Ahhh, is there anything quite like the smell of a newborn baby? If you’ve had children, you likely can immediately recall that specific scent. It gives most people a feeling of comfort, peace, and love.
Even those among us who are not parents yet can remember holding a niece or nephew or friend’s baby and breathing in that sweet scent. But why are we so obsessed with the smell of a newborn baby? It all comes down to science.
The study of newborn scent
A popular study by Frontiers in Psychology tried to get to the bottom of this phenomenon. Researchers had two groups of women smell a variety of aromas including the scent of a newborn captured on pajamas worn by an infant.
The groups were divided evenly between mothers and non-mothers. The lead scientists studied the brain waves of each woman as she inhaled the odor while hooked up to fMRI machines.
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Newborn smell lights up the brain
In both mothers and non-mothers, the parts of the brain that hold dopamine lit up considerably when smelling the newborn scent. Dopamine is produced in the body in response to pleasure and it sets off a flutter of positive brain activity.
Researchers say that these regions of the brain are the same that delight in enjoying a good meal (which brings a whole new meaning to the old phrase often said about babies being so cute you could eat them up). In a fascinating way, newborn scent feeds the brain and floods it with feel-good hormones.
Enjoy it while you can
That newborn smell is something moms immediately miss once our kids get to the toddler stage and beyond, but suffice it to say that just thinking about the early days or looking at photos of newborn babies elicit a comforting and happy response in many of us.