You don’t need another call from grandma begging for her next fix to know there’s something about babies that make people feel good. Or, as new father Dave Mosher recently pointed out in Business Insider, “bodaciously high.” According to a growing body of bonding research, parenting is basically nature’s Burning Man. And the best part is it’s the only kind of intoxication that makes you a better caretaker. So, no intervention.
Research published in the journal Frontiers In Psychology suggests that your kid’s smell has something to do with it. When women just sniffed their infants’ pajamas it triggered the same reward center in their brain as drugs. Maia Szalavitz, a science journalist who co-authored Born For Love (a book about the science of bonding), explains that getting you hooked on newborn is ultimately nature’s goal. “Addiction is what happens when this [reward] system gets attached to a drug rather than a person.” Like most parenting studies, most of these theories about bonding and baby highs have focused disproportionately on mothers. But you can conduct your own research once your spouse stops bogarting the kid.
One study published in the journal Biological Psychology looked at fathers and found that oxytocin — the intoxicating bonding hormone released during sex, birth, and hanging out with dogs — surged based on how their behavior was rewarded by their children. Mothers were more affected when comforting kids, while fathers’ reward systems were triggered by playing with them. So if you’re playing Patty Cake and things get trippy, now you know why.
[H/T] Business Insider