Seeing your baby smile is one of the greatest joys of motherhood. Though the first few weeks of looking after a baby are tiring and difficult, all this seems to go away as soon as you see your baby smile for the first time. You might be eagerly waiting to see this smile and look for some response from your little one. However, it could actually be a couple of weeks before your baby actually starts smiling at you.
The truth about babies’ first smiles
You may have noticed glimpses of your baby’s smile in the first few weeks after your baby is born. This could be either when they are falling asleep, or after they just finished their feed, or at other times when they are feeling comfortable and happy. In fact, all babies smile even when they are in the womb, much before they are born. But the smiles that you see during your baby’s first month are actually just a reflex to “gas.” It is a natural reflex by the body, kind of like a test to make sure that everything is working fine.
Don’t be disheartened, though! Soon enough, your baby will flash the first real smile at you. This smile will be a sign of your baby's growing social, emotional, and visual skills. Your baby will flash their real smile for the first time when they are around six to eight weeks old. Some babies may even smile as early as four to six weeks. Most probably, the smile will be in response to something special, like the baby recognizing you or your partner.
One way to recognize that this is their genuine smile is by noticing how your baby uses their full face and not just their lips to smile. When you see your baby smiling, you should encourage it because it is important. Smiling helps babies develop their brains and self-esteem. The more a baby smiles and gets reactions from you or your friends and family, the more a baby is encouraged to coo and giggle.
Here’s how to coax a smile from your newborn:
There are many small steps you can take to help your baby along the journey of a first smile.
Smiling at your baby, cuddling, playing, and talking as often as you can, will encourage them. However, give your baby time to respond. Make frequent eye contact to encourage communication.
Give your baby a wide smile and use the sing-song, warm voice that babies love hearing.
Always choose a time when your baby is relaxed. Hungry and sleepy babies are generally and understandably less inclined to smile.
Try holding your baby in your arms and bring your faces close to each other. Remember that at this point in their growth, babies can only see their best at about 8–12 inches away.
Don’t be afraid to act silly. For instance, try making funny faces and sounds, imitate different animal sounds and behavior, and maybe even play a game of peek-a-boo to push your baby's smiley button. But remember not to overdo it because if babies are over-stimulated, they’ll simply look away and lose interest.
Contrary to popular belief, newborns are not spoiled by receiving extra attention. In fact, babies who are given more parental attention and love tend to develop faster. They have more developed brains and are more sociable. So, if you cannot wait any longer to see your baby’s first smiles snuggle away and smile to let your baby know they’re loved.
When to call the doctor
Always remember that each baby is different and reaches their milestones at their own pace. Though you may be anxious to see your little one smile, there is no need to stress if you don’t see a lot of grins. It is completely normal if your baby takes a few extra weeks to show you their smile. However, if your baby hasn’t smiled or grinned by the time they are three months old, you may want to mention it to your baby’s pediatrician and seek medical advice.