Baby’s First Laugh: A Special & Significant Milestone

When parents find out they are expecting, they begin imagining what their little one will look, act, and sound like. Images of exploring, adventures, conversations, and cuddles fill parents’ minds. Throughout pregnancy, birth, and into the early days of new parenthood, one of the most anticipated moments of all is experiencing your baby’s first laugh.

A baby’s first laugh is a joyful moment for both the baby and anyone who witnesses it! Whether the laugh is a quiet giggle or a loud chuckle, parents can’t wait to recreate the sound over and over again! 

When Will My Baby Laugh?

So when will this anticipated moment finally happen?!

One of the most important things to keep in mind during parenthood is that every baby and child is different. While timelines can provide a general idea of what to expect, relying on them to measure whether or not your baby is developing at the rate that it should be can be stressful. Each child develops at their own rate, and milestone markers and timelines should only be used as a guide. Just like most babies don’t arrive on their due date, babies often hit milestones before and after suggested guidelines.

Parents should allow their children to develop independently while offering support and encouragement as needed. Putting pressure on a specific skill to develop will not make it happen faster, and in some cases, it can actually delay the development of a milestone.

If however you feel your child is not progressing, and intervention is required, consult an early childhood expert, such as their teacher or caregiver, or a medical professional about how best to proceed. Most children with developmental delays will catch up to their peers with a little intervention and extra support. 

In general, most babies will laugh for the first time around three or four months. Several factors contribute to this, including the baby’s general temperament, speech development, social and development.

What Does it Mean When My Baby Laughs?

Some adults believe that when a baby smiles and or laughs the first time, the baby isn’t actually expressing joy or emotion. Instead, the first smile or laugh is often credited to passing gas, natural reflexes, or even fluke! However, a study completed in 2015 by Paul Ruvolo suggests that babies begin to understand complex social interactions significantly earlier than what society has been taught to believe.

In Ruvolo’s study, he found that “mothers consistently attempted to maximize the time spent in mutual smiling, while infants tried to maximize mother-only smile time” (Ruvolo, Abstract). This means that while mothers spent time smiling and interacting with their baby, encouraging response, the baby spent his time simply observing his mother’s efforts. His conclusion demonstrates the significance of parental support in developing social understanding.

Infants and children learn by observing those around them so there is amazing value in simple parent-to-baby interactions. What the parent may think is a plain, straightforward interaction, is a profound learning opportunity for the child! The more we smile and laugh with our children the more their social, emotional, and language develop advances.

How Can I Encourage My Baby to Laugh? 

So what, as parents, we can do to aid our babies in their social development, and lead them to laughte?

  • Engage with them with a warm expression and with eye contact.
  • Carry a conversation with them. Leave gaps in your conversation to allow time for your baby to “chime in” with coos and sounds.
    • Although it’s a little early to expect any sort of linguistic comprehension, your baby is learning how communication functions.
    • Consistent engagement with your baby helps them to develop early language and other non-linguistic milestones.
  • Model coos and giggles. Mimic their “language”. Babies learn by example and through encouragement!    
  • Play games like peek-a-boo and engage them with toys

 When to be Concerned

Although the average age for a baby’s first laugh is between two and four months, try not to be stressed if month fiverolls around and you still haven’t heard your baby’s laugh.

However, if your baby is 6 months old and cannot support their head, is not smiling, laughing, or making eye contact, and doesn’t show sings of recognizing their caregiver discuss these concerns with an early childhood educator or pediatrician.  

Celebrating Your Baby’s First Laugh

Regardless of when your baby shares their first beautiful laugh with the world, it will be a magical moment!

Many cultures celebrate a baby’s first laugh as a significant event. For example, in the Navajo culture of Native Americans, a baby’s first laugh represents the child choosing to part with their identity in the spirit world, to now join their family and culture in the physical world. The laughter is celebrated with a gathering of shared food, candy, and gifts. This gathering is said to be hosted by the baby themself, along with the adult who was fortunate enough to have witnessed the baby’s first laugh!

At the end of the day, your sweet little one will grace you with their laughter when the time is right! Try not to stress about making it happen early, and try your best to be present with your baby as much as possible so that when the time does come, you are there to see it. Happy Laughing!

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