There’s nothing in the world like Baby’s smile, and once you’ve first caught a glimpse of it in the wild, there’s a good chance you’ll end up dedicated hours of your life to trying to hunt it down again. Between your dedication and the fact that Baby likes to be happy as much as you like to see them happy, you shouldn’t run into too much trouble getting some more glimpses of that gummy grin, but just for days when they're in a stubborn mood, here are a few ideas to get you started.
- Lead by example
Babies start to be able to mirror your expressions back to you just after they’re born, and by the time they’re 3 months old, they’re pretty competent little mimics when it comes to facial expression. So if Baby is looking a little pouty, the first question you’ve got to ask is whether they are dealing with a pouty you, and even if smiling at them doesn’t get their grin going right away, it’s a great place to start!
- Is that a hat?
Anything can be a hat if you wear it the right way – and if you wear it the wrong way, Baby will probably enjoy that even more. As babies get older and start to recognize more and more of what ‘normal’ is, their senses of humor grow, since they start to be able to recognize the things that aren’t normal – like, say, you wearing their teddy bear as a hat – and think that they’re hilarious. And they will probably think it’s even better when your makeshift hats fall off.
- Through the looking glass
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the smiliest baby of them all? Often, it’s the baby who’s mugging and flirting with their own reflection.
- Classic strategy
By the time Baby is between 4 and 6 months old, they are big enough, strong enough, old enough and tough enough to take on an intense and age-old rite of passage through childhood – peek-a-boo, of course. At around 4 to 6 months old, Baby starts to get a sense of object permanence, which means they are starting to understand that even when they can’t see you, you’re still around, which makes peek-a-boo a much more exciting game than the one where you blink out of existence as soon as Baby can’t meet your eyes any longer. Plus, the way peek-a-boo gets repetitive appeals to Baby’s love of knowing what’s coming next, and your face is the best big-reveal of all, so a few rounds of peek-a-boo could be just what Baby needs.
- All the world’s a stage
A puppet stage, that is! And literally anything you can hold in your hand can be a finger puppet now, when Baby is a relatively uninformed critic. When their left shoe starts singing them a song, or their favorite stuffed animal starts reciting lines from your favorite movie, or the pen you’ve been using does a little dance, you’re on the right path to have Baby smiling in no time.
- Catch some Zs
Some babies take a little bit longer to start smiling when they’re happy than others, but the parents of some late-smile-bloomers end up waiting a bit longer than they have to, because some sleepy-heads love their beds enough that their first real happy smiles and giggles happen in their sleep. Even more than that, though, on days when Baby is cranky and reluctant to smile, it’s even more important than usual that they get enough rest to put them in a better mood to try again tomorrow.