What A Baby’s Smile Says About Herself
It’s indeed one of parents’ most thrilling experiences to see their baby smile for the first time. Each time they see their baby smile brings a special stroke of joy to every parent’s heart.
Smiling is a baby’s very first social skill. It means that he’s picking up on how his relationship with the environment works. It’s also a significant signal of emotional growth. Smiling is your baby’s way of telling you that he can already distinguish various emotional states. He starts to become aware that the happy sensation he feels when you’re around is different from the sad sensation he feels when you’re not.
An infant cannot produce a social smile unless he reaches eight weeks. It could take that long for the vision and the nervous system to develop the ability to recognize you and smile back.
Before we dig deeper on how you can boost your child’s emotional growth by encouraging him to smile, let’s first talk about how a baby learns to develop a genuine smile.
0-6 Weeks: Reflexive Smile
You will usually detect your newborn’s first grin while he’s asleep, You will see him startle, twitch, and somewhat curve his lips forming into a smile-looking grin. During your baby’s REM sleep, his body goes through certain physiological changes that enable some reflexes—and one of those is a smile. In this case, we can’t call it an emotional smile yet. It’s just a mere physical reaction as of this time.
6-8 Weeks: Responsive Smile
When your child grows, he will start smiling at random things he deems pleasurable—voices, faces, and cuddles. However, try not to expect too much at this stage. His smile, this time, is some sort of a reaction to sensory experiences— still not a true social response yet. Your baby isn’t fully aware of who you are yet. At this stage, you can activate her smile by learning the expressions and noises that make him smile.
2-3 Months: Social Smile
As mentioned, a genuine social smile might not be able to happen until after eight weeks. His smile, this time, could still be internal reactions to anything that catches his attention. However, this time, he already has the tendency to connect. Your baby will shine a smile when he sees you and will react when you mimic silly sounds like oinking, mooing, and beeping. He will also learn that he can get a reaction from you when he smiles—and not only when he cries.
The grunting, gurgling, and strange humming are all efforts of your baby to try expressing himself. However, you should remember that your baby will not smile anytime you wish him to. He also has to express other emotions he has. However, if he doesn’t smile at all in 12 weeks, better consult your pediatrician, so he can check if your baby is experiencing developmental delays.
About 6 Months: Undiscriminating Smile
Yes, each baby develops at his own pace. There are babies that could be more smiling than others. However, just be patient because the right time will come when he becomes a master of a smile.
About 9 Months: Selective Smile
This is the exact time when your kid begins to identify you as someone special and different from other people. However, there could be a drawback to this. Some babies have Stranger Anxiety and Separation Anxiety. Your previously sociable baby could come to a point when he stops smiling at people he hasn’t seen before. Though this could be disappointing sometimes, you shouldn’t worry because this is actually a healthy development of your baby being able to distinguish faces well.
Because of this, your baby’s sense of object permanence will be fostered. He will realize that something does exist even when he cannot see it.
About 12 Months: A Sense of Humor
As your child begins to develop his language, his sense of humor also sets in. When babies laugh again and again when you make silly faces and noises, he will also have the urge to try doing something that will make you react too. Treasure the moments when you bond with your baby like this because they will never become your little babies again when they start to mature and grow old.
Now let’s try to talk about some tips on how to encourage your baby to smile some more.
Month 2, Week 1
When you encourage your baby to smile some more, you are helping him enhance his self-esteem. It makes him feel that his feelings are indeed important and that he can have influence over his environment. This also helps him in his brain development.
Here are some fun tips to make your little one giggle:
- Do it at the right timing. Do it when your baby is in a relaxed state. When your baby is hungry, he’s less likely to grant you his smile.
- Take your baby in your arms drawing your face near his. Note that your baby can see best at 8-12 inches away during this age.
- Widely smile at him and bid him a welcoming “hello” with that sing-song pitch you are good at.
Your Baby’s Development This Week
- After two rigid months of diaper changes and late-night feedings, you are now in for your biggest parental treat—a smile from your baby. As mentioned, at the early days, your baby could just show a grin while sleeping, which is just scientifically considered a passing of gas. But once your child develops an intentional smile warmly meant for you, that would surely be the best feeling in the world.
- Smiling is an important baby milestone. Your doctor may ask you whether you have noticed your baby’s smile at his first two months, so be on the lookout for that special little beam.
Overall, your baby’s smile at this stage could imply the following:
- He’s starting to mature and can already figure out human behavior.
- He tends to realize that smiling back at you could get your attention.
- His brain development is progressing, and the enhancement of his communication skills is on the way.
Month 2, Week 1 Tips
If you are tirelessly attempting to make your little bundle grin yet cannot seem to coax a smile, don’t worry. It could take a few more tries.
Consider the following tips:
- Your baby could smile past you while not looking at you in the eyes. That is just his way to get rid of stimulation overload and exert an extent of control over his world.
- If your baby was prematurely born, give him additional weeks or even a month to show off his smile. As a rule of thumb, the more premature the baby is, the more time he needs to catch up.
- Respect the differences between you and your spouse in how you play with the baby. Dads usually arouse babies during play while mommies are usually more restrained. Don’t worry because your baby loves both styles and loves you both.
- For those daddies who are challenged with the thought of being a new parent, spend extra bonding time with your child to ease your anxiety and strengthen your relationship.
- Caring for your baby could sometimes be exhausting. You and your partner should work hand-in-hand to execute all parenting tasks well.
Despite having a baby now, you shouldn’t leave your relationship with your partner at the back seat. While the baby is asleep or somebody else is taking care of her, spend time to keep your connection. Surely, your baby will smile some more if he sees you both happy.