It’s not easy before your baby has learned to smile. We tend to use that upward curve to gauge our success as parents, because, really, verbal communication is a little on the thin side in the early days. But once they do start smiling, we’ll do anything to keep them beaming. Here’s a few tips on how to do just that.
“There are two key kinds of happiness,” says Michelle de Haan, expert in infant and child development. “One is the short-lived kind: the burst of pleasure your toddler gets when he’s whooshing through the air on a swing. The other is more deep-rooted – almost a personality trait – that comes from how he perceives and responds to the world.” The important thing to remember is that both kinds of happiness feed off each other, and that if you take care of your baby’s needs, his sense of security will allow him to feel safe enough to explore the world and discover happiness.
Typically, babies finally deliver a grin around 6-8 weeks. From 14 weeks you may even hear a chuckle or two.
You don’t need to hire a clown act to get your tot smiling. In the first few months, being with you is all they need to experience bliss.
“We know that babies respond positively to responsive caregivers who are quick to meet their needs, and being fed, watered and warm is just the beginning,” says Michelle. “They want tender physical contact, like cuddling or baby massage, and seek out social contact, too.”
Beyond the everyday stuff, you can still break out a trick or two to see that gummy smile. Because baby is brand new to the world, anything that plays with his senses will likely tickle his funny bone. Think—
- Saying ‘Boo!’ and closing and opening your eyes with your hands like shutters.
- Fake a sneeze, drawing out the ‘atchoo!’ in a high-pitched tone.
- Slurp up pretend-spaghetti, discarding all etiquette and being as noisy as possible.
- Make a menagerie of animal noises—get creative!
- Click your tongue against the roof of your mouth.
- Belt out your favourite nursery rhyme through an empty kitchen roll tube.
- Blow raspberries on his neck and tummy.
For more ways to have fun with your bubs, see here.