A mom playing with her baby laying down on a blanket

Bring Back That New Baby Smell

Mmm, baby. Ever see a new parent lean over their newborn’s head and take a big sniff? “New baby smell” is a well-known phenomenon, but what causes it? How long does it last? And (most importantly) can it be brought back?

Why Do Babies Smell Good?

You might be thinking that “new baby smell” is some kind of legend or delusion, but it’s actually a scientifically documented phenomenon! At least one study has shown that when women get a whiff of newborn smell, the parts of their brains that light up are the same pathways associated with smelling delicious food! The scent triggers a release of dopamine, a major part of the brain’s reward system. What’s more, the effect was stronger among women who have had children!

What makes the baby smell so good?

While we know the effects of new baby smell, no one really knows the specific cause. Is it the newborn’s body odor? The lingering smell of amniotic fluid or vernix caseosa (a waxy substance that coats the baby at birth)? The source hasn’t been isolated. But while no one really knows exactly what causes new baby smell, there are plenty of theories on why we react so strongly to it. Most believe it has an evolutionary purpose—to bond parent and child and possibly for the rush of dopamine to help them power through new-parent stress and exhaustion. Scent is a powerful and primal sense, after all, and parenthood is a powerful and primal instinct so it makes sense that the two might align in some way. In fact, studies have repeatedly shown that new mothers are able to recognize their babies by smell alone! What’s more, babies have indications of being able to identify their mothers by smell, too!

Why do we sniff babies’ heads?

If you’re going to smell a baby, the part you’re most likely going to smell is the head. However, new baby smell is an all-over thing. One study on the effects of baby scent used baby pajamas as a scent source. The head is just a convenient location to sniff but nothing more.

Why Do Babies Lose Their Baby Smell?

Because no one knows exactly what causes newborn smell, no one is entirely sure why it goes away, either. It seems to disappear after just a few weeks.

Woman with a baby on her legs holding him with her hands

How to Bring Back That New Baby Smell

We can’t promise to revive the exact scent of your specific newborn (like the studies indicate, that special combination seems to be unique to each parent and child), but Dreft detergent, in addition to being the #1 pediatrician recommended baby detergent brand, has a scent parents adore! Washing your baby’s clothes in specially formulated Dreft will give them an all-over baby fresh scent.

Even after your child graduates from onesies and swaddle blankets to overalls and light-up sneakers, you can keep that baby smell with Dreft Blissfuls In-Wash Scent Booster. Add Dreft Blissfuls to any load of laundry and leave clothing with long-lasting freshness.

As we said, smell is a powerful sense, and one of its greatest powers is the ability to evoke memories. Dreft Blissfuls will bring back a baby fresh scent anytime you want.

Now that you know all about new baby smell, go out and enjoy it while it lasts—and know that Dreft is here for all your great-smelling baby needs.

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