Feb 21 , 2020

What Babies Like To Smell

Different smells can awaken our instincts and evoke certain feelings within us. When we enjoy the scent of sizzling olive oil while cooking breakfast, we like to imagine our kitchens as fancy restaurants filled with all sorts of clientele and exotic recipes from around the world. When our noses get prickled by the pungent scent of smoke as we walk down the street, we instinctively turn away to safer and less odorous routes. Likewise, babies develop a liking (and dislike) to certain scents as their delicate noses develop, and use their own unique sense of smell to better navigate the world around them.

What You Like To Eat And Drink

Babies actually develop a fully functioning sense of smell while they’re still in the womb. Olfactory neurons and receptors in the brain that help them sense and react to smells, as well as nasal passages that inhale scent, fully form and develop around the 7th or 8th week of pregnancy. By the second trimester, the noses of babies in utero become ready to sense various smells in the womb.

Most of what a baby in utero smells and tastes actually comes from the amniotic fluid—a protective liquid that cushions and protects a delicate fetus, and provides it with all the nutrients it needs to survive. The different scents and odors coming from this fluid are known to be quite soothing and appealing for babies as some studies have shown that it helps reduce their levels of anxiety and stress.

The most impactful scents of the amniotic fluid actually come from the food and drinks that you consume during pregnancy. When you ingest solids or liquids, they get passed down onto the amniotic fluid and are in turn smelled and tasted by the baby. Studies have shown that babies actually develop strong preferences for their mother’s favorite snacks and beverages and that they can find the scent of certain food and drinks quite comforting as a result.

You can eat and drink certain food to your heart’s content if you’d like your baby to have a taste for them later in life. A young child might be turned off and disgusted by kale right away when they’re first exposed to it at three or four years old, but they won’t feel so hesitant to try it out if you allow them to taste and smell a bit of it while they’re still in the womb. You can even try tasting spicier and more pungent food like chili or barbecued chicken if you’d like your kids to become adventurous eaters later on.

Unwashed Breasts

Newborn babies are able to find their mothers’ breasts without assistance not long after birth. Even though their sense of sight might not be fully developed yet, they’re still able to recognize their mothers purely by scent. Both breastfed and bottle-fed babies strongly prefer the odor of their mother’s breasts over artificial chemicals or formula as it’s the scent that they found much comfort and security in while they were still in the womb.

A 1994 study that observed the breastfeeding habits of newborn babies found that infants generally preferred to suckle from breasts that were unwashed as opposed to breasts that were washed with soap. Using scented soaps and other products can, in fact, disrupt the breastfeeding process as they can get in the way of your body’s natural odors—something which babies have to rely on when they need to look for their mother’s breasts.

Familiar Smells

We always find more comfort in the familiar than in the strange and new. The scents of beloved parents, siblings, and family members can be a great source of joy and comfort for babies. After all, they often calm down and feel better when they’re resting in your arms instead of just lying in a crib by themselves. Even your clothes and belongings can be a great source of comfort for them since they contain your natural soothing scent.

Toys, clothes, blankets, and other belongings that your baby has grown to love over time also contain familiar and soothing smells. When babies cry or feel distressed, you can easily comfort them with their favorite toys or even some of your own favorite things. These beloved items can help your baby feel safe and secure if you can’t cuddle or hug them just yet. In fact, some doctors like to comfort premature babies by letting them sleep near their parent’s clothing—that way, babies can still enjoy the familiar and soothing scents of their parents even if they aren’t near.

Natural Remedies

Some natural remedies—mainly aromatherapy and essential oils—can have an attractive and soothing effect on babies. Some studies have even shown that babies greatly enjoy the scent of chamomile and vanilla, as well as lemon, lavender, and other sweet aromas. If you’ve got some minty herbs at home, you can even let your baby smell and relish their fresh scent.

It’s best not to go overboard with these remedies, though. As powerful as babies’ noses are, they still need to be treated with plenty of love and care. Avoid using scents that are too powerful, such as scented candles or strong perfumes, as they can easily irritate your baby’s nose and cause side effects. Instead, try using diffusers or other items that can make products less pungent for your baby’s sensitive sense of smell.

A baby’s senses can indeed help them become familiar with a huge and ever-changing world. There might be a few roadblocks that you might encounter as your baby’s sense of smell continues to grow and develop—mainly, clogged noses and nasty colds. Having a reliable baby nasal aspirator on hand can help you keep your baby’s nose comfortable, healthy, and strong. We’ve got a great baby nasal aspirator you can use for months on end on our online store, so why not order yours today with just one click?