Reasons Why Your Babies Smile
Your baby’s smile will melt your heart, but did you know that his grin reveals clues about his development?
There’s nothing more heart warming than your baby’s gummy grin and new research now shows why you have such a strong emotional response to your baby’s smile and why he smiles at you so much.
For the last three years, developmental psychologists have been studying the science of smiles and laughter in children under two years of age. We asked the real experts when it comes to babies their parents, to fill out surveys featuring a range of questions on everything from what age their baby started smiling, to what made them laugh most.
We’ve learnt that smiling and laughing are not just signs of contentment. What babies laugh at, and how they laugh, tracks other cognitive developments. This means that smiles can help us comprehend just how much a baby understands his world.
Smiles In The Womb.
Whether you’re remembering your baby’s first smile or still looking forward to that firework moment when he breaks into his irst beaming grin, you can dismiss the idea that those early smiles are simply facial expressions made in response to wind. “Your baby’s irst smiles are likely to be his earliest natural expression of contentment. “And they may happen far earlier than you think. Third-trimester scans have picked up babies smiling in the womb.” Smiles that genuinely reflect positive emotion are activated involuntarily by the emotional center of the brain and involve the muscles around the cheeks and eyes, as well as the mouth.
Smile Baby Photos
The smiles captured in the womb certainly look like the real deal. So the idea that your baby’s first smiles outside the womb are caused by wind is an old wives’ tale. In those early weeks, the only forms of expression available to your baby are crying or smiling and laughter. So think of laughter and smiles as the positive lip side to crying. Just as crying is a signal from your baby to change something he’s not happy with, smiling or laughing encourages you not to change anything and to keep doing what you’re doing.
Smiling Is Contagious
Next time your baby gives you a big grin, try not to smile back. Chances are you’ll find this almost impossible. A 2008 study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that when a mother looks at a picture of her own smiling baby, the areas of her brain associated with reward are activated and the feel-good chemical dopamine is released, giving her a natural high. Babies with sad or neutral faces didn’t provoke the same effect, and neither did photos of other people’s smiling children. This makes your baby’s smile irresistible to you and helps form the mother-baby bond.
When you smile back at your baby and give him eye contact, that’s a rewarding experience for him. “Your attention is everything your baby wants in the early stage of his life, it makes him feel secure and safe. This means your baby will begin to smile in order to get your full attention from early on in his life.” A study by the University of California in the US, has shown that your baby starts grinning at you intentionally before he is four months old, he even times his smiles to make you smile back as much as possible.
Baby Smile Age – He’s smart!
Babies learn about the world around them through interacting with other humans and their smiles ensure that they get as much interaction as possible with others. As your baby grows and develops, he starts to smile as an emotional response to other people. For example, think of the last game of peek-a-boo you played with your little one. “It’s likely that before the age of six months, your baby is smiling because he is actually surprised by your reappearing face. “But when he’s older, and can predict the outcome, his smiles are a sign that he is enjoying the social element of the game. He’s taking delight in your company.
By the age of 10 months, your baby is likely to be able to transfer his smile from an object to a person. So, although he’s not yet able to communicate the sentiment in words, by this age he’s moved beyond a smile that signifies only, “I like this object”, to one that expresses, “I like this object and want to share that enjoyment with you”, indicating a more complicated emotional life and level of comprehension.
As he nears his first birthday, your baby is an expert smiler and will have worked out that smiling can help him get what he wants – yes, he’s mastered the fake” smile. By the age of one, babies have such a sophisticated understanding of the power and meaning of their smiles that they’ll even smile for the camera. Smiling will always play a large part in your child’s life and he’ll smile, on average, 400 times a day. “It may be that your child is more alert and engaged when he is smiling, as studies show that toddlers learn more effectively when they are laughing or smiling than when they are serious. So, smiling is a central component of your baby’s early development. We should all do it more.