What Do Newborns Smell Like?

The smell of a newborn gives every mother a feeling of incomparable pleasure. Research suggests that it's due to the mixture of substances called vernix caseosa and remains of amniotic fluid.
What Do Newborns Smell Like?

Last update: 05 January, 2019

Multiple studies have researched what newborns smell like and its effect on mothers. We’ll tell you what it is and why it’s an addiction to have your baby so close.

One of the characteristics of newborns is the incomparable smell they give off. That fragrance remains constantly in mothers’ brains. As the years go by, they remember it as if it were yesterday.

The way newborns smell: sweet and intoxicating for mothers

Most people who have held a baby in their arms have been able to see how pleasant the smell is. Studies suggest that this pleasant feeling is due to nature.

For survival reasons, it appears to create a bond between mother and child. In other words, in the smell, there are substances that attract parents to breastfeed and have contact with their child.

For mothers, their baby’s smell generates a reaction in the brain like dopamine or pleasure hormones. Hence, the closeness with their baby is an addiction and causes delight.

As we mentioned, this is one of the natural ways to guarantee a bond between mother and child. Combined with other modifications in the mother’s brain, the smell stimulates breastfeeding. As a consequence, it ensures the baby’ survival.

Why do babies have that characteristic smell?

Several specialists have talked about the way newborns smell and compare it with other aromas. Some compare it to cookies in milk. It’s a sweet aroma that awakens all kinds of sensations.

On the other hand, others associate it with caramel or vanilla. It’s introduced to the brain and stays there forever. However, science notes that this pleasant scent is due to the following factors:

Vernix caseosa

The vernix caseosa is a whitish substance that covers the skin of the baby at birth. Its greasy appearance provides hydration to the skin since it begins to form. In fact, it starts forming around week 20 of pregnancy.

What Do Newborns Smell Like?

The sebaceous layer, according to researchers, helps regulate temperature. It’s also a substance that’s rich in vitamin E. Additionally, it helps protect babies during the first weeks of birth.

According to the functions it fulfills in the skin, we recommend not eliminating it completely at bath time. This way, the skin can absorb nutrients in the best way.

Vernix caseosa is basically made up of proteins, water and fats. They all help preserve the amazing scent of babies. The smell is most intense on their head during the first few months.

“In the smell, there are substances that attract parents to breastfeed and have contact with their child.”

Amniotic fluid

The amniotic fluid also plays an important role in babies’ smell at birth. The colorless and odorless substance is made up of carbohydrates, proteins and nutrients. In addition, they keep babies safe while in the womb.

By combining the vernix caseosa with the surplus of amniotic fluid, it creates an indescribable smell. The smell helps the baby bond with the mother.

Inactivity of sweat glands

Another factor is that babies can’t regulate their own body temperature yet. Therefore, they hardly sweat.

What Do Newborns Smell Like?

When sweat dries, it can lead to bacteria that causes a bad smell. If the baby’s skin is clean, it won’t give off a bad smell.

As the months go by, babies may sweat when making a physical effort such as crying intensely. However, if your baby sweats too much when eating, even if he isn’t wearing clothes, consult your doctor immediately.

In summary, the way newborns smell at birth is a combination of amniotic fluid and vernix caseosa. They stay on the skin and help take care of it. The purpose is to help the baby and mother bond, guaranteeing survival. Without a doubt, it’s one of the amazing gifts of nature.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.