One of the things that can be really frustrating for new parents is the lack of positive feedback from their newborns. They are needy little creatures at first and many new parents are hoping for babies who might not be laughing straight out of the womb, but will at least smile every once in a while. And oftentimes, they do. I was caught on video when my 4th was less than twenty-four hours old remarking, “Look he’s smiling already!”
But during those early weeks and months, baby smiles don’t usually correspond to anything specific that you are doing. They have yet to master the “social smile.” I tell new parents to be on the lookout for smiles and to claim every single one of them as real no matter why it might be happening! We all need as much positive feedback as we can get from our newborns. Otherwise, the 4th trimester can be pretty bleak.
Most babies will start smiling socially, on purpose, in your actual direction, at about six weeks of age. That’s a long month and a half of a whole lot of nothing from your newborn. It’s a really, really good thing that we’re hard-wired to think babies are so cute. Especially our own babies. Their sweet little faces are designed to elicit a response in us so we will continue to take care of them even as they prefer the ceiling fan to us. Watch this great video that explains how and why this happens.
While it might take awhile before we ever get rewarded with that social smile, it’ll be even longer until we get to hear them laugh. But once they’re consistently in that zone, which takes about six months, it’s the greatest thing ever. You will spend a huge amount of your waking hours trying to get your baby to laugh over and over again. The stupid and ridiculous things that your baby will laugh about are unbelievable. But that’s nothing in comparison to the stupid and ridiculous things you’re willing to do to get your baby to laugh! There’s nothing in the world quite as addictive as your baby’s laugh. Knowing that you are the cause for their laughter makes it even better.
For any of you who are still in that pre-six weeks phase where your baby is smiling when they’re sleeping or passing gas only, or if you’re just in need of a little pick-me-up while you’re reading this, check out these videos. I dare you to not crack a smile, or start laughing out loud yourself.
It’s moments like these that we long for as new parents, and they’re coming to you. The day your baby laughs out loud at something you’re doing can make up for an awful lot of “lack of social interaction” in those first few weeks and months!
Did you find it challenging when your baby wasn’t very social as a newborn? What kind of crazy things were you willing to do to try and get them to at least crack a smile? When did you first hear them belly laugh? How’d that make you feel?