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Do Babies Have Magic Heads?
(Yes, They Do)
Have you ever smelled a baby’s head? It’s sweet, calming, and strangely therapeutic. People came up to Genny when she was newborn, coming close to her head for a deep breath. The explanation I was given for this extremely odd behavior was, “Well, babies have magic heads.”
Okay, is this just a strange practice, or is there something to this theory?
The truth is that yes, babies have magic heads!
Alright, maybe not “magic” per se, but studies have shown an association between the smell of a newborn baby and increased maternal instincts. What is it that causes this “supernatural” effect? The answer is a little hormone called oxytocin.
This chemical has the incredible potential to develop the bond between mama and baby from the first moments after birth. Known as the bonding hormone, oxytocin is vital for growing a relationship of “trust, empathy, face memory, and generosity” (2017 Komisar, Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters). A study also found that oxytocin in infants might defend against birth trauma by reducing the amount of oxygen cells require to produce energy.
So much is going on that you can’t see between mama and baby after birth! In those first moments together, the smell of your newborn baby’s head is actually triggering oxytocin release. Additionally, every quality interaction thereafter between baby and mama increases this trust–building hormone. Some stay-at-home dads even take prescribed oxytocin to increase their nurturing interactions with their childrens because women tend to produce the hormone more than men. (2017 Komisar).
Can the hat block this hormone release?
This is one of those things that only a pregnant mama or a seasoned mama would know. Kind of like delaying your baby’s first bath, questioning the hat on your newborn’s head might be new to you. While studies are inconclusive on this particular answer, babies do not need hats to keep warm, as some may think. Skin-to-skin benefits after birth far exceed any benefit a hat could offer. In the end, the less disruption between natural mama/baby bonding post–birth the better.
So best to leave that cute hat off until a little later. Once you get that baby in your arms, take all the time in the world to cuddle, nurse, and breathe in the scent of that tiny human. It’s proven to make a difference!
What quality of interaction were you and your newborn able to experience? Comment below to share your story.
Love, Emily XOXO