The Perfect Baby Blog

The vast, bizarro world of “The Cute Kid” contest

Saturday, June 20th, 2009


PANIC: "Mom, am I cute enough?"

Candid admission: Earlier tonight, I saw the horror movie Drag Me To Hell (a smartly cheesy film about a young mortgage-loan manager cursed by a bug-eyed gypsy). I’m a little jumpy, unhinged. But even if I’d been calmer when I stumbled on The 2009 Cute Kid of the Year website, I suspect it would have unnerved me.

In its own pastel way,
this photo contest is freaking surreal.

It’s like discovering a vast underworld, entirely populated by parents who are compelled to confirm that their kids are “cute.” Marketably cute. Olive-Garden-commercial cute. And are gullible enough to pay $19.95 just to submit their child’s photo. (“Never use makeup on the child, natural is always better,” urges a veteran entrant.) It’s unclear whether the parents are operating under a gypsy curse. appears to be largely a scam, albeit one with credible “sponsors” such as Gerber and Parents Magazine. The site claims that “not only [modeling] agents, but casting directors” will scrutinize the photos and hints heavily that a trillion-dollar GapKids contract is a distinct possibility.

And don’t forget the Grand Prize—”a cash investment worth close to $25,000 towards college tuition*”—note the asterisk after the word “tuition.” The expected footnote, clarifying this diabolically vague phrase, is nowhere to be found.

I’m now officially obsessed with, and its seventeen sub-categories (baby, toddler, “big kid,” pre-teen, multiples, etc.) and it endless array of large-eyed pixies and smoldering twins. It’s all so very fishy.

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What people are saying

  1. I have to comment, as my experience with was absolutely great. We didn’t win, but my baby was picked as a sneak peek and we got a free entry to the next month’s contest. I know lots of other moms who entered too, and they were all pleased. You can get a free canvas too. I read about the 2008 winner and she did get the tuition prize and went to NY.

    Molly B.
  2. Thanks for sharing your experience, Molly.

  3. Everybody can get a “free” canvas. The canvas is the hook.

    You should NEVER have to pay to get your kid looked at by a legit agent or legit companies that hire children through legit agents. It’s got to be a scam!

  4. I’m sorry to say that I, a college-educated former newspaper reporter, was just duped out of $19.95.

  5. Yes, I too, a college grad and former PI just paid. What I found very interesting about this particular contest is that they claim they don’t want professional photos but yet it seems like all the winners look they were shot on a pro set by a pro. Yet the sneak peeks seem to be more of a candid home quality. It is for that very reason I came searching for some more info and accounts by others about this site.

    Dannielle Pohlman
  6. The Cute Kid website is a legitmate business. It helped launch my daughter’s career in modeling.. By signing up as a member (Free) to their website, I was able to find out when Ford Elite Modeling Agency had an open call. My daugher was later offered a 3 year contract with them

  7. Yeah, is a real scam. I asked what the 19.95 charge is for and have yet to get a real answer. What i would like to know is what am i getting for my money. Tell me it is not just a Canvas picture and some stroy about agents and casting pros going to look at my kid. Wow i would like to know how many others is my baby competing with. Nice try, i may be a mexican but i can tell a scam mile away.

    Julie Ramos
  8. I have to admit I also paid the $19.95 to submit a picture of my newborn baby. Not the smartest move I’ve ever made. Now, two months later, the company has deducted $39.90 out of my account for no reason. To no surprise, I can’t get a hold of a representative for an explanation. Please, don’t be a victim of this company!

    Jenny Speck
  9. That CuteKid website is actually legit. I personally know the winner of their Outreach Center Model search from Texas. They paid for her flight, hotel and gave her a cash prize.

    If you read their spotlights page she’s there and many other kids who actually got big modeling jobs from joining I say it’s worth the $20 bucks for the shot to win and get spotted.

  10. The CuteKid is such a fun site. My niece is a winner. She was also asked to audition for a commercial. I recommend the site. Even if you don’t win, you still get to see all the cuties. 🙂

    Helga S.
  11. I don’t think TheCuteKid is a scam at all. They actually provide you with real, useful information and up to date casting calls. They’ve been giving opportunities in lots of their monthly contests like modeling contracts & such…not to mention they receive casting calls in which the agent is only interested in casting a child from their site.

    At $19.95 for a shot at winning some money towards college and a shot at being seen, I think it’s worth it.

  12. free canvass is a laugh, shipping is like 20$, you can get that canvas from artscow for about half the price and free shipping.

    it is a total scam.

  13. Parents, biologically speaking, always believe their little bundle is just the most beautiful thing in the world. This scam preys off on that delusion. Can you imagine how much they are making with every single picture paying $20?! Cutekid is a bunch of smoke and mirrors, nothing else.

  14. They charged me $19.95 three times. Each time it said your address does not match your billing address. I thought this must be a sign and I’m glad I didn’t get dupped. too late, times three.

  15. That’s $19.95 PER photo and you are strongly encouraged to keep your photo’s current, because talent scouts and agents are “always looking”, someone is getting very VERY rich on the backs of duped parents.

    P.S. I think Molly is the exception, not the rule.

  16. Did anyone actually receive the “free” canvas? That would make it worth it!

  17. […] an interesting blog post about it: The vast, bizarro world of “The Cute Kid” contest – The Perfect Baby Blog If you're really interested in having your child model, you can submit snapshots for […]

    Anyone have their kids involved with anything like The Cute Kid? -
  18. I have entered the contest in the past, and my son was chosen as an honorable mention, but he’s never made it past that. Any pictures submitted have to be professional quality, even though they say that they don’t want that (look at the winners pictures, yes, they do want that). I have also noticed that many parents are photo shopping the eyes. It is quite noticeable in a lot of the photos.

  19. I really think it depends on how u look at it I entered the contest paid my 19.95 ONLY because I use to model and 20 for exposure is great compared to how much money some of these “agencies” want and its true u should never pay an agency up front for anything but this contest is not an agency its more of a tool to catch attention from agencies like creating a website or portfolio which costs money. I do think its a wee bit scammy because it seems like it leads u to lots of links that want your money but now a days if u don’t read between the lines EVERY company will try to get u. Also to reply to the comment that parents are looking for validation for their childs cuteness I guess that can be true in some cases but not for everyone I mean my child is beautiful hands down and when I hear everyday “wow he should be a gerber baby” it gets me thinking why not? What’s the gerber baby got that my lil reggie doesn’t? And why not enter him in a contest that could give him an opportunity to win some cash or some photo shoots that can pay us cash especially since that cash will go straight to him anyway (I spoil him like crazy but he’s my only baby I can’t help it lol) so I don’t know jus some things that I thought about when I entered the contest

  20. This is a total scam! $20 to enter a photo contest. Com’on folks, yes, big time SCAM!

  21. You should never have to pay to get your child’s photo entered into a contest. Sadly, I think the Cute Kid Contest is just another scam. If you want your child to make it big, you will need to do more work than just this.

  22. Thank you for clearing this up. Should be called “The Cute Kid,” and “The Delusional Mom” contest. The first chick commenting sounds like an employee of Parents Media.

  23. The Cute Kid is of course a big time SCAM!!!!!

  24. What they are forgetting to mention is that their “free” canvas (Just an 8 x 10 photo with no frame)requires you to pay 14.95 for shipping! I never knew paper cost that much to ship! Also, if you want a frame or color enhancements that’s another 10.00-20.00 plus shipping. Their “canvas” are nothing more than a computer print out! Try star power or another free casting site if you are really into that. Or do what I do, enroll your child in theatre classes and they will let you know of casting calls and auditions. Performing Arts builds self confidence! Don’t pay for casting calls! Or auditions! If they want your money they are not for real!

  25. “And don’t forget the Grand Prize—”a cash investment worth close to $25,000 towards college tuition*”—note the asterisk after the word “tuition.” The expected footnote, clarifying this diabolically vague phrase, is nowhere to be found.”

    It is found in the contest rules page. They invest $10,000 into a 529 plan and based off, what they say is, past performance growing over a 16 year period should equal out to aprox $25000.

    I found your page because like you I feel it is a scam. Not saying there aren’t “winners” but they have a rule set in place that they don’t have to pay out the full reward if there aren’t enough contestants in a given month. Also you have to win your month, if you don’t then I am sure (don’t know this from experience) they ask you if you want to resubmit the following month at an extra $20. It is hard to find legitimate agencies for child modeling or acting. I will not pay for the chance, that just doesn’t seem to make sense.

  26. I come from the Industry in L.A.

    If you want to get your kid in, it isn’t rocket science, but be prepared to do alot of hard work on your OWN, with NO guarantees. No “Cute Kid” site is going to make your kid a star.

    You need to get yourself to a major metro area: LA or NY and do the work of contacting legitimate agents and setting up interviews. Pics and resumes are essential. NO legit agent will charge you a fee; the only money you should EVER shell out is for high quality photos (any kid age 4 and up), resumes, and your gas/phone bill/airfare/hotels. YOU choose your own photographer. NEVER let an agency or management company lure you into using theirs.

    There are legitimate informational websites that give you tools and all the legalities of kids working in film/TV. Children in Film charges a membership fee but has great information.

    Bottom line: Ditch The Cute Kid sites; spend the $$ where it mattres (acting classes are important). If you live in Poughkeepsie, don’t expect your child to have a career as a model or TV actor. You need to be in LA, NY, Chicago and sometimes SF.

  27. I have paid, too, but agree with the woman who said all the winners appear to be not only professionally photographed, but professionally “made up.” I wish my make-up looked as good as some of those youngsters!

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