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There’s nothing more precious in this world than a baby. Their squishy cheekies? Um, clearly a huge contributing factor to the sheer adorableness — especially if those pudgy little cheeks have dimples! We’re only being a little hyperbolic when we say that seeing a baby with dimples smile is akin to the touch of an angel.
In other words, they’re really cute. So, it may surprise you to learn that dimples are considered a developmental anomaly. An imperfection. A fluke that occurs in utero. It seems hard to believe, but it’s true. Let’s take a closer look.
What are baby dimples?
The U.S. National Library of Medicine defines dimples as “indentations on the cheeks.” To get to the bottom of the question, though, we need to dive into how (and why) baby dimples form.
What causes them?
Dimples have a way of making babies look like living kewpie dolls and turning everyone who sees them into cooing goofballs. Surely, such a trait must come from some divine process. Welp, not exactly. A muscular variation in a facial muscle called the zygomaticus major causes dimples.
You may not recognize this muscle by name, but you know it in action. It’s involved in facial expression, helping to raise the corners of your mouth when you grin. The zygomaticus major muscle starts at a bone in your cheek (aptly known as the zygomatic bone) and runs down to connect to the corner of your mouth. But in babies with dimples, the muscle divides into two separate bundles. One bundle continues down to connect at the corner of the mouth, while the other connects below the corner of the mouth and attaches to the skin above it. This split is often referred to as the bifid, or double, zygomaticus major muscle.
You’re probably still wondering, But what does that have to do with what we see? Well, it’s the movement of the skin over the bifid zygomaticus major when a baby smiles that results in the appearance of the dimple.
Will my baby have dimples?
It’s hard to say. Even if both genetic parents have dimples, there’s no guarantee their baby will too. Dimples might be a Mendelian trait, thus inherited in a genetically dominant way. There remains some debate about this but, for the sake of covering all our bases, let’s examine how genetics might play into the existence of dimples.
First, a refresher, because who isn’t rusty when it comes to middle school science? Johann Gregor Mendel discovered the fundamental laws of inheritance through his work with pea plants from 1856 to 1863. He deduced that genes come in pairs. You inherit them in distinct units, one set from your genetic mother and one set from your genetic father. Most genes have at least two variations or alternative forms that arise by mutation — known as alleles, these can be dominant or recessive.
Those who believe dimples are genetic consider them to be an inherited dominant trait. If one or both parents have dimples and their baby does too, it could be genetics at play. But it will take much more research into these distinctive indentations to make that determination for sure.
Are there different types of baby dimples?
When you think of dimples, does your brain picture pinchable baby cheeks? Us, too. Babies can also be born with a dimple in their chin, though. Chin dimples are also referred to as butt dimples, and you know what? They are just as cute as your baby’s actual bottom. This type of dimple is usually Y-shaped and right in the middle of your little one’s chin. In this case, the baby’s chin didn’t fuse right in utero, leaving a cleft in the jaw bone. Because the skin sinks into that space, you can see the “imperfection” in the skull.
There are also people blessed with one-sided dimples, which (as you probably guessed) are only on one side of the face and just as adorable as having two. One famous example of this type? Ariana Grande. There are also back dimples, which are little indentations right above the joint where your pelvis and spine meet.
Much like those on the cheeks, other types of dimples are due to an anomaly during embryologic development.
Do dimples go away?
In a word, no. The natural loss of fat as one gets older might make them appear less visible, but they won’t ever disappear. Your baby with dimples will grow into a kid with dimples and, later, an adult with dimples. So, hooray for forever cuteness!
What are some quotes about dimples?
“Dimples should come with a warning. Dangerous! Could knock your world off its axis, categorized as a weapon, proceed with caution.” — Adriana Law
“People with dimples have a divine role in this universe: smile!” — Toba Beta
“Then she smiles, and it turns out she has dimples, and it’s all over.” — Amie Kaufman, These Broken Stars
“‘But you have such dimples,'” said Anne, smiling affectionately into the pretty, vivacious face so near her own. ‘Lovely dimples, like little dents in cream. I have given up all hope of dimples. My dimple-dream will never come true; but so many of my dreams have that I mustn’t complain. Am I all ready now?'” — L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
“Oh, sweet is thy current by town and by tower, the green Sunnyvale and the dark linden bower. Thy waves as they dimple smile back on the plain, And Rhine, ancient river, thou’rt German again!” — Horace Binney Wallace
“A dimple on the chin, the devil within.” — Pope Paul VI
“Dimples on the face of a girl are more sweeter than sugar.” — Unknown
“This time, I know all of his tricks: dimples, divots, smiles, and cute eye-crinkle things. Bring it on. ” — Anne Eliot
“Wherever there is power, there is age. Don’t be deceived by dimples and curls. I tell you that babe is a thousand years old.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
“I feel about mothers the way I feel about dimples: because I do not have one myself, I notice everyone who does.” — Letty Cottin Pogrebin
“He has dimples. He’s easily the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. And I wish I’d never seen it.” — Tahereh Mafi, Unravel Me
“I want to rob a bank with a BB gun. “Give me all your money or I will give you a dimple! I will be rich, you will be cute. We both win.” — Mitch Hedberg