If you're in the majority, then you've likely spent at least ten seconds of your life leaning down and getting a good, long whiff of a baby's head. It's such a phenomenon, that there are literally candles and other scents out there especially formulated to smell just like that perfect newborn baby odor we all adore. And while some may right this off as being more mental than physical, babies' heads actually do smell good, and there's literally scientific proof of it.
Speaking to New York Magazine, Johannes Frasnelli, an anatomy professor at the University of Quebec, explained the addictive scent of newborn babies. "There must be mechanisms which allow for a very strong bond between parents, especially mothers, and the baby," he said. "We think that the odor of babies is involved in one of these mechanisms. In fact, many people, mainly parents, will say that the baby odor is one of the most pleasant/best odors they have ever smelled."
So, relax everyone. There is absolutely nothing weird about wanting to sit down and sniff a baby's head for hours upon hours. If anything, it's more natural than not doing so. Rejoice, head-sniffers, your obsession has officially been validated by science.
In a study from 2013 that Frasnelli worked on, researchers found that the smell of newborn babies was truly a source of joy for women. After dividing women into two categories: those who had given birth before and those who hadn't, Frasnelli and his team discovered that "the brains of women from both categories reacted to the baby smell as if it were a delicious treat, or even a drug."
In fact, the study also suggested that the smell of newborn babies was part of an evolutionary way for maternal instincts to kick in. Researchers concluded that "a 2 day-old newborn infant's body odor may convey cues that can motivate affect in parent or non-parent females to care for unrelated and unfamiliar infant alike."
Obviously, scent is an important sense, and a main factor in maternal bonding. But science also shows that it's totally natural to love the smell of a baby's head, whether or not it's actually your own child.
Psychologist and author Diane Sanford told The Today Show that the positive reception in women's brains to the scent of a baby actually makes a lot more sense than many might think.
For those first few months babies are mostly just needing to be cared for and we don’t get much positive feedback from them. So the fact that the pleasure centers are activated makes it more rewarding at a time when parenthood is very intensive and depleting. Our little receptors are lighting up and we have good feelings to offset all the hard work and exhaustion.
So, to summarize: continue sniffing those baby heads, y'all. It's science.