0 - 12 Weeks

Is your baby smiling on purpose?

Baby looking up at their mother

Between 2 and 4 months of age, your baby might start smiling as a social gesture. Previous reflexive smiles were random and disappeared quickly, but social smiles last longer and are generally in response to something—your face, a voice, or an exciting image. You can often see your baby’s eyes and entire face light up when they smile, sometimes with accompanying noises and gestures.

Your baby’s first intentional smile is considered the beginning of your social relationship 😊 Your baby smiles to communicate with you. They may be saying, ‘Hello!’ or ‘I like what’s happening’ or ‘Play with me.’ Social smiling helps teach your baby to recognize that their actions can cause a reaction. This is the very earliest form of empathy.

How to encourage more social smiles

Once you notice your baby start smiling deliberately, you can encourage them to keep doing it ❤️ Here are some tips:

  1. Try to make frequent eye contact and smile at your baby. Even if they’ve given you a social smile already, don’t expect them to consistently smile back at you. They won’t be able to imitate you for a few more months, but the early face-to-face time lets them study the way your expressions change and how you communicate. Smiling and eye contact can be stimulating for them so they may not meet your gaze for very long (or even at all).
  2. If your baby is upset or irritable, avoid trying to coax a smile to change their mood. Instead, comfort them by holding them close and validating their feelings. 
  3. If you make a funny sound and your baby smiles, you can say, ‘That silly sound made you smile! Should I do it again?’ Repeat it until they lose interest or start to squirm. Then it’s best to take a break, as social interactions can quickly become overwhelming.
  4. If you haven’t seen signs of intentional smiles by 4 months of age, talk to your child’s pediatrician.


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Posted in: 0 - 12 Weeks, 3 - 4 Months, Empathy, Lovevery App, Bonding, Communication, Social Emotional, Milestones, Child Development

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