The scientific reason why parents want to ‘eat’ their babies

Want to know why you can’t help but pinch a cute baby’s cheeks? It’s the intense cuteness. 

TikTok dad @world.shaker explained the common psychological phenomenon of a baby’s cuteness being so intense that you want to eat it.

The behavior is known as a dimorphous expression of positive emotion. It’s when both negative and positive emotions display themselves simultaneously. 

The father referenced research from Yale about dimorphous expressions of positive emotion. 

A study found that people who were prone to these contradictory expressions, in general, were more likely to do so when seeing something cute — like a baby, for example. 

People who are more likely to cry to express happiness (like at a wedding) or scream to express excitement (like at a concert), tend to display their emotions in this complex way. 

Researchers believe these expressions occur when someone is so overwhelmed the feelings have become unmanageable. 

“You are feeling a positive so strongly that you have to a negative action to sort of balance out,” he explained. 

Basically, you’ve got to munch that cute baby to help regulate how intensely adorable it is. 

“I do this with my son. I tell him he’s so cute I’m gonna eat him and he laughs,” a user wrote. 

“I shove my sons whole foot in my mouth cause he’s just so stinking CUTE!!!” another said

“I clinch my teeth when petting my fur babies, their just so damn cute it’s overwhelming. I looked this up thought I was nuts,” someone commented

In The Know is now available on Apple News — follow us here!

More from In The Know:

Makeup artist charges $300 for bridal look that left bride unimpressed

Woman discovers her headshots were used for stock photos: 'I didn't read the fine print'

One of the thinnest laptops we've ever seen is on sale for $260 on Amazon — that's over $750 off

The 13 best tech sales to shop this week — up to 59% off at HP, Oral-B, Samsung and more

Listen to the latest episode of our pop culture podcast, We Should Talk: