"Exceptional Care for Families with Newborns"

Why do Babies Smell Amazing?

Babies smell amazing

Babies smell amazing, there’s no doubt about that! 

I mean c’mon! You’re holding a new baby, it doesn’t matter if it’s yours or someone else’s. It’s swaddled up like a burrito when you bring it up to your face. You take a big breath in and you just melt into the beauty and sweetness of that infant.

You look up at whoever is close enough to hear you and say, “Babies smell amazing!”

But why? Why do babies smell amazing? What makes them smell that way and why do they at some point start smelling like regular people?!

Well, we looked at the research and we want to share what we found with you!

A study was done in 2013 (I know, it’s a bit antiquated but it showed some cool info!) with 30 female participants (Yes, I agree, that’s not many). 15 women who had recently given birth for the first time and 15 women who hadn’t. The 30 women were analyzed as they took in the body odor of unfamiliar 2 day old infants.

For the first 2 nights of 18 infant’s lives, they slept in 100% cotton, (previously washed in odorless detergent) undershirts.

After utilizing a bunch of scientific methods for obtaining the odor from the undershirts and presenting it to the participants without them actually sniffing the baby, the following was realized.

The data suggested that the body odor of the infants triggered activation in reward-related cerebral areas in all of the women regardless of their maternal status. In fact, the tentative data suggested that this “trigger” may act as a catalyst in bonding mechanisms for mothers toward their babies.

The theories behind why babies smell amazing.

No one actually knows the answer to why babies smell so amazing, but George Preti, PhD, an analytical chemist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center has a theory.

He suggests that it comes from chemicals secreted from a baby’s sweat glands. He believes it may be based on metabolism. Since the smell dissipates after approximately 6 weeks, perhaps as the baby’s metabolism changes, the scent their bodies create changes as well.

Another theory is that the scent of a newborn comes from the residue of having vernix caseosa, (the white waxy, cheesy substance on the babies body during pregnancy that can be seen at birth) on the babies skin. That it is the vernix that produces the intoxicating scent and not the actual baby.

Of the 2 theories, we are more inclined to buy the first. That this is metabolism based rather than vernix based. But what do we know… lol.

Babies think their moms smell amazing too!

As much as you love the smell of your baby, the coolest part is that they love the smell of your body too! Previously researched data indicates that babies prefer the scent of their own mother’s milk to that of another woman’s and that they show a preference toward clothes worn by their own mothers.

Bonding!

Bonding is not simply a word thrown around in birth. It is a powerful biological process in which individuals develop a connection. It is where attachment begins and security evolves.

The bottom line is, smell your babies! Often! Let them smell you too! In 1992, they said the scent of a woman was a pretty powerful thing but the real power is in the amazing scent of a baby!

Authored by: The Rock n’ Roll Doula