Around this time last year, I got the best news of my life: My husband and I were expecting a baby! We kept it to ourselves for a while, but soon told our family and friends. As I inevitably expanded, I was asked the inevitable question: Will the little one have red hair too?
This was a perfectly reasonable question as I was born with screaming red hair –the kind of shade that has prompted numerous strangers to tell me I have the map of Ireland written on my face despite the fact that I’m mostly Italian. I inherited these locks from my (Italian) mother, and my husband’s mother and grandfather are also gingers. Needless to say, the odds were in the little guy’s favor.
Thirty-eight weeks slugged by, and I’d estimate that I heard the question about three times a week. Coworkers joked about it. Family members hoped for it. Random people at the grocery store thought it would be terrific. Naturally all my husband and I prayed for was a healthy child. Whether he popped out with red, blonde, brown, or green hair, we’d cuddle and dote on him just the same. But I’d be lying if I said I never crossed my fingers and daydreamed about strolling down the street with a fiery-headed toddler in tow.
Here are some facts to see if you will have a redhead baby:
1. In order for a baby to have red hair, both parents have to carry the gene, since it’s a recessive trait. So if you’re a ginger and you marry a ginger, odds are, your kids will be gingers, too. If only one parent has the locks but the other is a carrier, the baby’s chances are 50/50. If neither of you are red but you both are carriers, you have a one in four chance of a fiery-haired child. And, sorry to say, if only one parent is not a carrier (even though the other is), you’ve got no shot. [Source]
2. Even though you might not be a redhead yourself, studies estimate that 25 percent of Caucasian Americans carry the ginger gene, so if you fall into this category you might end up with a redheaded baby when you’re least expecting it. [Source]
My reasons weren’t purely aesthetic, because for me, my hair color is a huge part of my personality. I’m confident. I’m intelligent. I’m friendly. I’m funny (though my husband says it’s usually when I don’t mean to be). Growing up, my hair helped me cultivate these qualities. I’m used to strangers addressing me simply because they want to pay me a compliment about my hair; therefore I have no problem doing the same to someone else when I like their outfit or a speech they presented. On the first day of school when teachers called my name, they also told me they liked my hair; hence I became comfortable in a classroom from an early age, absorbed more information, and was never too timid to raise my hand when I knew the answer. I’m often the only redheaded in my group of friends, so I developed a good sense of direction; since I’m the most easily spotted in a crowd, my pals often followed me when we were out.
Here are some other fun facts about redheads in general:
- Enjoy those baby blues while they last. The world’s rarest hair and eye color combo is red hair and blue eyes. [Source] number 4 on list ]
- Redheads are more likely to be left-handed. [Source]
- Redheaded babies are the cutest babies. Ok, this one’s just my opinion.
I want all this and more for my child. More than I want to dress him in t-shirts that have fun redheaded slogans, I want him to be confident. I want him to know he’s smart. I want him to not be afraid to be kind. Though hair color doesn’t determine these qualities, I know from experience that it helps.
Sixteen weeks after birth, what’s the verdict? The jury’s still out. The baby was born with dark hair. Those strands have now mostly fallen out, and it looks like some red is replacing it. Only time will tell.
But I still have my fingers crossed.
Rock it like a Redhead!