When Will My Baby Smile?
When your baby first smiles, all those sleepless nights can be forgiven in an instant. It's a wonderful moment but it's also an important developmental step that marks the first positive interaction between a parent and a child after they have previously only communicated with cries since birth.
My Baby is Smiling Early
Babies are fast learners and eager to communicate so they generally make their first 'proper' smile at around the age of six weeks, depending on their personal development.
Babies start to use facial expressions while still in the womb and attempt to make them at birth. Newborn babies also smile when they're drowsy or asleep, but these smiles are spontaneous and are not emotion-led. They decrease as the baby grows older.
As your baby begins to respond to the environmental stimulations around them, as their brains develop, their vision improves and they start to recognise faces and focus on them they begin to reflect their emotions with smiles.
Will My Baby Smile At the Right Time?
At two to three months, babies increasingly respond to face to face communication with their parents and primary carers and start to look at and focus on faces when smiling. In turn when they're between four and six months they start smiling and then looking away again. At this stage, babies are beginning to regulate and understand their own emotions. They are also developing lots of different smiles for different occasions, open mouthed smiles generally exhibiting more happiness than closed mouth ones.
By eight to ten months of age, babies are starting to use smiles in social situations with more people as they learn that their smiles make those around them smile too.
Once your baby is able to smile you will find that they smile more the more you interact with them - smiling yourself or talking to them. Learning to smile builds the foundations for future social skills that they'll rely on in life to interact and relate with everyone else.
All babies develop at very different rates and if your baby hasn't reached the same milestones as other people's babies the chances are there is nothing to worry about. However, if you are concerned that your child is very late in reaching one or a number of milestones then it is sensible to seek further professional advice from either your health visitor or GP. We have more information on the variable rates of development in babies here.