Those who have smelled a baby up close, especially if they smell its head, quickly discover that the natural scent of the baby is very pleasant. The reason for this smell, however, is not trivial: it is a trick of nature to ensure the survival of babies .
Good smells, expressive faces
Basically, babies sleep, eat, and poop on themselves. Sometimes they can even spend a long time crying uncontrollably. However, most parents say that having a child is an incredible experience , probably the best of their lives.
The smell of babies could be involved in this mechanism that causes what is apparently undesirable, as described above, is not so undesirable after all. In other words, smell could underlie the mechanism that so strongly links children and parents.
In other words, babies could be attracting their parents with their body scent to keep them fed, sheltered and safe .
In 2013, Johannes Frasnelli , a professor of anatomy at the University of Quebec, was one of the authors of a study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology that looked closely at how women responded to newborn body odor. He and his colleagues recruited 30 women, including 15 who had just given birth and 15 who had never had a baby.
Each of those women was subjected to the scent of an unknown newborn that was less than 2 days old. The results confirmed what mothers everywhere already know: The smell of the baby is fascinating. Brain scans of the participants showed that "2-day-old newborns’ body odors cause activation of reward-related brain areas in women."
Researchers are not entirely sure what gives the baby’s scent this power, although there are some theories: Some speculate that it comes from its sweat glands, or that it is the lingering odor of [vernix caseosa] (vernix caseosa), l a substance that covers babies when they are born and is washed off after birth .
Previous research has shown that babies can differentiate between their mother’s milk and other women’s milk based on their smell, and that they even prefer the clothes worn by their mother over other women. Mothers, in turn, find the smell of their own child’s poop more pleasant than that of other babies. That is, the power of scent seems to go both ways .
Naturally, if it really is a trick of nature for parents to hook on their baby (or babies in general), smell is not the only strategy to achieve it. There are also other tricks , such as expressive eyes and short, stubby arms, among others.