Are you wondering about when to see your baby’s first smile? After 9 long months, your little one is finally here and you cannot stop grinning from ear to ear as you cuddle and coo with her.
However, don’t expect your newborn to immediately gaze into your eyes and give you a toothless smile just yet — this is a milestone that usually comes when your baby is around two months old.
Is it really important to try to get a smile out of your bub, and what can you do to encourage a tiny grin out of her?
Reasons why babies smile
Photo by Sunvani Hoang from Pexels
You might think that little grimace could possibly be your newborn’s first smile, but if she’s only a few weeks old, chances are that it is probably just her passing gas!
Other reasons that your baby might look like she’s smiling could actually be because she is:
- Falling asleep
- Feeling content
- Very comfortable
Even if her supposedly grin is due to flatulence or because she is straining to poop, this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy that adorable little face and pretend that it is a real smile is just for you.
When do babies start smiling and cooing?
You can expect your baby’s first smile to appear when she is about six to eight weeks old when she will flash you a genuine “social smile”.
During her two-month check-up, the doctor might also ask you whether she’s flashed her first smile, as this milestone indicates a few things at this stage such as:
Understanding of human behavior
Not only is it a sign that she’s growing up, but it also shows that she is starting to figure out human behavior as she realizes that it is normal for humans to smile at one another.
Instead of just crying, your bub will discover that smiling back at you will get your attention and most likely a positive response.
As your baby grows, she will observe the world around her and pick up new skills which is a good sign that her brain development is advancing right on track.
You can help encourage your baby to show you her first smile
How to make your baby smile
If you have been anxiously waiting to see your little one’s sweet first smile, there are a few ways you can help to encourage a gummy grin out of her, like:
- Smile at her
- Cuddle her
- Play with her
- Talk to her as often as you can
- Kiss her
- Hug her
Be patient and just continue to shower your baby with love and affection to help put a smile on her face. Encouraging your baby to smile can help boost their self-esteem.
It can make them feel that their presence can impact their environment and that their feelings matter. On the other hand, smiling at your child whenever they smile can also help them learn about cause and effect. Overall, motivating your baby to smile benefits their growth and development.
Why do newborns smile in their sleep?
A newborn baby that smiles while sleeping might be just passing gas. However, when they reach the age of 2 months, your baby’s first social smile may be seen lighting up their face.
The first smile from your baby is a sign that their brain and communication skill is developing. It also means the beginning of them figuring out human behavior. Your baby’s first smile is part of their growing-up development. It is the stage where they start to realize that whenever they smile, it will probably get your attention.
Things to remember about your baby’s first smile
Photo by Sunvani Hoang from Pexels
Do not be too pressured about making your baby smile. It may take a few attempts before you can finally see it on their lips.
To avoid stimulation overload and exercise control over their world, your baby may smile at you but avoid looking in your eyes. It is normal, and there is nothing to worry about it.
Even if they are not looking at you, they are still learning about the parent’s touch and facial expression. Just continue making them smile. Eventually, they will learn to hold their gaze for longer periods of time.
It may be challenging for both parents to care for a child at this stage. That is why it is important for the couple to understand each other’s way of caring for the baby. Try to respect differences in how you make your baby smile and how you play with them.
If you have a premature baby, remember that it may take them more time to catch up with growth and development. Don’t pressure yourself and your baby towards their first milestone, which is their first social smile. Give them a few more weeks or a month before they can finally have that very first sweet smile on their lips.
When to worry about your first baby smile
Each child is different from the other and develops at their own time and pace, so if your two month old baby has not given you a smile yet, this is no cause for concern.
But if an older baby or toddler does not smile when smiled at, this could possibly be an early sign of autism, which is a spectrum that causes delays in certain basic areas of development, such as learning to talk, playing, and interacting with others.
However, if your baby hasn’t smiled at you but is able to vocalize herself, make eye contact and respond to your verbal and visual cues, then it could just mean that she may not have a smiley personality.
Remember to always voice any concerns to a doctor about your baby’s growth and development.
Babies laughing while asleep
It is common for babies to laugh while they are sleeping. It is called hypnogely and is usually harmless. However, there are cases where laughing during sleep can be a sign of a neurological problem.
According to the Healthline article, when a baby laughs while sleeping, it is believed to be a reflex rather than what most of us think – a baby dreaming.
In general, there are two types of sleep that we experience. These are rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM sleep. And everyone goes through multiple cycles of these two kinds of sleep.
In REM sleep, our eyes move quickly back and forth. That is when most dreams occur. The brain waves, heartbeat, and blood pressure are similar to when you are awake. However, you may experience irregular breathing and temporary paralysis in your legs and arms.
Photo by Ivone De Melo from Pexels
On the other hand, non-REM sleep is when you feel more relaxed. The heartbeat, breathing, and brain activity slow down. Your muscles are also relaxed. This part of sleep is important to feel refreshed.
We are not sure if babies also have dreams as they sleep, but they experience active sleep similar to REM sleep. The involuntary movements during their active sleep may be the reason why they laugh and smile during sleep.
However, there are rare cases where the baby’s laughter while asleep is caused by a gelastic seizure. This type of seizure can happen in infants. T
he symptom of this seizure is uncontrolled giggling that lasts around 10 to 20 seconds. It can start as early as infancy. It usually occurs while the baby is sleeping. There are also times that it wakes them up from sleep.
Talk to your pediatrician if you notice this symptom usually happens to your baby especially if it is accompanied by a blank stare and unusual body movements.
Republished with permission from theAsianParent Singapore
Additional report by: Jobelle Macayan
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