Researchers have found that tiny glands on the breast produce a fluid with a smell that attracts hungry babies.
In the study, newborns were found to feed more and put on weight more quickly when feeding from mums who had lots of areolar glands, which are visible to the naked eye as small bumps around the nipple.
The scent could be used to teach premature babies how to breastfeed, said researchers from the National Centre for Scientific Research in Dijon who carried out the study.
“It could help prepare the babies for the transition from tube-feeding to direct sucking on the nipple of a mother or bottle,” said researcher Benoist Schaal.
The effect was especially noticeable in first-time mums, whose babies also fed more frequently. Researchers said that these babies may be more reliant on nature’s help to breastfeed simply because their mums are less experienced.