New dads are sexy and they know it

Loving it ... Men feel more attractive after becoming a dad.
Loving it ... Men feel more attractive after becoming a dad. 

Baby vomit ... Severe lack of sleep ... Changing nappies ... Feeling sexier than usual?  

While most women wouldn’t associate being a new parent with feeling more attractive, it seems men see it differently: a study has found that once men have kids, they think they’re better looking than before they were dads ... for a while, anyway.

The study, published in the Journal of Gender Studies, found the upped-sexiness factor was especially true for dads whose wives gave birth early in their marriage.

Researchers from the University of California-Santa Barbara spoke to 182 newlyweds over their first two years of marriage. At three stages during that time – at the start, around the couples’ first anniversary, and near the second anniversary – the couples were polled on a variety of factors relevant to their wellbeing.

One question had the participants rate their attractiveness on a scale of one to 100 (very ugly to perfect beauty/handsomeness), and to judge how they normally saw themselves (unattractive to very attractive).

The men who didn’t become dads in this time frame stayed stable on the self-reported attractiveness scale. But those who had become fathers said they felt more attractive after their partner had had a child.

But by the time the second anniversary had rolled around, their attractiveness levels had returned to their old levels.

It all makes sense to Sydney dad of two Michael Irvine. “When [my son] was a baby and I’d take him out, just for a walk with the pram or going into the shops … people would smile at us,” he says.

“Yeah, I love my wife and I was just doing my part, but of course it’s a bit nice to have women smiling at you and talking to you, when they wouldn’t have done it before. It does give you a bit of a boost.”

So why would men feel less attractive once that first year is over? Irvine reckons, “I think I was too tired to feel anything by the time [my son] was older … the glow wears off a bit!”

This is said to be the first study that’s looked at men’s self-esteem levels post-baby, as researchers traditionally focus on mothers.

“Women get [positive] feedback too, because everybody loves a new baby,” the study’s lead author, Alicia Cast said. “But that may be countered by other things she’s experiencing that he’s not, in terms of how her body has changed and being more physically tired.”