The science of "new baby smell"




What I have taken from this article is that babies may contain cocaine. I need to borrow an infant to run a salt-base-salt reaction on, stat...


Make sure you are sniffing a new baby. Old babies smell distinctly mildewy.


However, do they contain more, or less tropane alkaloids?


To me, new babies smell strongly of their essential odor - their MHC (major histo-compatibility complex), and they will smell of that again when they go into puberty. Really. Take a big whiff of their head, their scalp is over-producing grease because they were exposed to high levels of hormones in pregnancy, which is why some will have a linea nigra at birth, witches milk or even shed their uterine lining, so they smell of their bodies reaction to hormones. With each of my children they smelled more or less like my husband or I, whatever attracts to me olfactory-wise they have some of and I can smell some of myself too. My niece however smelled like my sister and did not have that new baby smell to me, just someone else's baby, I still love her though even if she smells wrong.

So what you are really smelling is something of yourself, like if you have a favorite hat that smells good to you.


After significant prompting, I smelled a new baby recently. It smelled kind of sickening, I really didn't like it much. This sort of syrupy, thick, cantaloupe-y smell. I don't get what all the fuss is about.


Are you sure it was a new baby, not an old, defunct baby? Or maybe a cantaloupe? They are similar in size and heft.


Babies are jerks.


How new was the baby? Being covered in blood and and mucus does give them a not-so-fresh bouquet.


I understand that many, possibly most, men cannot smell new baby smell. I am told I am missing out.


I never, ever could smell 'baby smell' on other people's babies. I only discovered it when I had my daughter and it is very intense, as if her whole head is one of those air fresheners that spray every few minutes. It's lovely; a hard-to-define mix of the scent right before it rains, vanilla and something a bit like ripe strawberries. It's not just true for new babies though. She's 3 and I still smell it, though it waxes and wanes more now.


Ah, and it will get weirder yet, mags. Some day, you will be a grandmother - or even just the parent of a long-since adult child, and will still wake straight up from the deepest sleep when some stranger's baby cries.

You can see a picture of one of your own descendants you have never yet met - and you will know exactly what that child smells like. EXACTLY.

They can say what they will about your children sleeping with you, but you will never roll over on them and crush them - again, even in the deepest sleep. You likewise can be trusted never to roll over on anyone else's child and crush them - even though reason may state they should be rolled on immediately to save the world from one more second of their intolerable whining.

I note that those rare women who commit infanticide are never, ever given the death penalty as a male might be. We understand instinctively that they are somehow jacked up on a level they could not possibly choose and we could not hope to fix. Instead, they are simultaneously reviled and pitied.

So - more primal human stuff some psych can do weird experiments with sometime.
But I'm with Gilbert - I just wanna huff some bay-bay!


It is also a fact that women's pupils dilate upon seeing a child.


All good except that people do (very rarely) roll over and smother their children. Nothing it is 100%.


So rarely, it's not even statistically significant. Like cats smothering babies. It probably happened somewhere, some time - but our moms were scared way beyond what probability justified.

Actually, I'd like to see a good case study or two on baby rollovers - I...suspect something else was wrong there. Maybe, like when women were imprisoned over SIDS. Or, mentally ill women who couldn't bond normally with the babystank. You know - old school witch hunt material. Just a suspicion...


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