Toddlers Prefer the Sweet Smell of Familiar

by Ann Douglas

toddler holding old teddbearA toddler's nose knows whether a much-loved blanket has suffered the indignity of being tossed in the washer and the dryer between nap time and bedtime. It loses that familiar blankie smell and takes on that yucky scent of clean.

Toddlers are creatures of habit, particularly when it comes to something as biologically hardwired as scent. If they're struggling with separation anxiety or otherwise having a difficult time adjusting to a new routine, they might find it comforting to cuddle up with a sweater or a t-shirt that smells like mom: a scent they've been association with comfort and security since their earliest days.

Here's powerful proof of the impact of scent on the lives of very young children. Nathalie Goubet and her colleagues in the Department of Psychology at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, have researched the effects of scent on infants. The studies have indicated that a familiar scent can be so soothing to a young baby that it can actually help to minimize the amount of pain experienced during a heel pinprick test (a standard newborn test). So forget about looking for a laundry scent that is guaranteed to block out the scent of mom. Nothing beats that mom-fresh scent to a baby.

Does your child find comfort in a familiar smell? Share the tale in the comments!

Ann Douglas is the author of numerous books about pregnancy and parenting including the bestselling "The Mother of All Pregnancy Books." She regularly contributes to a number of print and online publications, is frequently quoted in the media on a range of parenting-related topics, and has appeared as a guest on a number of television and radio shows. Ann and her husband Neil live in Peterborough, Ontario. with the youngest of their four children. Learn more at her site,

Copyright © Ann Douglas. Permission to publish granted to Image credit: Beatrice Killam.