Earlier this week on a day celebrated in China as Bachelors' Day, Duoduo was already dressed shortly after sunrise. It was her big day and she was going to look for a boyfriend. She is little more than 2 years old.
Duoduo arrived at the party with her parents in downtown Changsha, Hunan province a little after 9 a.m. Besides Duoduo, there were 30 babies between the age of 1 to 3 accompanied by their parents.
Parents in China are so worried about their children finding a spouse they often arrange blind dates or pressure their children to attend matchmaking events. But some parents are taking it to a new extreme. They are starting to look for a future spouse for their children while they are still using pacifiers.
This baby matchmaking event was organized by a website called BB Groupon, which sells baby care products. The matchmaker, Deng Peng, is the market manager of the website and Duoduo's father.
He explained that the parents born after China's one child policy became law in 1979 don't have siblings. As in many families, Duoduo lives with her grandparents during the weekdays while her parents are working. Most of the time she plays alone, and it is difficult for her to make friends her own age. He says she is lonely and getting depressed.
"I'm very worried about my daughter being alone. We want to organize this event to offer a platform for babies to meet and play together. It is very difficult for me to meet new people and it took me a long time to meet my wife. On the Bachelors' Day, adults are trying to find spouses. The babies shouldn't be alone either. It is too early to talk about marriage, of course, but it would be a welcome miracle if they really got married one day," said Deng Peng.
Parents believe this is a great way for their children to practice their social skills and gain experience with the other sex. A 24-year-old father, Mr. Yao, said "Through this kind of event, I hope my baby boy can build up his confidence and learn how to introduce himself properly in public. After he gained those skills, it would be much easier for him to find a spouse in the future."
Duoduo was overwhelmed by how many boys were at the party. Besides her, there were only two other little girls and 27 boys. The gender imbalance in China has soared since ultrasound technology became widely available in the 1980s and millions choose to abort baby girls in favor of having a son. The Chinese Academy of Social Science estimates that by 2020, 24 million Chinese men will be unable to find a wife. The gender imbalance leaves parents fearful of their children finding a good future spouse.
Gu, a mother of a 1-year-old boy, says all of her colleagues gave birth to boys this year. She is very worried about the future competition. Guo met her husband through a blind date that her parents set up. She brought her son to the event and hope he would end up with holding a girl's hand. But unfortunately, the competition was fierce on this day. Gu's son lost out to the guys who weren't wearing diapers.
After a few throws and kicks of the balloons, Duoduo was holding hands with a handsome toddler. Only time will tell if it is a true love match.
"We will try to arrange the two of them to play together often in the future. Maybe they can go to pre-school together," said Duoduo's father.