Baby Smell

Baby Smell: Good or Bad?

Last Updated on November 24, 2022 by Anne-Sophie Reinhardt

The combination of chemicals secreted by sweat glands, lingering amniotic fluid, and vernix caseosa (the white cheese-like cream that covers newborns at birth) is what is responsible for the unique smell that a newborn emits. Haha, the baby smell! Funny but sometimes terrifying for a new mom, right? This combination is believed to produce an intoxicating mixture of aromas that attracts you. It doesn’t matter what it is; the distinct scent provides a path to our brains and ultimately to our hearts and binds us to the little life we have.

Even though the baby’s newborn scent fades over time (usually at six weeks), many parents, including this one, still take a deep sniff of their child’s head regardless of age and enjoy the unique scent and comfort.

This Baby Smell Occurs Due to Delayed Bathing

Many hospital births used to require that babies were bathed and cleaned right away after they had been born. In some hospitals, this is still the policy. We are now beginning to understand the importance of delaying a bath and leaving the vernix on the infant. According to the World Health Organization, you should wait at least 24 hours after giving birth before taking your first bath. The better the bath, the longer you wait.

Baby Smell Occurs Due to Delayed Bathing
Delay of bathing is one of the causes of baby smell.

The baby should be delayed, and the vernix caseosa must be left intact. This will help to create a new baby smell. The infant bath can be delayed to allow mother and baby to bond and for skin-to-skin contact. Which will increase the chances of starting breastfeeding. This keeps your precious vernix, which is on your baby’s skin, where it belongs.

Importance of the Baby Smell for the Mother / Infant Bond

Research shows that mammals use their senses of smell to form a mother/baby bond. Studies have also shown that babies react to the scents of their parents. Babies prefer clothing that is scented with their mother’s milk. Preterm babies can feel calmed by the smell of their mother’s breast milk, which can also be used to provide pain relief.

baby smell
This is just for fun!

Babies bond better with strangers when they can smell their mother

Babies are more socially responsive to stranger women when they can smell their mothers’ body odor. Infants who were not with their mothers but were wearing their mother’s shirts showed the same openness to strangers as those with their mothers.

Clinical Usefulness of Maternal Odor in Newborns: Soothing and Feeding Preparatory Responses

Newborn breast-fed and bottle-fed infants’ responses to maternal odor.” Maternal odor was displayed for 1 minute to babies who were crying, sleeping, or awake. These odors were: 

  1. Own mother’s smell – presented a hospital gown that was worn by the baby’s mom 
  2. Another mother’s scent – presented a hospital dress from another baby’s mum 
  3. Clean gown – presented a clean hospital gown
  4. No gown – no gown. 

According to the results, crying babies stopped crying when their mother or another mother smelled.

Babywearing and Baby Smell

Babywearing and Baby Smell

The best safety tip for babies is to keep them “close enough kissable.” We could also say keep them close enough for them to smell. Both you and your baby will feel close and comfortable if they can smell you. Babywearing has many benefits. The best part is being able to remember that baby smell for the first few weeks.

  • Strengthens the bond between parents and babies, particularly during the “4th Trimester”.
  • Carrying babies makes them less likely to cry. Research has shown that infant crying is reduced by 3 hours of babywearing per day and 54% during the evening.
  • The depression scores of mothers who provided daily skin-to–skin contact for their infants were significantly lower.
  • Helps babies develop both emotionally and physically.
  • Mothers can respond to their babies by helping them.
  • This program helps mothers achieve their breastfeeding goals.
  • Reduced risk of SIDS/flat-head syndrome
  • Increases maternal physical and mental health. (Decreases in sleep disturbances by 18%, and gastrointestinal problems of 26%)
  • Promotes early language development. Babywearing is a great way to teach your baby how to talk.
  • This allows parents to see the world more clearly through their child’s eyes. Your baby can discover the world around them from the safety and comfort of their own body.
  • Through toddlerhood, it fosters closeness. You can also wear toddlers, which reminds them of their “homebase” and allows that bond to continue as the children grow.

Although the smell will eventually fade, your memories of it will not. If you are about to give birth, it is important to remember what nature intended. The World Health Organization suggests that you wait to bathe your baby and then enjoy the new smell.

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