Hinde & Barden (1985, Anim. Behav., 33, 1371–1373) suggested that the teddy bear has evolved to match sign stimuli that release nurturant behaviour. Bears are usually bought for infants and young children. From an evolutionary perspective it seems paradoxical that young children who themselves require intensive nurture should exhibit a preference for objects that afford nurturing. The purpose of this study was to investigate the origin of the preference for nurturant sign stimuli. The preference for baby-featured bears was examined in three age groups: 4, 6 and 8 year olds. The 6 and 8 year olds significantly preferred baby-featured bears: however, the 4 year olds did not. The evolution of the teddy bear is thus apparently not driven by the ostensible consumer, the young child; the preference for baby features may be part of a wider, relatively late development of nurturant feelings towards young.