Wednesday Trivia: New-Baby Smell

two-women-grandparents_300It’s not the powder or the laundry detergent. New-baby smell is real—and it’s irresistible.

In a recent study published in Frontiers in Psychology, researchers monitored the brain activity of 30 women who were asked to sniff pajamas worn by newborns. Half the women were new moms and half hadn’t had children, but in every case the brain’s reward center lit up, just as it would have if they had been consuming chocolate (or, uh, cocaine).

Scientists don’t know what causes the scent or how long it lasts in infants. “We think it consists of roughly 250 chemicals,” says study coauthor Johan Lundström, Ph.D., an associate professor at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, in Philadelphia. Anyone can experience the mood boost that the aroma provides, but moms benefit in specific ways. “In mothers, the scent activates not just the reward center but also a part of the brain that controls feelings of attachment. We think it gives moms the urge to take care of their infants,” says Lundström.

The smell would make the ultimate Mother’s Day gift (eau de bébé, anyone?), if scientists could just figure out how to bottle it. Until then, try one of these picks.


  1. sam-c

    have studies shown that c-section babies have ‘new baby smell’?
    my first was NOT- c-section and the 2nd one WAS c section. the 2nd one did not have a new baby smell. believe me, I sniffed and actually got pretty sad that he didn’t ‘smell’. (or hormones, or baby blues made me sad, who knows.)

    May 8, 2014 at 4:12 pm

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s