Newborn Baby Smell is a Real Thing

There’s nothing quite like the smell of a freshly baked newborn head.

That delicious aroma is to a mother what a caramel slice is to a sugar lover; sweet, intoxicating and just a little bit addictive.

Now research has confirmed that ‘baby smell’ is a REAL thing and there’s a scientific reason we want to #sniffallthebabies

It turns out that the smell of a newborn lights up the reward centres of the brain. In other words, the scent makes us feel all warm and fuzzy. It’s the very same thing that happens when you’re hangry as hell and finally get your cheeseburger. It’s also what happens to drug addicts when they finally get a hit of their substance of choice. That’s some powerful scent right there!

That newborn baby smell

Researchers from the University of Montreal looked at the different ways that odour affects our brain. To test the power of newborn baby scent, researchers captured the smell by freezing the two-day-old pyjamas worn by newborns. They captured the scent and turned it on 30 women, half who were already mothers and half who hadn’t started baby makin’, while under an fMRI scanner.

Scientists asked the women to describe the scent while also monitoring their brain activity. For the mothers in the group, their reward centre lit up like a Christmas tree (our words). The women without kids? Not so much.

newborn wont sleep letter to mums

A survival mechanism?

This goes partway in explaining why, despite minimal sleep, nipples resembling crushed raspberries and the inability to sit for more than five minutes at time, we remain intoxicated by our newborns. We are literally addicted to them.

The lead scientist for the study Dr Frasnelli says the way scent taps into our reward centres indicates why new parenthood can make mums and dads so deliriously happy. Even without the baby in front of them, the research subjects’ brains were flooded with feel-good endorphins. That fuzzy feeling you get when your kids aren’t being feral (usually after they’ve gone to bed and you’re sitting down for the first time since 9am)? Yeah, that’s those endorphins.

Could newborn baby smell be bottled? If only. We reckon you’d have a licence to print money. Men weren’t included in the study so it’s not clear whether ‘newborn scented candles’ would work for them. More research needs to be done to uncover whether the reaction is innately human or an experience exclusive to women.

Till then, we’ll just be over here, happily sniffing #allthebabies

Deep in the newborn haze? Here’s 12 super useful parenting tips you need to know RIGHT NOW

Avatar of Naomi Foxall

Naomi is 3/4 latte drinking, peanut butter obsessed former magazine girl who now does stuff with words for a living while juggling 2.5 kids, 2 cats, 1 rabbit, husband and an unhealthy obsession with slow cooking.

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