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The Intoxicating, Indescribable Smell Of A Newborn Baby

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"So good I could just eat you."

New mum Angela found herself saying these words over and over to her new baby as she bent her nose to her baby's head. Her newborn captivated her and the smell kept her coming back.

"I would drink it up, like a nasal elixir. I found it more enticing than any perfume, any new car smell, and any food smell, including freshly baked cake."

This powerful, almost desperate need to inhale your baby's smell prompts the powerful feelings of protection, love and belonging.

It's known known to all mothers, and bonds each irrevocably to her baby - as nature intended. 

In 2013, a study from University of Montreal tried to find out more about the new baby smell. Turns out, it last for only six weeks. Then poof! It's gone and what's left is the rather less enticing smell of poo and wee filled nappies.

The study scanned the brains of 30 women, 15 of whom had given birth three to six weeks earlier and 15 of whom had never had a baby.

Each were presented them with either the scent of a newborn baby or just fresh air (‘essence of newborn’ was captured by taking t-shirts that babies had worn for two days) .

As soon as the newborn scent was detected, the pleasure centers of the all the women sparked, but in the new mums they lit much brighter.

According to the University study, the scent of a newborn baby taps into the pleasure centers of a woman’s brain, whether the smell comes from her own baby or, fascinatingly, someone else’s. This explains why older women rush to pick up newborn babies perhaps.

The findings, published in Frontiers in Psychology.Acc, showed the bonding tool in action in brain scans.

One of the authors Johannes Frasnelli explains “These are the areas of the brain that are activated if you are very hungry and you finally get something to eat or if you are a drug addict and you finally get the drug you were craving.”

Frasnelli, a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer in the department of psychology at the University of Montreal, goes on to say:

“Apparently nature has provided us with a tool that helps with the bonding between a mother and her newborn child. It’s very strong.

“A mother with her first child goes from living life in a couple to all of a sudden having to care for a little human being who cries whenever it wants and whom you have to clean up after. It’s a big, big disturbance. It could be seen as something unpleasant, and yet most parents get pleasure from it.”

While the smell is hard to replicate, scientists do know the smell wears off after six weeks.

And then, babies start to smile:)


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