A smiling baby.
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Smiling and newborns

Seeing a baby smile is one of the greatest joys in life, but it may seem like forever until Baby starts smiling.

When do newborns start smiling?

You might be wondering when they will begin smiling back at you when you talk to them, or you might have noticed a reflex smile in their sleep. Most newborns begin to smile between 6 and 12 weeks, but everyone is different, so you might notice Baby smiling before or after that. A smile is a sign that Baby’s vision is developing and their cognitive awareness is improving. It’s also a sign that they want to start communicating with you.

Why babies smile

Babies use smiling to communicate with you, and begin making facial expressions both in the womb and after birth. Smiling at Baby allows them to start to learn and mimic your facial expressions, and you can start to encourage them with your expressions as early as their first few weeks. You will be able to tell the difference between a reflex and learned smile by Baby’s reaction to outside stimuli – as Baby gets older and more aware of the world around them, if a smile seems like a response to something, it probably is. Often during a “real” smile, their entire face will light up and you will see the smile in their eyes.

What’s next?

Once Baby begins smiling, they will repeat this behavior as long as you encourage it. To encourage smiling, try talking to them often, making funny faces, starting a tickle war, or, as they get a little older, maybe between 5 and 7 months, playing peek-a-boo. Pretty soon, you might notice those first adorable newborn giggles, so get excited!

  • Ioana Patringenaru. “Babies smile to make their moms smile back.” University of California. Regents of the University of California, September 23 2015. Web.
  • “Developmental Milestones: 3 Months.” Healthy Children. American Academy of Pediatrics, June 1 2009. Web.

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