Pros and Cons of Infant Pageants: What You Should Know

Updated February 4, 2022
Mother clothing baby in home bedroom

Infant beauty pageants are undoubtedly controversial. Some people see them as harmless fun, while others are appalled by the very concept. If you're considering entering your baby in one of these events, it's helpful to understand both points of view. Be sure to make an informed and educated decision on whether participating in baby pageants is a good idea for your child.

The Pros of Infant Pageants

Many parents make solid arguments in favor of entering their babies into pageants. For these families, the pageant world creates opportunity, fun, and connectivity that makes all the dedication and prep work totally worthwhile.

Baby Pageants Are a Fun Bonding Experience

Assuming both you and your baby are naturally outgoing, participating in a pageant with your child can be a good way to enjoy spending time together while meeting other families with similar interests. Pageants are full of families who also enjoy performing, getting glammed up, and honing in on talents. Baby pageants can afford an opportunity to become part of a likeminded community.

Mother with daughter funny smiling

Pageants Teach Poise and Self-Confidence

Although this is hard to quantify, many parents of children who have participated in pageants say the experience has helped their kids become more comfortable in a variety of social situations. Of course, you won't likely see these benefits off the bat, especially as babies aren't known for their poise or for outwardly displaying their confidence levels, but should you stick with the activity, over time you might see these traits emerge.

Exposure That May Lead to a Modeling or Acting Career

Not all pageant contestants end up with careers in show business, but talent scouts have been known to look for babies to appear in magazine advertisements and TV commercials at these events. If you are sure your child has the face and personality of a star, then infant pageants might be right up your alley. When deciding to go this route, be sure to do your homework and only engage in business with reputable agencies and companies.

Money Is Available for Your Child's Education

Pageant winners often receive cash prizes and college scholarships. If your baby wins several major pageants, this can be a great way to contribute to her future educational expenses. Remember that any prize money you and your tot do take home as a winner will be offset by the expenses that pageant participants commonly accrue.

Cons Against Baby Pageants

There are also a number of arguments against entering your baby in a pageant. While being a part of the beauty pageant business and culture appeals to many, to others, there are far more cons than pros to consider. Even if you choose to enter a baby contest or child beauty pageant, you should be well aware of the drawbacks so you can make a well-rounded decision for your child and family.

Baby Pageants Encourage Unhealthy Focus on Physical Appearance

Pageants for older children and teenagers have talent competitions, but obviously, this isn't possible for an infant. Baby pageants are judged solely on looks. Consider your parenting practices and your family values, and decide if you are okay with your child growing up in a culture that heavily emphasizes physical appearances.

Manicure for girls

Pageants Are Time Consuming

Participating in pageants is a big time commitment, especially if you travel to national competitions or plan to allow your child to compete once she's older. If you have other children, they may be jealous of the time devoted to this hobby. If you do decide pageant life is for you, be sure to balance it with other important family activities. Don't let the focus of family life ever be about one child and their personal activities.

They Cultivate a Win or Nothing Mentality

In the beginning, your baby won't grasp the concept of winning. They won't have a clue whether they earned first place or last place in a pageant. Over time, however, they might learn to adopt a win or nothing mentality regarding pageants. The pressure to take home first prize can weigh on kids in the pageant world, and adverse effects like anxiety, depression, and other mental disorders are not uncommon in those who engaged in child pageants.

Infant Pageants Are Expensive

There are ways to keep the cost of pageants down, such as buying a used dress for your daughter and only entering small, local pageants. That said, between entry fees, photos, possible travel expenses, and hair, makeup, and dress, pageants can easily become a very expensive hobby that diverts funds from other activities.

Expenses Associated With Entering Infant Beauty Pageants

You can find infant pageant opportunities near you on the internet. There are many local, regional, and national pageants available for infants.

Baby with bare feet standing on high heels on white tile floor.

Pageant Entry Fee: $50 to $500

Most require pre-registration and payment of an entry fee, which can range from $50 upward to several hundred dollars.

Pageant Clothing: $50 to Hundreds of Dollars

As far as clothing is concerned, pageant dresses are definitely much more formal than the outfits your baby wears on a daily basis. Brand new pageant dresses can be very expensive, but keep in mind that it's perfectly acceptable to purchase a used dress from another pageant contestant or a discount dress. Because babies grow so fast, infant pageant dresses are usually only worn once or twice. If you are a talented seamstress or know someone who is, sewing a custom dress is another money-saving option to consider as well. Each outfit will cost anywhere from about $50 up to several hundred dollars, and your baby may need more than one pageant outfit.

Portfolio Photos: $0 to Hundreds of Dollars

Many pageants for infants will require a portfolio of pictures. If you get serious about pageant competitions, you'll probably want professional photos. However, this is not necessary at the very beginning stages. Practice taking pictures of your baby with your digital camera, or hire a talented photography student or local photographer working on building their brand to take some portraits for you. The cost of pageant photos can range anywhere from just the cost of your camera to hundreds of dollars.

Baby in photo studio session

Additional Expenses: $0 to Hundreds of Dollars

Along with standard expenses, pageant parents often drop money on other items and services, including tanning, makeup, hairstyling, travel, and more. This is true even in the baby pageant world, which can be quite competitive and therefore quite costly.

Understand the Pros and Cons of the Pageant World

Infant pageants aren't for everyone, but for some parents and their babies, they present unique opportunities and experiences not offered anywhere else. Make an informed decision based on the benefits and drawbacks of infant pageants in order to make the best choice for your family. Remember, whatever you choose is not set in stone. As your child grows, continue to assess your place in the pageant world. It is always perfectly fine to bow out of this culture, should it no longer properly serve you and your child.

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Pros and Cons of Infant Pageants: What You Should Know