'Hideous', 'too Asian': Aussie baby beauty contest voting abandoned after parents bully contestants

A popular Australian baby photo competition has abandoned public voting because people keep bullying the children.

The Bonds Baby Search is an annual contest in which parents submit photos of their young children in the hopes of winning prizes including cash, holidays and vouchers.

It's been running for 16 years, and usually lets members of the public vote and comment on the photos of the young entrants.

But Bonds has announced major changes to the competition, including that the public will no longer get to vote. Instead daily winners will be picked at random by staff members throughout February, with two overall 'Wonderbub' champions to be announced in March, also selected by Bonds.

The company website says it made the decision to can public voting "in the spirit of celebration" and "to make the competition as fair and fun as possible".

The 'People's Choice' category has been removed, as have the age categories, and Australians now have the option of entering their pets in the new 'Fur Baby' division.

The overhaul comes after online trolls left hateful comments about the babies' appearances.

In 2011 a comment reading 'Bonds Australia, not Asia' was left under a photo of a mixed-race baby. That same year another young entrant was called an "ugly duckling", reports The Herald Sun.

In 2014 two finalists with Down Syndrome were ridiculed by commenters who called them "hideous" and "plain and weird".

Nine.com.au reports the comments may have been left by parents who wanted to boost their own children's chances of winning the competition.

One commenter wrote that their kids were "a lot better looking than the ones chosen".