As parents we already know the benefits that touch can have when comforting a baby. But now there's evidence that smell also helps to calm young infants too.
According to new research, commissioned by baby skincare maker Johnson’s, fragrances can help increase engagement between parents and children. What's more, the right smell at the right time can also reduce the time a baby cries and help children to fall asleep quicker.
What did the research show?
Scientists tested 58 infant babies and found that when they bathed with a fragranced product they displayed 30% more engagement with their parents after baths - think eye contact, babbling and interacting with their mums and dads.
According to the research the babies also spent nearly 25 % less time crying than babies who bathed in unfragranced baths also infants who followed a bedtime routine, which included a warm bath with a fragranced bath product, took 37% less time to fall asleep.
Hmm but doesn't Johnson's make bath time products?
Yep. Johnson's has been making baby products for over 120 years and of course they want us to buy their products, and yes this is all part of a marketing campaign called So Much More.
But already we know that babies are sensitive to smell and anything that helps create a calm baby is a winner in our book!
The science bit
Smell is the only sense with direct neurological links to the memory (olfactory cortex) and emotion centre of the brain (the limbic system).
All other sensory information is relayed through the mid brain and therefore is interpreted before a response is produced.
But as our smell centre is located near the emotion and memory centres smells trigger more emotionally vibrant memories than other senses.
And enjoyable and familiar scents have been shown to improve mood and alertness of babies.
Dr Carol Bedwell, Lecturer in Midwifery at University of Manchester, said: “Although parents in the UK really enjoy the quality time they get to spend with their child during bath time, this survey shows how little they understand the amazing wide impact it can have on their child’s long term development.
“It’s important for parents to recognise that opportunities to engage touch, sight, smell, and sound, like bath time, are crucial in helping shape their baby’s brain,” Dr Carol Bedwell said.