Our sense of smell is deeply instilled in us as humans, perhaps because we begin to develop our olfactory abilities while still in the womb. Science has proven that a developing infant can detect the aroma of the amniotic fluid which surrounds it. In human fetal development, the nose and mouth structures separate at about 9 weeks. By 13 weeks, the olfactory receptors are in place. Contrary to what you may think, breathing/air is not needed to detect scent.

Because newborns’ eyes are shut, and because focusing the eyes takes some practice once they do open, a sense of smell is essential for bonding between mother and baby. Experiments prove conclusively that infants can identify their mothers purely on the basis of their smell– even when the mother is in another room.

These powerful early-life experiencesĀ link our sense of smell with strong memories and emotions.