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Baby's First Social Smile

Month 2, Week 1

By encouraging your baby to smile, you're helping her develop self-esteem. It lets her know that her feelings are important and that she can affect her environment. It's also important for her overall brain development.

Here are some tips to coax a grin:

  • Choose a period when your baby is relaxed. A hungry baby isn't inclined to smile.
  • Take your baby in your arms with her face very close to yours. Remember, at this age your baby sees best at 8-12 inches away.
  • Smile widely at her and offer a warm "hello" in that sing-song pitch parents do so well.

Your Baby's Development This Week

After two tough months of late-night feedings and diaper changes, you're in for a big treat -- a smile from your baby.

Sure, you've seen your baby smiling since soon after birth. Often newborns will smile in their sleep.

Sometimes a smile in the early weeks of life is simply a sign that your little bundle is passing gas. But starting between 6 and 8 weeks of life, babies develop a "social smile" -- an intentional gesture of warmth meant just for you.

This is an important milestone. Your pediatrician will ask you whether you've seen your baby's grin at her two-month well child visit. So be on the lookout.

Here's what your baby's smile means at this stage:

  • She's growing up and starting to figure out human behavior.
  • She realizes that smiling back at you gets your attention.
  • Your baby's brain development is advancing and her communication skills are on track.

Month 2, Week 1 Tips

  • If you're trying to get your baby to smile and can't seem to coax a grin, don't fret. It may take a few attempts.
  • Your baby may smile past you and not look you in the eyes. That's just her way of avoiding stimulation overload and exerting some control over her world.
  • If your child was born prematurely, give her a few extra weeks or a month to grin. As a general rule, the more premature, the more time it will take to catch up.
  • Respect differences between you and your partner in the way each of you plays with the baby. Dads often arouse babies during play while moms are more low- key. Your baby loves both styles.
  • For dads who find being a new parent challenging, extra bonding time with baby helps strengthen the relationship and ease stress.
  • Caring for baby at this age is still demanding. Work with your partner to relieve each other for naps, exercise, or the "downtime" all parents need.
  • Keep your connection: find time for just you and your partner while baby is sleeping or somebody else is caring for her.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on September 13, 2013

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