Making sense of scent – the importance of smell in infancy

Posted in Development.

It’s been proven that the power of touch is an important tool for helping your infant settle and feel secure. However, research now reveals that scent is just as important for your baby’s development. So, stop and smell the roses. It could be doing wonders for your little one.

The sense of smell is the only one of our five senses that connects with the emotional centres of our brains. A batch of freshly baked biscuits can transport you back to your childhood.  The smell of cinnamon can return you to Christmas morning. A whiff of fresh air can take you to the beach in an instant.

According to Johnson’s Baby, memories evoked by smell are more emotional than those evoked by other senses. And this sense starts to develop even before baby is born.

Smell is the most advanced sense that babies have at birth. Studies have confirmed that a sense of smell starts to develop in utero at around 28 weeks of pregnancy. A newborn is drawn to the smell of breast milk and by two weeks, a baby can tell the difference between the scent of their own mum’s milk compared to another woman’s milk.

For the first two months, your baby prefers your scent to anyone else’s, regardless of whether you smell like perfume or after-gym sweat. It really is a case of ‘mother nose best’. But you can help improve this amazing sense by offering plenty of chances to stop and smell the roses, even during the first few months.

Stimulating a baby’s sense of smell with familiar and enjoyable scents is an important part of happy, healthy baby development. Enjoyable familiar scents improve mood and alertness.

“We know from existing research that multi-sensorial stimulation is absolutely key to baby’s brain development. Sharing beautiful experiences will not only create special moments between parent and child, but stimulate their baby’s brain as well,” says physician, Dr Ginni Mansberg.

Johnson’s Baby reports that babies bathed with a fragranced product displayed 30 per cent more engagement and spent 25 per cent less time crying before sleep.

Give your baby plenty of chances to explore the scents of the world. Take outings to the park, the beach, the community garden. And give your infant plenty of time to familiarise your unique smell with lots of cuddles and close moments.

Amazing as it sound, these simple smells will remain with your baby and hopefully trigger happy memories for years to come.

(via Johnson’s Baby)




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