What Causes New Baby Smell?

It’s nearly impossible to describe the scent of a newborn baby, especially since each baby seems to have his or her own. However, if you’ve ever gotten up to close and personal with a newborn, you likely inhaled the most amazingly clean smell. In most cases, you won’t even be able to identify exactly what it is. Then one day, it’s just gone, often without you ever realizing it’s been fading all along. So what exactly is “new baby smell?” No one is exactly sure, but a 2012 study did find evidence of “old people smell” — a recognizable body odor that can’t be fully explained by grooming, diet, or other environmental quirks. So it’s also possible that babies might have a scent that’s unique to their age group as well. It's been suggested that new baby smell is really a combination of amniotic fluid, bacteria, breast milk, and other ingredients that you would generally not look for in a sweet-smelling fragrance. So, the next time you open a box of old baby clothes and get a whiff of the familiar detergent, soap, powder, and fabric, don’t be surprised if you’re transported right back to those newborn days.