Smells and how they affect you and your baby!

Just as each of us has a unique personality, so too do we each have a unique sensory temperament. Some of us are extroverts and love being around others; confident and daring, while others of us are quieter and more cautious, observing the world before actively getting involved! On a sensory level, some babies, children and even adults love their sensory world to be brighter, louder, faster and love smelling different fragrances. Babies can be sensitive though, preferring blander, quieter and slower exposure to their new world. It’s important as moms to be mindful of our own sensory temperament as well as of our little’s one’s sensory preferences. This can go a long way in keeping our baby calm and alert so that he can learn about his new world without becoming overwhelmed.


We each have a unique threshold for smells. Just as some of us can tolerate a lot of pain while others cannot, so to some people register very subtle smells while others only register strong smells. Can you smell the rice burning in the pot before the pot is destroyed? Do you avoid the pet food isle in the supermarket? Then maybe you are quite sensitive! If you don’t then you could have a high threshold for these smells and then you will need to be more mindful of overexposing your baby to strong smells. Babies have a sensitive smell system, which is why we need to be careful of and very aware of what smells are in the environment; especially if we know that our own smell system is not very sensitive.


Be aware specifically of smells that stay with your Creeper e.g. perfume, baby lotion, laundry detergent. If your baby is fussing a lot or struggling to sleep, you may want to consider these strong smells as a possible cause for this fussy behaviour? Sometimes just changing one’s own perfume can lead to a calmer and more peaceful baby!


Some places have a variety of strong smells e.g. shopping centres, restaurants, the beach etc. A sensory smart mom can help her baby deal with all these smells so as to prevent him from going into sensory overload. You may consider sitting far away from the kitchen of a restaurant, not wearing perfumes when your baby is little, using a baby-friendly laundry detergent etc.


If you want to stimulate your baby’s sense of smell to help him overcome his sensitives in a fun, non-threatening way try this activity from our GAP groups:


  • Smelly skunk – Try dipping ear buds or cotton wool into various scents like lavender, vanilla, orange, etc. and hold the scented ear bud or cotton wool near to your baby’s face. Note that your baby’s sense of smell is better than yours so try not to hold strong smells too close to him.



Try these variations of the game:

  • Using other smells and scents (look in your kitchen spice rack!)
  • Using baby lotion, daddy’s shaving foam etc.


These and many more Oral motor, taste and smell activities can be found in the Groovy Adventurers book or in our GAP groups.Callout book


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