Mothers' recognition of their newborns by olfactory cues

Dev Psychobiol. 1987 Nov;20(6):587-91. doi: 10.1002/dev.420200604.


We report that 90% of women tested in the present study identified their newborns by olfactory cues after only 10 min-1 hr exposure to their infants. All of the women tested recognized their babies' odor after exposure periods greater than 1 hr. The robust results are due in part to the implementation of an initial screening phase in which individuals with obvious olfactory deficits were excluded from the sample. These results suggest that odor cues from newborns are even more salient to their mothers than have been thought heretofore.

MeSH terms

  • Cues*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn*
  • Mothers*
  • Odorants*
  • Smell
  • Time Factors