This study assessed the responsiveness of newborn breast- and bottle-fed infants to presentations of maternal odor. Maternal odor was presented for 1 min to crying, sleeping or awake newborns. The odors were: (1) own mother’s odor – presentation of a hospital gown worn by the baby’s mother, (2) other mother’s odor – presentation of a hospital gown of another newborn baby’s mother, (3) clean gown – presentation of a clean hospital gown and (4) no gown – no gown presented. The results indicated that crying babies stopped crying when either own mother or other mother odor was presented. Awake babies responded specifically to their own mother’s odor by increasing mouthing. These results suggest that the practice of presenting the mother’s odor to a distressed infant is of clinical usefulness since it was capable of attenuating crying. The results also characterized a role for maternal odor with respect to feeding since presentation of the infant’s own mother odor increased mouthing. Thus, presentation of maternal odor may also be useful in enhancing nipple acceptance and feeding in newborns.

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