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When Do Babies Smile?

When Will My Baby Smile?

Babies smile almost from birth. That means people look at those little smiles and coo and aww just as reflexively as the baby is smiling. That’s because that first beautiful smile is only a reflexive smile that isn’t inspired by the people or things the newborn is seeing, hearing, or interacting with. It’s a reflex (an adorable reflex but a reflex nonetheless). Most people who ask when babies smile usually mean the all-important social smile that means baby is interacting with the sights and sounds around them, mostly mom and dad, and their entertaining ways.

Passing Gas Makes Baby’s Smile

Babies smile when they’re in the first month of life. The reflex smile is mostly present because of baby gas. That’s right. The adorable little smile that pops up on your baby’s face is usually a reflex that comes about because your little one is passing gas. It’s adorable, sure, but it’s not that deep down smile that we think of when we think of a smile. What’s more heartwarming? Babies who smile when they pass gas or babies who smile when dad makes a funny face? The social smile probably won’t appear for 6-8 weeks, give or take a bit of time. Some babies might exhibit this smile at about 4 weeks, but it’s usually never before that one month milestone.

Reflex Smiles

The reflex smile and the social smile are two baby smiles that will capture your heart. Even just knowing your smiling infant is smiling because of passed gas can be a cause for cellphone snaps and shares. Some parents simply want to see their children smile because, well, that’s what parents spend their lives trying to do. They want to bring happiness and overwhelming joy into the lives of their children. It’s kind of a parental duty to appreciate that grin. And you will, whether it’s because of gas or a funny face dad made at 6 weeks. Snap that picture and share!

Delay In Smiling

Because one symptom of autism spectrum disorder is a delay in the first social smile, parents sometimes worry if their babies are 3 or 4 months old and still haven’t smiled. There’s good news about that for some parents. Since this is only one symptom of this disorder, if it’s the only one you’re noticing, it likely isn’t autism.


That’s because even babies who have a bit of delay on smiling usually have other social skills such as making eye contact or responding to other social interaction cues. In other words, this isn’t the only symptom of autism. So if it’s month 4 and your baby is still hanging out with you and making eye contact and other social mannerisms. Only your pediatrician can guide you on when a delay in smiling should be a problem, but most of the time things are fine. Babies smile when they smile!

Sense of Humor

And oh what a moment it is when they do smile. That first social smile is a thing of true beauty for parents, a pure joy. The baby may do a grin or just a full on smile that melts your heart and leaves you calling friends and family to relay the big moment. Babies smile when a lot of things happen, and over the next year your baby’s humor will eventually begin to develop into something that blossoms like flowers. What your baby finds smile worthy will differ by age. At first, it could be cooing sounds from mom, dad, friends, or family. Later on when they begin to listen more to language and comprehend things, they’ll find humor in words.

What Makes A Baby Smile?

Babies smile when they smile, and now we know the timetable for that milestone, so it’s time to learn what exactly might make them smile. It’s understandable that parents who get that first social smile from cooing, lightly ticking the belly or feet, or some other magical thing that brings on that happy baby smile. Parents will naturally want to get some real ideas on how to bring on that baby smile once again. Remember that some babies will smile a little, some a lot, and others somewhere in-between. Every baby is as unique as a snowflake, especially when it comes to their unique sense of humor.

The things that make your child smile will eventually evolve into an entire list of activities that might get them to smile:

  • Movement of arms, legs, combined with funny sounds
  • Funny faces
  • Nonsense words or even words said in a certain tone of voice
  • Tickling the little belly playfully
  • Certain movements with your arms that might cause a smile
  • Babies smile when they find something amusing, so experiment!

Older Babies and Smiles

Older babies smile when they notice incongruity in situations or phrases, something that just seems “off.” Just like adults, children also begin to develop their own sense of humor and may smile because they find something funny or because they are happy to see mom or dad or another person. The moral of the story is that sometimes your babies smile when they see something interesting, heartwarming to them (you), or even nothing at all. Babies even smile when they sleep, and once they’re passed just that reflex smile, it could be for a number of reasons. The more content the baby, the more smiles!

Go Make Some Smiles

The above tips can help you make your baby smile, but you’re going to have a blast trying to make your baby smile more. Once the smiles begin to flow out, you’ll naturally learn what things work and don’t work. Eventually babies smile when they’re happy to see you, and there’s nothing any more heartwarming than just a baby who is glad to see a parent who loves them. It’s a sign of love, bonding, and a genuinely entertained baby that loves you very much. And of course, you love that baby and its whole smile, too.

If your baby doesn’t smile a lot at first, don’t worry about it. All babies will have their own pace and different personality. There are some babies who smile at just about everything and others will smile at almost nothing (you really have to work with those babies). Ideas abound for ways to make babies smile. Friends, family, and acquaintances may all have their input on how to make your baby smile a little more. It’s natural for you to want to see that smile a lot, but the fact is that just like adults, sometimes babies aren’t in the mood to smile. Babies smile when they’re content, amused, or being compelled to smile with something entertaining, and those things can only happen if your baby is content. If they’re hungry or tired, forget the smiles.


Advice also abounds in the pediatrician’s office, especially if your baby is experiencing a delayed smile onset and has some of the other symptoms of autism. You’ll definitely want to discuss this with your pediatrician, but remember if smiling is the only symptom, it’s probably nothing at all. It never hurts to bring up as many things as possible with your pediatrician, though, as they’re the experts on the delicate little growing babies of the world. The golden rule is that babies smile when they smile, but they’ll generally start this process at 6-8 weeks. What a wonderful moment the first smile is for parents and all who know and love that child.

1 thought on “When Do Babies Smile?”

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