Your Toddler’s Sense of Smell

Your toddler’s nose is nowhere near as discerning as yours is. It’s important to remember that our senses are heightened after pregnancy. The scent of a dirty diaper is pretty powerful to us, but not so much to our kids. Our body odor doesn’t offend them either – that’s why they’ll snuggle up to you even when you haven’t had a chance to shower all day and you may think you stink, but your child doesn’t notice.

This lack of acuity and sensitivity in their sense of smell is part of the reason why your toddler cannot distinguish between safe and dangerous products. Cleaning fluids that smell acrid and repulsive to us do not to our toddlers. Part of our job as parents is to help them identify what is safe and what isn’t and until they have the ability to distinguish it for themselves, you have to keep those items away from them.

So When Does Their Sense of Smell Become More Acute?

You’ll notice that your toddler is starting to become more aware of the scents in their world about the same time they are getting the hang of potty training. It’s interesting because when they have accidents – they become more hyper aware of them because of how it feels, but also how it smells. They can tell you when the bathroom is stinky and you may even notice a rejection of foods that they previously liked because the scents are powerful and different for them – now.

This is a good time to begin exposing your child to different scents around the house and around familiarizing them with bad smells as well as good ones. The more you expose them to, the more they will begin to recognize what is nice and what isn’t and they will also develop their own preferences. My daughter for example loved oranges before her sense of smell got developed and she went off oranges for a while because she didn’t like the scents of citrus.

Be aware that during this time period that your child will resist new foods if they are powerfully pungent and they may go nuts for foods that smell strange to you. It’s important to recognize that taste and smell are very closely intertwined and that what smells funny to them is something they are going to resist tasting – so be patient and take your time – they will get more adventurous as they go along.

Related Articles:

The Sense of Sight – Looking at the World Through Rose-Colored Glasses

The Sense of Touch – The World is at Their Fingertips

Stop & Smell the Roses

Baby’s 5 Senses and How They Develop over the First Year

Make a 5 Senses Book

Toddler Tips: Toys for Tots

This entry was posted in 18-24 Months and tagged , , , , by Heather Long. Bookmark the permalink.

About Heather Long

Heather Long is 35 years old and currently lives in Wylie, Texas. She has been a freelance writer for six years. Her husband and she met while working together at America Online over ten years ago. They have a beautiful daughter who just turned five years old. She is learning to read and preparing for kindergarten in the fall. An author of more than 300 articles and 500+ web copy pieces, Heather has also written three books as a ghostwriter. Empty Canoe Publishing accepted a novel of her own. A former horse breeder, Heather used to get most of her exercise outside. In late 2004, early 2005 Heather started studying fitness full time in order to get herself back into shape. Heather worked with a personal trainer for six months and works out regularly. She enjoys shaking up her routine and checking out new exercises. Her current favorites are the treadmill (she walks up to 90 minutes daily) and doing yoga for stretching. She also performs strength training two to three times a week. Her goals include performing in a marathon such as the Walk for Breast Cancer Awareness or Team in Training for Lymphoma research. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience through the fitness and marriage blogs.