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As an expectant parent, you will be surprised to learn that babies do not pop out ready to smile in the manner you and I do. Yes, the equipment is all there and functioning pretty well. You will see smiles or rather what is called reflex smiles. Your baby starts smiling in this manner in the uterus and this is like a test drive before this little bun is popped out of the oven. You could even see a smile on the first day of this new life but these reflex smiles morph into actual smiles with meanings behind them. They could smile because they are no longer wet after a nappy change, are gassy or are just simply content.
What Does Your Baby’s First Smile Indicate About His Development?
The first time this little person smiles for real and not as a reflex this indicates their sight is developed. Newborns are generally nearsighted and cannot see beyond a certain point; so until now, mommy’s face had to be up close for your little darling to see it. Enjoy it as it is one of the most rewarding things about being a parent. The baby has also developed cognitive recognition to the point of recognising things and acknowledging the ones they enjoy and like, whether they are people or inanimate objects.
When Does a Baby Start to Smile?
A reflex smile could pop within the womb or the first day you are introduced to your little one. A baby’s first smile, a legit one, develops around one and half months, or even later. Do not worry if they take their time smiling and concern yourself by wondering when newborns smile. It could take anywhere between this time and four months for your baby’s smile. If you are missing out on the reflex smiles, do not worry, as they are fleeting. Blink and they are gone, that’s how quick they are. Your baby has no clue they are doing them and you probably won’t either. You could catch them while they sleep or during a nappy change.
What If the Infant Isn’t Smiling?
As mentioned in the previous section, a baby’s reflex smiles are quick and you could be missing them. Yes, this is very common and you have nothing to worry about.
Even if they are not smiling that much or at all, remember that it is a little human being, and just like adults, they have their own temperaments. Your baby could be the sort that just does not like to smile too much. This could change as they grow but that is who they are for now.
Parents can worry when their baby doesn’t smile at all, as babies who do not smile could grow to be diagnosed with autism. This is not true in all cases as autistic babies smile as well. Moreover, autism is diagnosed only later in life and not before two years. Give your baby the space to develop at their own pace.
Focus on their overall communication. Babies smile in response to vocal cues as well. They respond in the same manner quicker as their sight is still developing. Make note of that and talk to them. Encourage their other communication venues till they are ready to smile for you.
How to Encourage Your Baby to Smile?
- Since your baby is nearsighted, you should get up close and personal. Be dramatic and over the top so they can make out what you are doing to see that little smile and constantly talk to them and communicate how much you love their smiles.
- Communication is key as mentioned earlier. They rely on the aural world to figure out what is going on and what is good or bad. So talk to your baby and let them mirror your behaviour. Your grin should be a wide one so they can see it and they are likely to smile back at you.
- Engage your baby with toys and games as they are likely to respond to these with a smile. Peekaboo may make you feel silly but they react to it with surprise and excitement. It also has the added bonus of all that excitement tuckering them out so they nap easier. Introduce them to new toys that make noises that they love.
- Try getting physical by tickling them or blowing raspberries on their belly. They are bound to squeal and giggle about this. And there’s your smile!
When Do Babies Start Laughing?
You are now probably wondering at what age do babies laugh. Your baby’s first laugh is expected between four to six weeks of age. They will laugh in reaction to seeing something they like or a game you are playing with them. It is another step for them towards expanding their range of expressions and they will develop this in their own time so you should not worry if they are a little late on their first laugh as well.
Your little one is on a fresh new journey and is setting out into the world. Soon you will discover another layer of this tiny being in your life and they will communicate their needs, demands and affections in multiple new ways to your delight. Enjoy this phase before they quickly transition into the next.
Also Read: How to Make Baby Laugh?