There are many reasons we find babies so irresistible, from their cherubic cheeks to their infectious laughs. But nothing quite compares to that irresistible smell of a newborn, and researchers have finally found out why.
According to a new study published in Trends in Cognitive Sciences, a baby’s olfactory appeal comes down to evolution. Researchers from Oxford University determined that all aspects of babies’ cuteness, including their smell, developed so that others would be compelled to look after them.
“Infants attract us through all our senses, which helps make cuteness one of the most basic and powerful forces shaping our behavior,” said professor Morten Kringelback, who led the review in conjunction with Oxford’s Department of Psychiatry.
Kringelback and his colleagues reviewed literature about how cuteness affects the brain in order to come to their conclusions. “This is the first evidence of its kind to show that cuteness helps infants to survive by eliciting caregiving, which cannot be reduced to simple, instinctual behaviors,” he added.
The researchers determined that caregiving ignites “fundamental brain pleasure systems” in humans, similar to the ones that are engaged when we listen to music or eat delicious food, and that both men and women are affected equally, whether they have children or not.
“This might be a fundamental response present in everyone, regardless of parental status or gender,” Kringelbach added. “We are currently conducting the first long-term study of what happens to brain responses when we become parents.”
Rest you newborn in this Stokke Home Crib, and let us know what you love most about babies.