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Baby's First Social Smile

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on July 25, 2021

Month 2, Week 1

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By encouraging your baby to smile, you're helping them develop self-esteem. It lets them know that their feelings are important and that they can affect their environment. It's also important for their 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 their face very close to yours. Remember, at this age your baby sees best at 8-12 inches away.
  • Smile widely at them 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 their two-month well child visit. So be on the lookout.

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

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

Month 2, Week 1 Tips

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  • 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 their way of avoiding stimulation overload and exerting some control over their world.
  • If your child was born prematurely, give them 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.

Show Sources

SOURCES:

American Academy of Pediatrics: "Your Baby's First Smile."

WebMD: "Baby's First Year."

American Academy of Pediatrics: "Emotional and Social Development: Birth to 3 Months."

American Academy of Pediatrics: "A Special Message to Fathers."

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