I Held a Baby and I Inhaled

When Crappy Baby was an actual baby, Crappy Boy went to this awesome co-op parent run preschool in the mountains. Crappy Baby was the youngest baby in our group of families.

All the other moms oohed and aahed over him in the way that moms of three, four and five-years-olds do over freshly pressed babies if they are done making them.

Since I was often busy with Crappy Boy, Crappy Baby got held by other moms a lot. One time in our hallway (it was a preschool meeting at our house) four moms stood in a circle passing him back and forth.

When I walked up, this is what I they were doing:


They were taking turns smelling his head.


A deeply focused smelling, with eyes closed and everything.

Actually, they were taking turns inhaling his head.

And they were getting high off it.


My baby was being passed around like a joint.

They got so into it they even discussed the nuances of what they were smelling.


And they kept on doing it until they were all in fits of giggles.


At the time, I thought they were pretty weird. Funny, but weird. I mean, I smell my own babies’ heads, but not other people’s. That’s just desperate or something.

Fast forward to the present…

So I’m at a fundraiser thing and I’m chatting with a woman who is holding a tiny, smiling baby. She has to pee or eat or tend to her older child or something (I blanked out on everything but the baby at this point) and she hands me her baby. A complete stranger just tosses me a free baby!

I hold it awkwardly for a couple seconds until it settles into my arms all smooshy-like. Oh yeah, that’s the stuff.

Then without being conscious of it at all, I bend my head down:


And I inhale. Deeply.

I kept looking up all paranoid hoping nobody was noticing. I tried to be all nonchalant about it. Oh no, I’m not taking hits off this baby’s head, I’m merely bending down and breathing near him. Carry on.

When I had to give the baby back, I was overcome by a nice, warm fuzzy feeling. Calm and content. Perhaps a bit giddy even.

That was some good shit.



PS – Drugs are bad, m’kay? Except other people’s drugs that you steal when nobody is looking. Those don’t count.

PPS – Endorphins are actually released in many adults when they hold a baby. So I’m serious about this getting high off babies thing. Try it! You’ll like it!

PPS – Warning, enjoying other people’s babies for recreational purposes may result in a desire to create another baby for your own use. They’re addictive.  

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141 Responses to I Held a Baby and I Inhaled

  1. Kelsey says:

    One of my good friends is older than I am, with older kids. She freely admits that she loves to smell babies’ heads. I’m always glad to pass mine over whenever she needs a hit. 😉

  2. If I wasn’t so done having babies, I would be having another baby…

  3. I have one toddler and I hope to give him a sibling one day. I can’t WAIT for that new baby smell!!!

  4. Mrs C says:

    i have a 4 year old, with a new one due to arrive in a few weeks. i can not wait for all of the inhaling. that sure is the best drug on earth 🙂

  5. Kim says:

    Funniest thing ever because it is so true! It’s the world’s best drug!! Lol

  6. Sarah says:

    Lol!! As usual your footnotes at the bottom are the funniest part!! I too am a sniffer now that we’re done and my youngest is seven.

  7. Nicole says:

    Cuddling and sniffing my own 3-week-old baby’s head as I read.

  8. Kat says:

    There’s a line in a U2 song that goes, “Freedom has the scent like the top of a newborn baby’s head.” I used to think it was a cheesy line, but then I had a baby. I get it.

  9. Mrs. Sexy says:

    Yeah…I feel you on this one…. lol You capture it well.

  10. Lyz says:

    LOL! I never noticed myself doing this until I read about it just now! But I do! Now there is a reason for my weirdness… well, for part of it anyway.

    For a fleeting moment after doing so, I will get the “What if I had another one?” feeling. However, reality kicks in and I remember the sickness, the exhaustion, the not sleeping, and remembering that I will be testing for black belt in a year.

    If we get surprised, of course I’ll have another. Still not in the plans though, that’s for sure!

  11. Kylee says:

    Oooh, I totally love the smell of a newborn’s head. My own, and other moms’.

    If they could bottle that… it’d be a best seller.

  12. Sniffing babies in much better for your health! 🙂

    So… did you get addicted?

  13. Tracy says:

    I have a 5 week old and love sniffing her head, but I swear there is some kind of extra special crack added to NEW Newborn heads. My hubby finally told me I couldn’t keep putting off her first bath just because I liked sniffing her head (sure I can!). BTW She was wiped down regularly, but no full on bath until she was a little over 2 weeks, maybe closer to 3, because OMB! NEW baby smell. Almost made me consider getting pregnant again.

    • Cynthia812 says:

      My babies were quite old before they got their first baths.

    • Helen says:

      I totally cried when my boy had his first bath at a week old, hubby was like “what’s so wrong?” And I just wailed “he doesn’t have his super delicious smell anymore!”.
      I’m definitely going to put off my next baby’s first bath for longer.

      oh and I am totally a sniffer of friends babies etc even though my boy’s only 1 and a half and we’re not done having kids yet!

  14. SLTA says:

    HAHAHA I just did this for the first time the other day… and made my husband smell, too. The mom thought we were crazy but I don’t care. (I think the smell gets more poignant when you know you’re done with babies of your own.)

  15. Karen says:

    Great, now you’re pregnant.

    That’s how these things work.

  16. Taryn says:

    We’re done having babies too and yep, I’m right there with ya on that baby smell thing! Smell is such a powerful emotion targeter, isn’t it?

  17. Kim B says:

    LOL! My aunts and my older cousins absolutely passed my baby around like a joint last month when we visited! They all smelled her head! Never thought of it like this before but I’ll laugh every time I catch someone doing it now.

  18. Robin M says:

    I did this to a new baby just the other day, but… formula-fed babies just do not have the same effect!

    • Mary says:

      And unnecessary comments like that are precisely why so many formula feeding mothers feel attacked, and precisely why it is so much harder for passionate breastfeeding supporters to speak out without being tarred with the same brush.

    • Sarah says:

      Give me a break.

    • Liz says:

      Just… sigh.

      • sunny says:

        All babies smell yummy…but I will admit I too have a special affinity toward the smell of breastfed babies. I think this make sense as I associate that smell with such amazing feelings of warmth and love. If you formula fed…I bet you have a similar experience. But I still think all babies smell like love regardless of how they were fed or what soap they used.

        • Connie says:

          How do you know how the babies were fed unless you ask? You can’t tell by smelling their heads. They all smell like baby shampoo.

          • Annabel says:

            Shampoo? Give me the pure stuff with no added chemicals, thanks!

          • Kyonarai says:

            Well actually, breastfed babies smell like sour milk/yogurt, so you can tell unless they just had a bath. I’ve been around a lot of both, and have a very strong nose, so I can always tell. It’s not trying to be mean, it’s just the truth.

    • Ell B says:

      Wow…just..wow. Way to bring down a perfectly enjoyable conversation.

      • amandag says:

        Yeah well you can tell if it’s a breastfed baby bc the head will smell like a hint of armpit and maybe deodorant . 😉 Babies smell like babies! The spit up may smell more potent with different forms of feeding but we’re discussing the leaf of the plant, not the stems.

  19. Fran says:

    My kids are grown, I could use a hit right about now.

  20. Vicki says:

    I totally just did this with a friends brand new baby girl….I couldn’t wait to smell her.
    And my friend can’t smell, so it’s all wasted on her.

  21. Pamela says:

    It’s been shown babies give off pheromones from the top of their heads 🙂

  22. I think I must be the only mother in the world who has no idea what this smell is. Really. I never got it!

    • Kris says:

      I was never really into smelling my son’s head either. However….

      Now that I’m done (wanted more but it didn’t happen) I have a feeling that if someone passed me a baby, I would have to take a sniff.

    • Delora says:

      I never got a desire to smell heads, but I do have an overwhelming urge to rub my cheek / upper lip against bald baby heads. (No, I’m not kissing your baby, I’m just rubbing my lips on their head.) There’s something about that sensation of newborn peach fuzz that can’t be matched.

  23. Denise Zackman says:

    Mmmm, mmmm that smell!
    Until the stink of the world invades them

  24. Mary says:

    I always love your posts, but this one is especially spot on. “Smell all the babies!!!!!”

  25. Sara says:

    This is 100% true! I held my sisters baby recently and wow, that smell made my ovaries shoot eggs out or something. I got all starry eyed and got the baby cravings. But we are SO done!

  26. Jean Russell says:

    60 years and counting,this craving doesn’t go away…( thank goodness the factory shut down) but like new leather shoes or a new box of crayons,you still want to sniff.

  27. Niki says:

    I quit babies a little over four years ago. I have no regrets but to this day, I still crave them. If it weren’t for second hand babies, I am sure I would relapse.

  28. Charity says:

    Lavender and armpit…..yep. How do you just always know? lol

    • Karen says:

      I know! That little detail nearly killed me, my daughter’s head was exactly that. California Baby shampoo and wash plus co-sleeping/nursing? That was our combo!

  29. Jill says:

    Like you, we’re two and through but I get it, I so get it! Just that little whiff and feeling them all tiny in my arms and I start getting little murmurs in my brain about maybe having a third. Fortunately, for me at least, it wears off and I’m back to normal in a few hours.

  30. David says:

    I’m a dad, and I still smell my two kids whenever I hug them. They are 4 and 2 years old. I can even tell their clothes apart by their smell.

    • lsg1378 says:

      ^ Yup! Me too … plus now they are older (12 and 10) they sniff their new brother (1) as well as us!!! LOL! We love our family ‘smell’ 😉

  31. Jhana says:

    guilty. just yesterday, actually. then my 9 and 6 year olds did it too and they were like “that’s the stuff!”.

  32. Debi says:

    I took some hits off of a baby head today!! It’s the best thing ever, and it truly made me happy all afternoon:)

  33. Sémone says:

    Oh ladies! Please be careful with this drug! I took one hit (ok, maybe it was 7… or 83) of newborn baby head smell a couple of months ago. Lo and behold, this “absolutely-done-with-babies-our-family-is-complete” mama of 3 is now about to become a mama of 4!

  34. Amy says:

    I have babies and I still inhale other babies. You don’t pass on that shit!

  35. I know what you mean! My ‘baby’ is 5…so I am that woman who will take your newborn off your hands so you can go take a shower….you can even take a nap…the baby will be happy with me (if freshly nursed)

  36. Jen says:

    Everyone always talks about how great new babies smell, but my babies spit up so much they just smell like sour milk :/ Maybe I need to find a secondhand non-spitty baby…

    • momw2ms says:

      Yeah, I had a spitter, too. Not just your normal spit-up. A cover-the-chair-you-are-sitting-on-with-a-beach-towel, make me cry spitter. Sour milk, I can still smell it 8 yrs later.

  37. Julie says:

    LOL um, I started a candle company that makes a New Baby Scent candle because I am so obsessed with this smell. It’s called PudgeBaby, and yes people ARE addicted to that new baby scent!

    • Sanj says:

      How do you get the scent of new babies into candles? Is the recipe something like baby shampoo mixed with breast milk and vanilla? I won’t copy it or put you out of business – I’m just very curious! 🙂 Also, does the new baby smell differ depending upon the baby’s diet? I imagine it would.
      My new little granddaughter is due to be born on Thanksgiving (cool timing) so I am anticipating some really big sniffing and a whole lot of gratitude. Yum!

  38. Eliese says:

    smelling my baby’s head as I read this and trying not to laugh so I don’t wake him up!

  39. Angie says:

    That smell is why my best friend and I are each moms of four in alternating years. Then she went and upped the ante by getting pregnant with twins this year. I think I’m out!

    • Cynthia812 says:

      My SIL and I have been playing that game for the last six years. I got a head start by two, but she’s the one pregnant now. Nine children between us counting new baby.

  40. Trish says:

    I call it Baby Head Smell. There is nothing like it.

  41. Becky says:

    My favorite poem from “Haiku Mama ” is:
    “Sniffing newborn’s head
    Primal urge takes over
    Try not to eat him”

  42. Laura Bartko says:

    This is really a thing! some researchers in Canada studied baby huffing and its rewards:


  43. Jo says:

    I don’t just smell ’em, I press their perfect little warm skulls to my eye socket and bask in the magic oxytocin connections that happens when I do that. I can’t really explain it… you probably don’t want me to!

    • Cobble says:

      The Eye Socket sniff! Been accused of Bogarting my first grandchild. Making the Grampa noise (deep purring) calmed him and me down. Alas he is 5, a Jedi Knight, and so over hugs for the time being.

      • J. Haven says:

        Hah! I was also accused of bogarting the grandbabies, a LOT!
        Mine aren’t old enough to stop giving me hugs yet, not even the one whose middle name is after a Jedi. 😀

  44. Laurel says:

    When I sniff a baby’s head, my husband tells me I’m sucking the youth right out of him/her.

  45. Too true! It’s amazing how good babies smell. I need a good sniff right now…

  46. Cat says:

    Babies release Oxytocin. Just through contact women get that happy lovey dovey feeling. It’s supposed to help us bond to our children. Guys do too just not at the level women do.

  47. Pam says:

    my 2 month old grandson is in California and I am in Wisconsin. My dear friend just became a gramma for the first time and I too took a good whiff of the newborns head! Magical! Love it!

  48. Naomi says:

    I laughed at this – so true. Also true of new puppies. 😀 One of our dogs has never lost her puppy smell. We shamelessly sniff her ears when she’s giving us cuddles. Even the dog thinks we are mad.

  49. Kim F says:

    Yeah, be wary of that new baby smell. More potent than new car smell. It’s part of their sales pitch. I’m a total sucker for it too. 😉

  50. Erin says:

    I’m having twins in December. You can come smell them in exchange for sundry or washing dishes. Just think…two baby heads to smell!

    • Tina Hart says:

      Before my first grand daughter was born, this was a rule! Don’t bring no stinking baby around me! Now, Baby girl and then twin boys, I have not been disappointed! Those kids make me melt! I could get a nose bleed from sniffing!
      Truly blessed with the beautiful smell of baby!!!!!

  51. Cathie says:

    My 13 year old was sitting on the lounge the other day playing with my 2 year old…13 year old ” Mum you need to have another baby ” ME “why” 13 year old ” Don’t you just love the smell of new born babies ” Me ” yes, yes I do ” True story……..:)

  52. Ariane says:

    It’s a real thing! They’ve done studies. And the smell wears off around two, which is why you start wanting another when your baby hits two.

  53. Geri says:

    I have a 10 year old. I still smell his head.

  54. LegoMama says:

    I’m reading this and though my youngest is four and well past the good smell (boys, ew) I can immediately recall it. Warm, clean skin with that soft brush of baby hair. Ahhh, I want to sniff a baby…

  55. Jessica says:

    That WAS some good shit! Love the PS, the PPS and the 2nd PPS!

  56. Amanda says:

    There was a study I read about a while ago. Apparently baby-head-smell lights up the same area of a woman’s brain as chocolate. explains a lot doesn’t it?

  57. Reese says:

    I’ll admit I love the smell of baby feet. I can sniff my kids baby feet for hours. In general, not a fan of big people feet and I think they’re kind of gross. I also love the smell of puppies.

  58. Amanda says:

    That’s what I call a “fresh baby.” Fresh into the world lol! Gotta love that smell!!!!

  59. Natalie says:

    That clean, fluffy baby hair fuzz is just as good as the scent.
    I love how it feels on my nose and cheeks as I’m leaning in for a whiff. My son is 4yrs old…and who knows what gets stuck in his hair these days. On days that he has waffles for breakfast he smells like maple syrup, which is always a nice surprise.

  60. Rana says:

    Oh my gosh, I could not stop laughing. I so do this. My nephew is 2 months old and every time I hold him I have to smell his little head. I also love to smell little baby feet, especially when they have been wearing the little footy pajamas. My husband always looked at me crazy when I did this with our kids.

  61. Lisa says:

    I caught myself taking extra deep breaths one day when I was standing 4 feet away from a mom with a newborn. It’s a sickness I tell you!!!

  62. Kelly says:

    I can get high off of people’s baby pics on Facebook now. No lie!

  63. Betsy says:

    hahahaha why do you think La Leche League Leaders and Lactation Consultants tend to have multiple kids? contact high! I have a VERY high tolerance now. I can handle babies all day long without even the URGE to take a hit, unless it’s a particularly potent form of adorableness, or if it’s a really squishy newborn. In my earlier days in my career though I would not only sniff but often unconsciously KISS the top of my clients’ baby’s heads. It was kinda awkward.

  64. Anne Griffin-Lewin says:

    I don’t even have kids, but the baby head smell is euphoric!

  65. Lisa says:

    Ah, newborn scent. But even though my kids are 7 and 5 I still love to inhale their smell when they’re cuddled up on my lap or asleep in my bed. It’s so pure and intoxicating.

  66. Outi says:

    Nothing, NOTHING in this world smells better than a newborn baby’s head 🙂 Now that my kids are almost 6 and almost 4, I have to settle for the intoxicating scent of autumn. *sniiiifffff*

  67. janice says:

    I love that newborn smell and I don’t even have babies. Totally believe that eau de newborn babies would make the world a more peaceful place, haha.

  68. unschoolingmom says:

    LOL… I too loved the armpit comment!!!

    There’s a French movie called La Belle Verte where a “person” from another planet comes to Earth. She is appalled by our diet and pollution and ways of life and can’t even eat our food, but she manages to get all her energy just from holding babies!!!

    It’s kinda weird but also sweet in the sense that she gets everything she needs from giving them love. I thought it was a great message.

  69. mbaxtermomma says:

    YOu read my mind, am feeling so broody I work in a library and lots of small babies are there sigh I actually tear up looking at their little faces , the whole new baby thing would kill me from exhaustion but yet..BABY HEAD SMELL YUMMY…

  70. Debby says:

    I have a little story that has become a classic in our family. My son had such a powerful baby smell that my friends would comment how it permeated their clothes when they held him, they could smell him all day on themselves. I was in such a constant habit of sniffing his head that when another kid poured a cup of milk on his head at nursery school – I repeatedly kept sniffing him even though he stank of sour milk! I couldn’t stop myself.

  71. Mary says:

    My name is Mary and I am an addict. We have two wonderful children. Ages 5 & 7 (now), we had a boy and a girl, had planned on two kiddos, we had them, we were done. Two years ago as I held my new nephew in my arms my husband looked at me and said “you want another one don’t you”. My response “You can’t ask me that right now.” But in that one question he had stated that he was not against the idea. Fast forward to today and I am 8 weeks pregnant. That feeling did not go away after handing my nephew back, it just got worse with every baby I held.

  72. Micki says:

    Ah yes, that new baby smell!

  73. Kristi says:

    100% truth. I love “new baby smell”. Just thinking about it makes my ovaries quiver. We’re done though, but I enjoy some second-hand baby smell. 😉

  74. Melissa says:

    Love the South Park reference!

  75. Mel says:

    I’m 34 and when I give my mom a hug she still smells me and tells me I smell like me. (I think she is trying to ensure I haven’t been swapped by an alien or changeling)

  76. daboysmom says:

    Don’t you hate when some moms just bogart their babies. You’re like, “Hey man. Don’t bring that out unless you plan on sharing!”

  77. Lidia says:

    I just tried inhaling my two year old’s head. She’s gone stale. It needs to be a baby who can’t walk yet, or maybe it just needs to be someone else’s two year old…

  78. Cynthia812 says:

    I so did that just this weekend! I was holding my sister’s 2mo and just breathed her in. My sister thought I was crazy. My youngest in only 8mo, and he still smells awesome, but it’s not the newborn smell. She’ll understand some day.

  79. Mary Armatis says:

    My brother grabs babies to get a whiff at church and at weddings since he isn’t making his own anymore. It is a common practice in my family and is hysterical at family gatherings, all of us gathered around the babies.

  80. krystal says:

    Eeww, don’t you know where babies come from!?!? 😉

  81. Courtney says:

    Am I the only one who can’t smell my own baby’s head? I’ve always loved the baby head scent, but I don’t notice it on my own babies. I guess I’m just around them too much. (Not complaining!)

  82. June says:

    The armpit… so true! One of ours, when she could scoot on her own, would push her head up up up until she was firmly ensconced in her dad’s armpit. Like a warm skullcap or something.

    I have a bloodhound sense of smell (and strong scents trigger migraines), so we use no perfumed soaps, laundry detergents, etc – my babies always smelled like… skin. Sometimes, even today, they come in smelling like a windy day outdoors.

  83. Bridgett says:

    Yup. Baby head. It is goooood stuff.

  84. Mary Clare says:

    Armpit! He he. As babies, my daughters would get all up in my armpit when they’d nurse and sometime the smell would get on their heads.

  85. amwstevenson says:

    sniff, sniff, pass?

  86. Erica says:

    My kids are 17,13 and 7 and I still smell them. I smell their pillows too when I’m in their rooms. I am a mother and baby care nurse so I get too smell lots of babies at work. Sometimes I go home and still have the smell on me

  87. J. Haven says:

    We had 4 grandchildren in 2 years, so I got to almost overdose on that amazing smell. Bliss!

    When our first grandchild was born (by planned c-section) I went to the nursery to see my stepson and the baby. The nurse had finished tormenting them and my stepson was staring at his not-so-tiny daughter, looking lost and pretty scared. I really, really wanted to pick the baby up but I wasn’t sure whether or not he had held her yet, and in my confusion and yearning I asked, ‘Have you smelled her head yet?’
    He picked up the baby and gave her head a reluctant sniff, and those wonderful hormones kicked in right away – by the time Mommy was in her overnight room he was a goner. Hooray for the scent of a baby’s head ^~^

  88. Lana says:

    I got to snuggle a baby around a week ago (close friend whose older daughter I provided breast milk for a few years ago and she asked me to look after her) she was so perfect and little. It was so nice to snuggle a baby outside of being “clinical/paid work” and just enjoy the baby.. it made me feel happy and sad at the same time.

    Joy because it was the first time I met this baby because her mother and I live several hours away, and she is an absolute delight.

    and also a deep and resounding ache in my heart for myself. No jealousy over not being the one to have a baby. Just my own longing. it really highlighted the emotions I have about this

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  90. Margaret says:

    I smelled a baby head exatly one time in my life. It was my niece. Dangerous stuff, those baby pheremones!
    “Puff, puff, pass, yo! Hit it, don’t babysit it! Or, go ahead and babysit it…”

  91. TG says:

    i have a toddler whose head i loved to sniff. a lot. then i got pregnant again and couldn’t stand to smell anyone or anything, including him! help!!! i need this new baby to come out so i can tolerate smells again!

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  94. Liz says:

    I sniff baby clothes too. I call it “cute baby smell”.

  95. Carbca says:

    Ok, this post has me absolutely bawling my face off. My youngest is 17 months old (today) and as I read it, I could remember that smell and squooshieness. And just the mere THOUGHT of it was enough to make me want 1700 more babies. Now. I know my sanity will return shortly, anyone got a newborn I can squish?

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  99. Truthbetold says:

    Well I have always loved the smell of little girl feet because they have the cutest feet, and their feet are always extra stinky and cheesy. I can’t get enough of it. Now I find out lots of people love the smell of little girls stinky feet:p