Most of the gestures or sounds a newborn baby makes are generally cute. But there is one that stands out most: a baby’s smile. When we see such a little creature smile or have a giggle, it awakens our deepest feelings and emotions. It is also highly contagious!
What exactly is a baby trying to tell us when they laugh? Strangely enough, depending on their age and the situation they are in, they try to convey very different things.
It’s similar to when they cry. Since they can’t use words yet, they use it as a way to communicate their intentions and needs.
Sometimes they cry because they are hungry. Other times because of flatulence or stomach cramps. Or maybe because they need a clean diaper or because they want to sleep. Therefore, just as it is good to know why a baby is crying, it is also good to know what a baby’s smile means.
During the first weeks, a baby’s smile is a reflex
According to numerous studies, the baby’s smile is a reflex during the first weeks of life. It arises in an innate, involuntary and automatic way because it is something predetermined in us. The muscle responsible for this gesture is the risorius muscle, which is only present in humans.
This means that the little one is smiling without necessarily anything making him laugh. It is enough for him or her to just hear a pleasant sound or see their mother’s face. In many cases, a loving look alone is enough to make him smile.
But as the child grows older, it becomes a response to a specific stimulus. There has to be something specific to activate it and it’s a way to express an infinite number of emotional nuances. Let’s see what a baby’s smile means as the months go by.
The smile of a two-month-old baby expresses well-being
Two or three months after birth, a baby’s smile is an expression of their well-being. They smile when they feel satisfied and don’t do this until all their basic needs are met. It is the ultimate sign of harmony and happiness. So if your little one smiles, rest assured that it’s a sign that everything seems to be going well.
In addition, it is a flexible response, as they can show it in different circumstances. An example of this happens after breastfeeding, when they realize they are no longer hungry.
Another example is after a nice warm bath, because they feel clean and smell nice. They may also smile when they wake up in the morning after a good night’s sleep or when their parents pick them up to play with them.
From the fourth month they laugh consciously
When they are four months old, and up to about six months old, the so-called “conscious laughter,” which is selective and anticipatory, develops. It is now a response to an external stimulus that generates pleasure or recognition. It is a sign that the baby is getting used to a daily grooming routine.
This smile can be caused by their mother’s voice, a song, or by someone coming up to them and smiling at them. It should be noted that at this age the baby already knows how to distinguish a familiar face from that of a stranger. Because of this, they are not so friendly with strangers and reserve their smiles only for family members.
Let’s assume the baby likes something and smiles. At that point, if the adult laughs too, the baby will respond. Little by little, that gesture becomes a wonderful source of joy.
The first action that usually makes a baby laugh is when someone blows their tummy. They will also laugh if an adult makes funny faces or plays peek-a-boo with them, with the adult hiding behind their hands and then quickly disappearing again.
However, when they are at the age where they start to smile consciously, the opposite also happens. It is at the same time that the child learns to express himself by crying to express his or her discomfort.
From six months, they master a lot of different kinds of laughter
Once the first six months are up, babies can smile in a variety of ways, depending on what they want to show, such as:
As they grow, their perceptions and sensations become more accurate. This variety in a baby’s smile proves the wealth of emotions that the baby acquires. Thanks to this evolution in their emotions, those infectious giggles that we love so much are starting to appear.
Little by little they learn how to make others laugh, through their attempts at words, chatter or their gestures and body language. By doing this, they strengthen their social skills and begin to meddle in everything and be part of all kinds of games.
From nine months to a year, the baby smiles very consciously
At the age of twelve months, the baby’s smile is so enriched that he or she already uses it voluntarily in response to predetermined stimuli.
It’s a completely social smile, which they use to show that something has made them happy, made them laugh, or surprised them. At this point, they also know when not to use a smile, such as when they feel fear, pain, or anger.
It is important that the adult responds in a pleasant and friendly way when the baby smiles. They may respond with another smile, a hug, a hug, or a game.
This is the best way to form a loving bond and attachment with the baby. It is also a way to teach the child that the person standing in front of him or her is unique, different and loves him or her.