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When do babies smile?

You will always remember that first time your baby looked up and smiled at you. It’s one of those milestones that you don’t forget. But if you’re new to parenting and are waiting for that big moment, it can be hard to know when it will come about. In all of our blogs and guides, we always highlight that all babies are different – so this means yours might not have their first smile as early as others. But, there’s no need to worry, we have everything you need to know about your baby’s smile and when you can expect to see it for the first time.

when do babies smile

When do babies smile for the first time?

Smiling is something that can happen very early on in your baby’s development, but just because it looks like they’re doing it, it doesn’t mean they are actually smiling. You may notice your baby ‘smile’ whilst they are asleep or when they are mimicking your facial expressions. However, this isn’t the real deal. Your baby smiling like this isn’t because of a genuine reaction to something, it’s just their way of copying you or moving their face around.

During the first month of your baby’s development, you’ll most likely see these kinds of movements quite a lot. Although they are not actually smiling, it doesn’t mean it’s not super cute! You will most likely have to wait till your baby’s second month till you see a genuine smile. This will be when your baby is smiling because of something that gives them pleasure or happiness.

when do babies smile

Is my baby smiling a sign of development?

Whist your baby’s smiles are nothing but cute, they are also a vital step in your baby’s development. Not only in the use of their facial muscles, but also how they react to touch, noise and visual things. 

Not only this, smiling will allow you to know how your baby is feeling. Before smiling, it may have been quite difficult to tell if your baby was happy or if they needed something. However, smiling gives you a great signal that they are enjoying themselves. 

It works the exact same as if your baby was crying. You know that when they do this, they are either in discomfort or need something like a nappy change or bottle feed. When your baby smiles, it means they are enjoying themselves, whether you are playing with them or watching a kids tv programme. 

If your baby isn’t smiling properly yet, there are other signs you can look for that will tell you your baby is having a good time and is happy. These signs include:

  • Giggling
  • Gazing at you
  • Pushing their lips into a ‘ooh’ shape
  • Wide eyes

These are all things that can indicate your baby is happy. Once they start doing these things, it shouldn’t be too long before they crack a real smile for you.

When your little one first starts smiling, it will mainly be towards visual ques like your facial expressions and when you are in front of them. However, as they develop, their smiling will increase and you will notice that they begin to smile even at the sound of your voice, before they have even seen you. At this stage, it’s likely that they will also start trying to communicate with you through noises.

You definitely won’t be able to understand your baby when they start making these noises, but it won’t be long until they try and copy words from you – meaning you’ll slightly be able to make out what they’re saying. You can find out more about when your baby will say their first word by reading our ‘When do babies start talking?’blog.

when do babies smile

How can I encourage my baby to smile for the first time?

If you’re past the second month and you still haven’t seen your baby crack a smile, there are some things you can do to help. However, it’s important to note that this is not something you should be worried about. Your baby being a late smiler will not have an impact of their development. 

Your baby will copy a lot of what you do, so smiling around them when you’re speaking and playing with them will mean they may learn it faster. Although they might not be real smiles at first, they will still make your heart melt. 

If you’re looking for more things you can do to help your baby smile, we’ve listed a few things below that we have found help…

  • Smiling regularly. We briefly went over this but if you smile a lot around your baby, they are very likely to start smiling back at you. Once your baby does smile at you by approaching it this way, it’s important that you respond to it and engage back with your little one.
  • Play with your baby. Your baby might use smiling to get your attention but might need a little bit of help first. So, instead of waiting for them to smile at you, crack a smile and encourage them to do the same. This will indicate to them that they have your full attention.
  • Use different voices. Don’t just use the same voice every time you speak to your baby. Your little one will respond differently to voices and noises that may make them want to laugh. However, at the start of their development, they will express this laughter with a smile. Try some funny noises and voices to see how your baby reacts.

These things should help your baby start smiling. However, it’s okay for your child to take a little longer than others. It’s advised that if your baby doesn’t start smiling by 3 months, you should seek some advice from a health visitor just to make sure your baby is developing fully. 

when do babies smile

Can a baby smile at less than a month old or whilst newborns?

They can smile, but like we have mentioned previously, it won’t be a real smile. From the front, it will look like a normal smile that you and I would give someone. But your baby’s smile probably has nothing behind it and they are just doing it as a way of copying your facial expressions or stretching their facial muscles.

Just keep waiting for your baby's smile…

We know that if you haven’t seen your baby’s smile yet, you’re probably watching their every move and waiting for it to happen. Eventually, they will do it and it will be a moment that you will remember forever.

As much as this moment will be amazing, it will only get better from there. Once your baby starts smiling, their communication will develop vastly. They will go from smiling to gurgling and then talking. Your baby’s development is full of exciting times and we can’t wait for you to experience them.

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