When do babies start smiling? (It’s Sooner Than You Think!)

babies start smiling
When do babies start smiling and how do you get them to smile at you? This and so many more social milestones on this post.

When you have your first child, you’re so excited about the upcoming baby milestones that await in the first year; from their first little sounds to their first steps. Perhaps one of the biggest milestones babies have in the first year is their smile. Especially for mothers who are having a hard time after giving birth, it’s essential to know just when do babies start smiling?

To add, there are so many types of baby smiles that start from the womb and change over time. To know when babies will start smiling and how, this guide guides you through the happiest moments to look forward to.

Guide to this post: 

When babies start smiling

Earliest smiles: Babies start smiling in the womb 

This whole post could be summed up in one answer: “in the womb,” but it’s not quite that simple. Baby smiling in the womb happens all the time as a reflex. Since it happens randomly and not as a response to any stimulation, experts don’t really count it. This continues when your baby is born, but parents find that since it’s not an immediate reaction, it can be hard to really connect with your baby during those first 6 weeks.

Capture those first smiles with a smart baby monitor that detects smiles and milestones.

when do babies start laughing

When do babies start laughing?

Although you’re going to get lots of smiles here and there from day one (whether intentional or not) it could be a long time before you get a proper laugh. Months, even. That’s pretty normal so if you’ve reached the four-month mark without a laugh, it’s okay! If you do want to try to coax a laugh out of your little one, there’s a few things you can try.

Get silly with them

Pop your lips, make a little voice, or blow raspberries at them. There are lots of noises they find fun and interesting that can make them laugh suddenly, maybe even to their own surprise.

Tickle them gently

Little eskimo kisses, kissing and blowing on their feet or their tummy, all of these sensory experiences can be funny to your baby causing them to chuckle.

Noisemakers

No need to go to the party store to find vuvuzelas or whistles. You can simply use things like zippers or bike bells and show your baby what sounds they make. Not only is it a great learning experience for babies, it can definitely be fun enough to get them to laugh. If you haven’t yet found one that sparks a giggle, keep trying! There are plenty of new sounds to try until you find one that 

Eye contact, cooing, and other social milestones

Similar to their first smile, their first (on purpose) eye contact comes around the six to eight week mark. Essentially, this is the time they start getting social. What’s great about the eye contact milestone is that parents often feel like all their care taking is finally reciprocated with real connection.

This is more than just emotional, it’s scientific fact. Eye contact releases oxytocin which in turn makes the bond between you and your baby stronger. It really is a win-win. While on the one hand, it makes your baby feel more secure, it also makes parents feel happier to do all the work necessary to raise a little one. It’s gratifying on all fronts.

Other social milestones 

Of course, all baby milestones are flexible. Not every baby will develop the exact same skills at the same time. So, what are a few social milestones you have to look forward to in the first year?

  • Around three months, your baby will also be cooing and imitating facial expressions
  • At five months, they’ll respond to their own name
  • At six months, they start to try to get caregivers to play with them and know whether someone is a stranger
  • Around seven months, you’ll get those long, mesmerizing mirror stares
  • At nine months, they start to have separation anxiety when left with grandma or a different caregiver (or even when you just step away to the other room!)
  • Also at nine months, your baby has connected with a toy or lovey (you might also like: are lovey safe for baby sleep?)
  • At twelve months, they have favorite people, use gestures, and respond to their name

How to make eye contact with baby

If you’re struggling to catch your baby’s eye and hold it in those first few weeks, first of all know that it’s completely normal. Consider these tips to hold your baby’s eye for a few seconds:

  • Come closer to your baby’s face (10-12 in). Their focus doesn’t go too far during those first couple of months, so it you’re too far, it can make sense that your baby just sees a blurry figure and won’t lock eyes with you.
  • If you catch your little one looking towards you, keep their attention with gestures, talking, or singing.
  • If possible, talk to your baby while you feed them.
  • As they grow and start looking at objects or people, point to them and name them. It helps them develop connections and keeps their gaze for a little longer.

What if my baby doesn’t smile at 9 months or later?

baby not smiling at 9 months or later

Your baby’s reflex smiles should be apparent all throughout the first few months. This is a sign that their muscle development is normal. In fact, just because babies start smiling doesn’t mean it’s the only reflex they have. In the first few weeks, your infant is trying out all sorts of facial expressions. What happens if babies don’t smile at caregivers? Well, you might be looking at one of several developmental issues. Babies learn how to smile (or really, when) from their families and cultures. This is why babies who have face-to-face interactions with family often, learn what situations they should smile through sooner.

If you’re already at nine months and just not seeing that connection, see your pediatrician. There are a few reasons why this could be happening and your medical professional will be able to help target the source. While it can be worrying, try not to panic or self-diagnose. Many parents have realized their baby isn’t quite developing like other kids and as long as you consult a professional (or two!) you’re going to find what the best course of action is for you. 

Note: This post is not meant to be taken as medical advice. Please consult your medical professional before you take any action.

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Ximena

Ximena

Ximena is the Content Marketing Strategist at Cubo Ai. She follows plants, dogs, and babies on Instagram and almost no one else.