That’s why we have created a simple easy-to-print guide you can share with parents that answers some of their basic questions and misconceptions.
Olfactory Stimulation in Newborns
Smell plays a crucial role in the development of neonates. While the development of smell in infants hasn't been researched as extensively as other senses, infants have long been known to respond to olfactory stimulation. This could be through the preference of sweet scents or the acute avoidance of foul doors.
Infants have been known to be able to recognise their mother's scent and respond accordingly. When presented with their mother's scent while distressed, infants have been known to cry less and increase social attention to faces, specifically towards eyes. Conversely, while infants have been known to be able to identify their mother's scent, mothers are also able to identify their infant's scent. This underlines the importance of olfactory stimulation in the relationship between infants and their mothers.
There is indeed supporting evidence of a strong correlation between olfactory stimulation and emotional processing in humans. During three controlled studies, the scents (pine, baby powder, lavender etc.) were shown to reduce emotional stress and stimulate mood regulation in infants. In addition, when presented with a specific scent (e.g. vanilla) that they were familiarized with during minor painful procedures (e.g. a heel prick), infants cried relatively less compared to when they were presented with an unfamiliar odor or no odor at all (also during a minor painful procedure).
With the right fragrances and the right applications, scent can be a powerful tool in stimulating infant development and in strengthening maternal relationships with their infants.