Simple Activities To Help Babies Explore Their Sense of Smell

Introduce your little one to the world of smells and let them explore their senses!

Babies are born explorers. They start using their senses when they are in the mother’s womb. They know their mother’s scent and new-borns have a heightened sense of smell.

This week you can indulge them in an aroma quest. Introduce your baby to their senses with these cool ideas. Try some scented and unscented items and explore what they like and what disinterests them.

Our sense of smell relies heavily on brain interpretation of the scent. Everyone interprets smells differently, and a smell I find pleasant, such as coffee, may be repulsive to my children.

Be careful not to get the items too close to your babies nose to prevent them from inhaling the items through their nostrils.  It is important to understand that everyone perceives smell differently, so if I like the smell of lavender, someone else may find it uncomfortable. Hence it is important not to push your choice of scent on your child. Let them decide how they feel about the scent.

Here Is What You Will Need:

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3-5 items with a rich scent that your child will know or relate to

For Eg: mint, coffee beans, popcorn, flower, orange peel, candle, essential oil or anything that you fancied when you were pregnant. I used to love citrus smell and food, lavender and herbs like thyme and basil. Avoid strong smells like fabric softener, perfumes and shampoos or any other known allergens)

3-5 items with a mild scent. For Eg: water, paper, clean nappy, book, clothing


  1. You can choose to blindfold your child or ask them to close their eyes (skip this step for babies)
  2. Place the first item under your child’s nose and let them inhale and smell the item. 
  3. Explore their likes and dislikes. For eg: Show babies what they smelt.  Tell them the name of it, and describe the item. Like if you smell a lemon, it is citrus and fruity.
  4. Explore other items and describe the smell (strong, sweet floral sweet, fruity, floral, spicy, clean etc.) 
  5. For toddlers: Ask them to tell you what they think they are smelling? Then discuss the item with them as in the above steps.

To make it safer for babies you can choose to use clean salt and pepper bottles and fill them with the scented things and let them explore on their own. Giving your baby to hold the object they are smelling in a safe way will give you a sense of security and a sense of empowerment to the baby. It’s a win-win situation.

They will not only learn about the various scents, but they will discover that they need their noses to identify some items (like coffee, orange peel and roses), and for others items (like water and paper) they need to use their other senses (such as sight and touch) to help identify the item. You will also learn what items your child enjoyed smelling and what scents they were uncomfortable with.

Did you know familiar smells, especially those of mom or dad, can be very comforting for your baby? Being in a favourite place with familiar smells can help calm baby down. That is the very reason babies find comfort in mother or fathers arm or a much-loved toy or blanket. They carry a scent that can be reassuring for your baby.

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