When looking for products to care for your baby’s sensitive skin, you might be surprised to find perfume or fragrance on the label. But there is some evidence to support that fragrance in baby products may be a good thing. Here are some reasons to incorporate scent into your baby’s bath time rituals.
Babies use their sense of sight, smell, touch, hearing, and taste to understand the world around them. And when we help to stimulate these senses, we’re aiding in their emotional, cognitive, and physical development.
Research suggests that sensory stimulation can be as simple as implementing things like rattles, mobiles, lullabies, peek-a-boo games and toys into your daily routine. Incorporating multiple senses into an activity, like bathing your baby with a fragranced product, can create multi-sensory experiences, which can improve motor skills. Just be cautious when introducing too many senses at once, as developing infants can become overwhelmed.
Stimulating your baby’s sense of smell can be particularly rewarding, as “odour memory” is an important part of olfactory cognition—which is the ability to identify and remember a scent that has been smelled before. Studies show that this type of odour memory is similar to recognizing other sensory cues, like identifying familiar sounds, and is therefore a “critical factor in human health.”
Our sense of smell is closely tied to our emotions and memories. This is because it’s the only sense that doesn’t first have to be processed by the thalamus before being recognized. Fragrances go straight to our conscious brains , which then connects to our limbic systems, which controls our feelings and memories. This is why the smell of your mum’s perfume or homemade cookies can transport you right back to your childhood home.
Olfactory bonding is extremely powerful, as babies develop their sense of smell before they’re even born. In fact, a recent experiment introduced infants to the scent of chamomile while they were nursing, and just days later, the babies’ attraction to chamomile “was as strong as their attraction to the scent of breast milk.”
By choosing baby products with a fragrance you love, you can enhance the olfactory memories you’re creating with your little one.
Lavender, chamomile, vanilla and rose fragrances have been found to help promote sleep for babies three months of age and older. By choosing a gentle baby bath product with one of these fragrances, you can not only develop an effective bedtime routine, but you can also benefit from multisensory bonding.
Chamomile in particular (found in our baby shampoo) has been touted for its calming effects, and has been shown to promote sleep. By using a fragrance in a soothing, warm bath, while also holding your baby and making them feel safe, you can create an odour memory that will stay with your child and help with development.
It’s important to remember that not all fragrances are safe for babies. When looking for bath and skincare, make sure to choose a gentle formula with mild, natural scents like chamomile, and practice these methods when caring for a newborn’s skin.