One of the most precious sounds a parent can hear is their baby’s first laugh. Sometimes, it’s so small that you don’t even recognize it as a laugh. Other times, your baby lets out a beautiful little giggle that melts your heart. But when do babies start to laugh? Here’s what you can expect.
When Will Baby Laugh?
Babies usually laugh out loud for the first time when they’re 3 to 4 months old, but it can vary among children.1 The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that your baby’s laughter may happen first when they are asleep! However, research shows babies may smile or twitch in their sleep due to a reflex rather than reacting to a dream they’re having.2
In a dreaming state, you may notice your little one cooing, smiling, and even laughing as he responds to an internal impulse. Around two months of age, your infant begins to smile at you and interact more socially.
Your baby may begin with small sounds, cooing, or clicking or sucking noises before learning to make the sound of laughter. The sucking, cooing, and other sounds your baby makes prepare him for the next stage of communication, including laughing, making verbal sounds, speaking words, and eventually talking. These exercises help his muscles develop. Consult your pediatrician if you’re concerned about your infant’s lack of facial expression.
Can I Encourage Laughter?
Noticing and responding to your baby’s cues will help encourage his smiles and, eventually, laughter. Make eye contact (look at your baby’s eyes and face) and smile or make silly happy faces. You and your baby will mirror each other, and he will try to imitate or respond to the signals you send through your facial expressions. Babies learn from repetition, so repeating a funny face or silly sound can encourage your infant to answer back.
Talking with a singsong voice can also encourage a baby’s laughter. Talking your way through an exercise like mealtime or a diaper change holds your child’s attention, teaches him about language and communication, strengthens your bond, and develops his social and emotional skills.
Try saying, “Here we go! Time for your diaper change! First, mommy is going to lie you down and unsnap your onesie. Would you like a raspberry?” Make eye contact and smile as you ask him the question, and if he smiles back, seems receptive, or makes animated facial expressions or sounds, you can respond by giving him a silly kiss or “raspberry,” which may result in his smile or his first laugh.
What If My Baby Doesn’t Laugh?
If your infant isn’t one to laugh, it may be their personality. Just like children and adults, some people are more animated, and others are more reserved. Don’t force laughter; just try to encourage it sometimes. If you notice minimal facial expression or lack of emotional engagement, consult your child’s doctor for advice.
The best thing you can do is take time to connect, be present, and focus on your baby in positive ways. This will enable you and your baby to forge an authentic connection and develop a loving and trusting relationship. Good feelings will naturally follow.