As I was waiting for a meeting yesterday I made small talk with two of the ladies from the firm I was visiting, the topic of babies came up……
“I just love that new baby smell” one of the ladies said
Me: Sorry, what?
Lady: New baby smell
Me: New baby smell? Is that actually a thing?
Lady: Yes it’s real.
I have to say perusing Halfords for air fresheners; I can’t say I have noticed it next to the Vanillaroma, or New Car Little Trees (previously Magic Trees).
So, it got me wondering, what is this new baby smell? Is it real or is it some sick joke to play on expectant unprepared dads and it just means the smell of full nappies?
On a seriousness note I don’t think I have ever been around a new baby and thought “mmm that smells nice”. To get to the bottom of this mystery I started by asking my trusted companion………..Google.
A study in 2013 published by Frontiers in Psychology a medical journal found the new baby smell is real and affects the brain regions in women.
As part of this study 30 women all of a similar ages were selected, half who had given birth in the last 6 weeks and the other half who had never given birth. The women smelt PJ’s that had been worn from babies totally unrelated to them (sounds creepy I know), during the smelling the women were also undergoing brain scans. The result was that every single one of them showed signs of activity in the reward-related cerebral areas of the brain, the women who had recently given birth showed greater activity.
The study concluded that new born baby scent works as a kind of pleasure incentive to new mothers to take care of their baby’s.
So what causes this smell?
Researchers say that this new baby smell only lasts for about 6 weeks and still nobody knows what causes it. Apparently it is so hard to study due to the short time constraints involved, researchers do believe that the aroma could be caused by the left over white yellowy fluid that covers baby at birth (also known as amniotic fluid or vernix caseosa).
There have been no known studies carried out on dads (that I have managed to find), I for one am keen to take part in such a study, however I think I may have left it a little too late to get my NCT crew together to form a research group.
So, it appears then that this new baby smell is real, but will I be able to smell it? One thing is for sure, I will be watching my wife very closely in the first six weeks curious to find out what this scent is.