As your newborn gets more and more control of its new body and begins to perceive more of its environment, it will start to interact with you in more interesting ways.
Smiling and laughing is one of the earlier milestones where your baby’s personality starts showing up. Seeing that first smile and getting a genuine giggle is an amazing moment.
It starts with a smile
Shortly after birth — and sometimes even while still in the womb — a baby can flash a smile as a reflex. This happens as your baby is testing out its new body and getting used to operating the “machinery.”
However, around the time your baby is 6-12 weeks old, it will generally start to smile in response to things in its environment.
The first real smile you get is a heartwarming experience. Be sure to smile back to encourage the activity and to show your precious one that smiling is a good thing.
At what age should your baby start to laugh?
After mastering the art of smiling, your baby will be ready to start laughing when it is amused.
Most babies will start laughing when they are around 3 or 4 months old. But every baby is unique, so don’t be concerned if your baby takes a little longer to get into the swing of things.
How to help your baby discover laughter
At first, babies laugh in response to something that feels good, such as tickling or kissing its belly. A funny face or amusing sound can also get a reaction of laughter.
Some things you can do to encourage your baby to laugh include:
Gently touching it
Light tickling, gently blowing on your baby’s skin, and kissing their hands and feet can create a pleasurable sensation that gets a giggle.
Making funny faces
Twisting your face into entertaining contortions, or sticking your tongue out, can tickle a baby’s funny bone. It’s a classic technique.
Making funny sounds can be just as effective as making a funny face. Try making sounds with your mouth, like kissing sounds, popping sounds, etc. Or try speaking in a squeaky voice. “Raspberry” sounds can also be effective.
Sometimes all it takes is a squeaky toy or jingling bell to trigger laughter in your baby. Try out various objects in its environment to see if you get a giggle out of any of them.
This is another classic. Games like peek-a-boo have been getting laughs out of babies for ages.
However, these types of games rely on your baby’s ability to grasp the concept that things still exist even when you don’t see them. This is called “object permanence,” and usually starts to develop in babies when they are between4 and 7 months old.
What if my baby isn’t laughing?
Every baby unique, and some hit milestones at different times than others. If your baby isn’t laughing by the time it is 6 months old, it’s not time to worry yet. Just keep giving your baby a safe loving environment and reasons to smile and laugh, and one day you get that long-awaited laugh.
If you do have some concerns about your baby not smiling and laughing adequately, discuss it with your healthcare provider.