When you have a newer baby, they aren’t much fun. They sleep, eat, poop and cry. After surviving the first month, I felt like we should be doing SOMETHING with the baby when he was awake other than just staring at him or talking to him. At this age, the Trikester wasn’t really a barrel of fun, but we still wanted to engage him and interact. So we played a game called “What’s that smell?”

Of all a newborn’s senses, their sense of smell matures first. Studies suggest that within a few days, newborns show a distinct preference for their mother’s smell. In fact, by two weeks of age, babies can tell the difference between their mom’s breast milk and another mom’s breast milk.

“What’s that smell?” is really simple – we just let the baby smell stuff. I like knowing that we’re exposing him to different odors before he’s able to eat solids  – maybe it will help him develop the expansive culinary palate we’re hoping to cultivate. As a side benefit, we find the game highly entertaining. When we give the Trikester something to smell, you can see and hear his little nose sniffing away – to us, it’s the funniest thing (simple pleasures, right?).  When he likes a smell, he’ll keep sniffing; when he doesn’t like a smell, he’ll turn his head away or scrunch up his face.

There are all kinds of things around your house that babies might like to smell. A little tip: if you want your baby to sniff a liquid, it’s a good idea to put it on a paper towel or cotton ball  – that way you avoid dumping it all over their face when you tip it too close to their nose (not that I did that with a bottle of raspberry extract, or anything).

Here’s a list of things we’ve let the Trikester smell. Try them for yourself and see how your baby reacts.


  • Vanilla extract
  • Almond extract
  • Coffee grounds
  • Christmas tree needles
  • Orange zest (I’ve read babies don’t like citrus smells, but ours doesn’t seem to mind)
  • Candles (all kinds of different scents)
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Morning breath (he isn’t fazed by this at all)
  • Lavender
  • Peonies
  • Grape halves
  • Cucumber slices
  • Bacon

Have you tried exposing your baby to different smells? Do they show a strong preference for anything specific?