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The Smell Of A Newborn's Head Helps Mom & Baby Bond

newborn head with mama

The odors produced by a newborn baby's head play a role in mother-baby bonding and kin-recognition. To discover this, scientists identified the exact chemical make up of the smell of a newborn's head.

Mother-baby bonding is a hot topic for good reason. We now know that building a secure attachment early on makes a lasting difference in our children's futures.

New mothers are encouraged to place a brand new baby skin to skin immediately after the birth. Breastfeeding is recommended for a variety of health reasons, including emotional benefits. Even mothers who bottle-feed are taught a specific way to hold their babies that keeps them cuddled close throughout.

The pitfalls of infant neglect and attachment disorders are great. Problems with early attachment affect a person's relationships and mental health over the course of a lifetime. All of us want our babies to have the best start. Who knew that the smell of their head would play a role?

READ MORE: The Way You Smell After Birth May Influence How Your Partner Bonds With Baby

A team of professors and researchers from Hamamatsu University of Medicine, Iwate University, Tsukuba University and Kobe University developed a non-invasive and stress-free method of sampling odors directory from babies' heads. Their research suggests that newborns heads' give off olfactory information that plays a role in mother-baby bonding.

Mother holding newborn baby boy on her knees, closeup
Credit: iStock

The results indicate that mothers can identify their own child's head smell. Kin-recognition is an important factor in proper bonding, and it is influenced by a variety of sensory input.

It turns out that head odor is more distinct than the smell of amniotic fluid, which was once thought to be a major source of olfactory input for kin-recognition.

Previous studies have not looked into the chemical makeup of the odors produced by newborn baby's heads. This may be due in part to the fact that until now there was no non-invasive method of collecting this data.

The research team hopes that further studies will work towards preventing issues such as infant neglect and attachment disorders.

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