Newborn Baby Odor – Why Do Babies Smell So Good?

Newborn Baby Odor - Why Do Babies Smell So Good?

When you are close to a baby, do you feel that irresistible urge to sniff a rose? Don’t you feel that babies smell like milk? Do not worry if your answer is a solid yes. You are not alone or in the minority of wanting to do so. Well, what is it about babies that makes us want to sniff them all day long? We can’t stop wanting to inhale their sweet fragrance. Is it just us, or is it something in the air? We have collected all the information to answer your questions about the newborn baby smell.

Why Do Newborns Smell So Good? 

You probably want to know what causes that newborn baby smell which lasts for only the first couple of weeks. There are no definite answers to this question; however, there is one common theory about the reason for the unique smell of newborns. Anyone who has witnessed or experienced a birth can tell you that delivering a child can sure get messy. Newborns come into the world after many months of floating in the amniotic fluid, completely covered by the waxy white matter known as vernix caseosa. Very few people believe that these substances and fluids cause the newborn baby’s smell. This may also be why that special newborn scent lasts only for a few weeks. A recent study compared the smell of amniotic fluid to the smell of a newborn baby’s head. It was found that though a few components were similar, the newborn fragrance comprised more chemical elements and was exclusively distinct.

Indeed, whatever the cause for infant smell, we can say for sure that a newborn baby’s smell is as powerful as an identifying marker. In fact, in one very old study, 90 percent of new mothers were able to recognize their newborns by smell after spending ten minutes to an hour with their newborn child!

What Causes the Baby Scent?

What Causes the Baby Scent?

Babies naturally smell good. But what exactly causes the pleasant newborn baby scent? As already mentioned, no one knows. There are multiple other theories other than the common theory, which states that the amniotic fluid (in which the baby floats while in the mother’s womb) is the reason for their sweet fragrance. Let us highlight all the possible. 

One theory by George Preti, an analytical chemist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, suggests that the sweet scent of babies comes from the secreted chemicals in a baby’s sweat glands. As this scent lasts only for a few weeks, it could also be influenced by the baby’s metabolism, which alters once these babies begin drinking and eating and no longer receive any sustenance through a cord attached to their mother.

Another theory suggests that the scent originates from the whitish, waxy substance (vernix caseosa) that covers the skin of a newborn who has just arrived via the birth canal into the world. Preti also states that this substance is washed off immediately, but the scent may linger on the skin, which is why babies smell different.

Some also believe this smell seems to be a part of nature’s clever plan to make us fall in love with these completely dependent, needy beautiful creatures. According to Preti, this scent enables a mother to identify and bond with her infant. Research further displays that when a mother inhales the scent of her newborn child, the pleasure center of her brain lights up.

What If My Newborn Baby Doesn’t Smell So Good? 

It is a known fact that babies smell good when born. However, sometimes, you may want to go and sniff your baby only to realize that your baby doesn’t smell as heavenly as you expected. When you realize that your baby does not smell as good, you need to take some time and understand the root cause to get your gorgeous smelling baby back as soon as possible. Some possible causes of unpleasant baby scent may include:

1. Poop 

Newborn infants tend to poop a lot, and while the smell of newborn poop is not nasty, it can still cause a certain unpleasant smell. The solution to this is a diaper change. Also, along with changing a diaper, you need to make sure that you dispose of the diaper properly. One more suggestion, newborns are typically prone to blowout poops of another level, all the way up their back. Thus, it is not uncommon to find poop all the way up an infant’s back or even their hair. Such blowout poops may require a proper bath and a diaper change. These poops may require a bath (and a load of laundry!) in addition to the diaper change.

2. Milk or Formula Residue 

There is constant milk that dribbles out the side of your baby’s mouth during feeds and spit-ups that frequently happen once the baby is fed. However, sometimes you may experience a sour whiff smell. Even after wiping the baby continuously after feeds, the drips collate on their neck and body. The solution to this is a good bath. However, do remember to give baby sponge baths only until their umbilical cord falls.

3. Introducing Solids 

Once you introduce solids to your baby, once they are close to 6 months old, the infant poop starts smelling much more than what it used to. You may observe that your infant has larger poop in a range of different colors based on the foods that they are being fed. The solution to this problem is changing your baby’s diaper right away each time they poop. 

You are certainly not alone in finding yourself smitten by your new baby scent. As the baby grows older, you may find yourself missing your baby scent and wish you could have stored it someplace safe. Our only advice is to savor these moments with your infant as much as you can.

Also Read:

Newborn Baby Care Myths & Facts
Newborn Baby Care Tips for Parents
Newborn Infant Care Immediately after Birth

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Ruchelle has a vast experience working with clients in hospitality, health and wellness, entertainment, real estate, and retail. She aims to utilise her learnings to deliver quality content which will in turn help drive sales and customer engagement.