Everything you need to know about a baby’s smile

With: dr Michael Larrar, child psychiatrist

A baby’s smile and laughter is priceless! But how is it developing? Is it natural to purse your lips to express a moment of joy? Should you worry if the baby still won’t start smiling? Together with Dr. Michael Larrar, Child Psychiatrist, we take stock of the baby’s smile.

When does a baby start smiling? At what age does he smile for the first time?

A baby’s smile develops fairly early, but as Dr. Michael Larrar explains it’s a bit like a testing phase: ” In the first two to three weeks after birth, the baby begins to develop facial expressions and grimaces, including a smile. However, it is not a smile like we do as adults, but a reflexive smile“. This first smile can also appear while the baby is sleeping. We do not necessarily know where this development of the first smile comes from, but according to some researchers it is an innate behavior.

From the first weeks of life, a smile will gradually appear on the baby’s face. But when does it become a social smile? It will depend on the actions of the parents, explains Michael Larrar: ” During baby’s first smiles, called reflex smiles, these generally trigger a smile from the parents, and that’s a great thing. The little child will understand if he sees a big smile in return the social dimension, joy and well-being that a smile evokes. By around six weeks, the baby is neurologically able to smile at will, and at that moment, the baby’s genuine smile becomes an element of speech with its environment. The little baby does things either by reflex or by accident. These experiences will recur according to the reactions he receives from those around him. ».

Help the baby develop his smile

To best help your baby develop their social smile, here are some tips. At first, don’t hesitate to smile often, so that the baby can better understand the social and happy meaning of smiling. If the latter gives you a smile at the same time, you must also answer him with a big smile! Looking him in the eye when he smiles also helps the baby to develop confidence and understand that smiling triggers an interaction on your part.

Help the baby develop his smile

To best help your baby develop their social smile, here are some tips. At first, don’t hesitate to smile often, so that the baby can better understand the social and happy meaning of smiling. If the latter gives you a smile at the same time, you must also answer him with a big smile! Looking him in the eye when you smile can also help baby develop confidence and understand that smiling triggers an interaction on your part.

Laughter: is it the same when baby laughs?

If a baby’s smile develops in this way, does the same apply to laughter? The answer is yes, as Michael Larrar explains: Laughter follows exactly the same pattern as a smile. The child will give its first laugh in a so-called presensory way. For example, if we give him Gilis, he will automatically laugh. Likewise if you enjoy hiding your face or making weird noises. Laughter is as natural as a baby’s smile ».

My child isn’t smiling properly, should I be concerned?

The smile in the baby will therefore appear approximately in the first six weeks of life. Should you worry if the baby doesn’t smile? It’s important not to wait too long for a smile, explains Michael Larrar: “Each baby develops the concept of a smile at their own pace. For some it may take longer than six weeks. You don’t have to worry too much. On the other hand, if the child didn’t smile afterwards several months, it may be a good idea to speak to a doctor. It is very rare, but it can happen, for example, that the lack of emotions is caused by an autistic disorder. In other cases, it may be newborn depression that becomes emotionally numbed. This can happen, for example, with babies who have had to spend months in the hospital because of serious health problems. In this case, interacting with the child by smiling and playing with them will help them develop their smile.”

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