When your child is very young, each new skill, look, or mood is a treasure: the first time she really looks at you; when she starts to coo; when she meets her family for the first time; and when she smiles. She has to develop her smile muscles before she can reward you with her brilliant grin, but when she's just about ready, is there any way to help her along? How do you make a baby smile?
The easy answer is that you do not make a baby smile! Babies are completely oblivious to your needs and desires. They don't care if you are so tired that all you crave is a pillow and blanket, and they don't care if all they give you is dirty diapers. So it is completely according to their own schedules that they grow and develop – as it should be. If you've ever marveled at your child's innocent smile only to be told it was gas, well, be assured that your child was smiling. From the day they are born, infants frequently smile while they're asleep; it may be a “reflex” smile, but it is an important step nonetheless.
She didn't smile when she got all the baby gift baskets, or balloons, or even the new baby cookies, no she was oblivious then. But at around two to three months of age, your baby will look at you and give you your first “smile.” She will smile at the sound of your voice, a soothing melody, or a funny sound before she will smile at something she sees, so noises play an important role if you're trying to coax a smile. Touch is another important factor, which is why gently blowing raspberries on a baby's tummy or foot is a surefire smile inducer. They love the sensation, the sound, and the closeness.
Making animal sounds and singing silly, rhyming, fun songs are also great ways to get a smile out of your baby. They love silly noises; if you are making a sound that would cause you to turn red and want to hide if you were out in public, then you're on the right track. This will also help produce the precious first giggles too!
Babies love faces. When a baby is born, do you know how far she can see? She can see your face when you are holding her in your arms. There is a reason for this: not only do her eyes need to develop, but she needs to look at you for reassurance and security. She loves your face, and she loves it even more when you do silly, exaggerated things with your mouth and eyes. Wide surprised looks are great. And babies love the big, dramatic fake sneeze. It's a crowd pleaser.
Other things to try includes nibbling her toes and fingers softly; again, they love the close proximity, the texture, and you're probably making a silly face while you're doing all of this. Tickling lightly works; even just lightly stroking your finger along a baby's belly can be enough to get a great, big smile. Let family and friends make silly faces – babies like variety too! Silly is great. Perhaps the babies are smiling or laughing at us, not with us. In any case, they love for you to loosen up and be silly. You'll try a hundred different things to make your baby smile, and she'll let you know when you've succeeded.
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