: A picture is worth a thousand words — so choose yours wisely.