Baby's First Year · Parenting

Baby’s first smile

Parent holding smiling baby up in the air

After weeks of waking up for late night feeds, diaper changes, and randomly waking up wondering if baby is ok, you are about to get the moment you have been waiting for (or perhaps you already have), your baby’s first smile!

The first moment I saw that smile as a new mom, the one that says “hey…ya you…Hi! I love you! You are the best!” was the best feeling I felt since the moment I gave birth. It was the moment that I realized my baby was noticing me and recognized me. All that hard work had been completely worth it!

Your baby’s smile is a way for him to communicate and to share a positive emotion. It is a milestone that shows that baby’s vision has advanced (he is able to see more things, and you), and that his brain has developed (baby is now aware that a smile will get your attention and that he is sharing emotions with you).

Previous to that smile, there were multiple times when I thought, did he just smile? Is he too young? Perhaps you have noticed a smile or two, or you were wondering the same thing.

Isn’t a smile just a smile? How can you tell the difference?

Three common types of smiles in babies:

  1. Reflex Smile
    From 0-6 weeks of age, babies will smile in their sleep due to a reflex.
  2. Responsive Smile
    From 6-8 weeks babies often smile for sensory experiences that they enjoy- when they hear a familiar voice, a fun noise, see a preferable face, or when they are given pleasure like a cuddle.
  3. Social Smile
    From 2-3 months- the smile that you’ve been waiting for! The smile that says, I want to bond with you, I love you! Baby will smile when she sees you, or to react to funny noises/facial expressions. When baby gets the hang of smiling, she will start to pair her smiles with grunting, vocalizations, gurgling sounds, body movements, and eventually giggles!

Reflex smiles are short random smiles, while social smiles are interactive (usually with you or a familiar face) and you will see expression in your baby’s eye (e.g., eyes will light up).

Studies show that babies who get a lot of affection early on, develop faster, have larger brains, and are more social. You can’t spoil a newborn baby enough!

To encourage your baby to smile, find a time when he is well rested and alert, and have fun during daily routines like diaper changes, feeds, and bath time.

Try:

  • Getting face to face
  • Talking to your baby, and model a smile
  • Singing, playing, making silly noises, and funny faces

Remember, smiling is new, your baby will probably not do it on command, and may become upset if and when he becomes too excited or overwhelmed.

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