Oh man, is there anything like the smell of a newborn baby? Just one whiff is enough to get those ovaries fluttering. If you’ve had babies, you know you’ve spent hours just sniffing their downy little heads. Maybe you think it’s weird! Or maybe you think it’s all in your head. Well, we have some news for you: science can explain why newborn babies smell so delicious. Science is pretty great sometimes.
If you’ve ever wondered why newborn babies smell so delicious, you might find this study to be of interest!
In a 2013 study, physician Johannes Frasnelli looked at how women responded to newborn body odor. His team recruited 30 women; 15 of them had just given birth, and 15 of them had never given birth. The women were then asked to smell the head of a newborn (not their own) who was less than two days old. Brain scans of the women showed some pretty surprising results! According to researchers, “body odors from 2 day-old newborns elicit activation in reward-related cerebral areas in women.” It didn’t matter if the women were in the postpartum group or not, either. The scans from both groups showed the same results!
This reaction serves a biological purpose, too. We all know that newborn babies aren’t exactly fun to be around, right? They don’t do much except cry, they need to be fed constantly, and don’t even get us started on the sleep thing. Dr. Frasnelli says, “there must be mechanisms which allow for a very strong bond between parents, especially mothers, and the baby. We think that the odor of babies is involved in one of these mechanisms”.
Researchers aren’t sure exactly what is responsible for that delightful smell. But they have some theories!
Some believe it could be the baby’s sweat glands. Others think it might be lingering vernix caseosa (the stuff covering babies after they’re born). Whatever the cause or reason, there’s no denying that it’s an intoxicating scent. We love when science explains something about pregnancy and parenthood! It’s all so fascinating.
So now that you know why newborn babies smell so delicious, go ahead and sniff away! It doesn’t last forever, and honestly, it’s one of the best parts of the newborn stage.
(Image: iStock / GeorgeRudy)