You Don’t Know Who the Baby Looks Like. You Just Don’t.

Even when I look real close, I can’t tell!

Last night I went for a run and took my iPhone along because I wanted to listen to a new playlist that I had downloaded earlier in the day. About a mile into it, the music was interrupted by notification of a tweet I had received from a random woman who was commenting on a piece I had written for TLC which discussed the advantages of being an older parent. I actually fired back with a few taps of my thumbs without even breaking stride, and once I did, I was taken aback by the entire experience. I was essentially having a conversation with a woman I had never met before about the birth of my youngest child. While running. Through the use of my phone. (And I once thought call waiting was the shit…)

Yet as much as technology has changed the way in which I’m able to converse about my newborn, human nature has insisted that some of the conversations remain the exact same as they’ve always been. And I was reminded of this earlier today when Grand Finale and I ran into an old friend who engaged me in such a conversation.

I’m talking about the “Your baby looks like ____” conversation. Now, before I go any further, I want to be very clear about something — EVERYONE loves to tell parents who their baby looks like. Myself included. So, if you’re someone who has thrown in his or her two cents on the matter, please don’t take offense. And please don’t think that I’ve taken offense. Because I haven’t.

See, this post isn’t a rant against people who engage in the “Your baby looks like ____” conversation. It’s about how amazing it is that EVERYONE in the world has and always will indulge in the “Your baby looks like _____” conversation. And how they’re all wrong.

Because babies don’t look like anyone. Well, except possibly for Winston Churchill.

When the triplets were born, the general consensus was that Jack looked like “a Fiser” and Sam looked like “an Osborne.”  The assessment flip-flopped numerous times throughout the years because (get this) babies grow and as they do (stay with me here) their looks change. Now that my guys are nearly four, I think it’s safe to say that the verdict is finally in. And the initial consensus was totally wrong. It’s Sam who looks like a Fiser while Jack, bless his heart, is a mini-JCO.

Some of the folks who thought Jack looked like me all along might have been tempted to say “toldya so!” But these people weren’t right. Instead, they just knew me better than Caroline. You see, I’ve come to the conclusion that people tend to think a baby resembles the parent / family they know best. For example, I once told a (shocked) mom that I thought her baby looked like the paternal grandfather. Yet I clearly didn’t know what I was talking about as evidenced by the fact that the child now totally looks like her mom.

Father-in-law? What was I thinking? Can’t tell you. But I can tell you this. I barely knew the mom and the dad was my college roommate, hence my assertion that the child bore a resemblance to his side of the family. It’s all I knew. So it’s what I saw.

So, as a general rule, the people who know Caroline better think that Grand Finale looks just like her or her side of the family and those who know me better think he looks like me or my side. And those who know us equally well are just throwing out SWAGs. (Some Wild-Ass Guesses.) But regardless of which parent the baby admirer knows better, one thing is certain. The conversation’s gonna happen. Because everyone wants to have it, regardless of what the kid looks like. I’m convinced that if Caroline and I had a shrink gun and we decided to zap, say, Whoopi Goldberg, then threw her in a onsie and went for a quick stroll, we wouldn’t even make it a single block before we heard: Oh my gosh. Luke totally has Caroline’s eyes.

So who am I, you might ask, to break down the “Your baby looks like ____” conversation? I have no credentials whatsoever. Well, other than the fact that I do have a total knack for seeing resemblances. Only I no longer fool myself into seeing them with babies. Instead, I tend to see them in pop culture personalities I loathe. Like Celine Dion, for example. She looks just like Screech from Saved by the Bell.

And that older fella she married? I’m sorry, but that guy is Uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. The only thing missing is Carlton, for crying out loud.

OH. And their oldest kid? He’s a teeny, tiny Ozzy Osbourne.

Screech, Uncle Phil and Ozzie. A Crazy Train, indeed.

Yet even I, with my uncanny ability to spot resemblances, can’t tell you who my infant son resembles at this point. Well, except for maybe one person.

Magoo image courtesy of kevindooley‘s photostream

I think it’s the eyes.

So what say you about the phenomenon of “Your baby looks just like ____” conversations?

Other photos courtesy of,, LightStalkers, TVonline, and People.

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About john cave osborne

John Cave Osborne is a writer whose work has appeared on such sites as DisneyBaby, Babble, YahooShine, TLC and the Huffington Post. He was also referenced by Jezebel one time, but he’s pretty sure they were making fun of him. He and his wife, Caroline, live with their five children and spastic dog in Knoxville, TN. Nothing annoys him more than joke-heavy bios written in the third person, with the possible exception of Corey Feldman.

  • sassygirl

    babies morph!  over the years (yes, the conversation continues even when your children grow into adults)…i loved hearing that my boys look JUST like me because i think they’re perfect.  they look like rick when they’re bad. 😉

    • John Cave Osborne

      @sassygirl, perfect way to describe that…morph. totally true. thanks for reading.

  • Miss A

    Haaaa didn’t see that it posted my real name. Could you remove or change? Thanks!
    Miss A

    • John Cave Osborne

      done, my friend. (though i cut and pasted the original comment b/c it was SO nice. i loved what you wrote about your grandma. you have a beautiful heart, Miss A. xo

  • SarahB

    We’ll have to test your theory once the baby’s here to evaluate.  I appreciate this post–not sure what hormonal new mommy reactions I might have to people’s comments.

    • John Cave Osborne

      i’m guessing you’re able to test out my theory by now, as well as hoping that all is well with you and your crew.

  • Staciekeller

    Cute, post….we actually call my husband’s twin nephews the Magoo brothers. Seriously they look Just like him! 😉

    • John Cave Osborne

      stacie, sorry to take so long to respond. it’s been crazy around here. that’s funny about the Magoo twins. i LOVE mr. Magoo. wasn’t his voice done by the actor who played Thurston Howell III on Gilligan’s Island? hope y’all are doing well, my friend.

  • R_Mattocks

    He has your hair

    • John Cave Osborne

      is this the part where i call you a dick? or just acknowledge that it’s true.