Babies smile for a variety of reasons. First it is just to try the facial muscles, but then they smile because they love that they can make the parents smile.
It is adorable when babies smile. Since even before they are born, parent just long to see their newborn smile at them. The first time that the baby smiles at their parents definitely makes all the sleepless nights worth it. Still, it poses the question, when and why do babies smile.
While, many parents expect their babies to smile after a couple of months of their birth, some of hem are often pleasantly surprised when the baby flashes a quick smile just days, or even hours after being born. However, this is not a true smile and is actually a reflex smile. In fact, babies smile, frown, and make other facial expressions even in the womb. They continue this when they are born. Actually, babies tend to smile more when they are born and the frequency of their smile decreases as they mature.
The early smiles of the baby are basically just contractions of facial muscles. Basically, this is just the baby learning how to use their facial muscles. There is no emotion in this type of smiles, which often occur when the baby is drowsy or asleep. There is myth that is quite popular that states that babies often smile when they have gas, however, there is no theory to support it.
Between four to eight weeks, babies start to give real smiles. Here, the babies start to respond to environmental stimulus. This can include a sudden light, movement, noise, etc., as well as things that are pleasant and enjoyable, such as milk, food, toys, etc. The baby can now also recognize the parent’s face and voice, and often responds to them. Hence, they basically love to smile because it makes the parent happy. They love getting that reaction from the parent when they see the baby smile.
After eight weeks of age, the baby will start to interact with facial expressions, which mean that he will start to recognize facial expressions and respond to them. Basically, the baby will smile when he sees you smiling.
Between four to six months, the baby will start to smile but then look away as if to hide the smile. In this period, the babies are now learning how to regulate their emotions. The joy maybe too intense, hence, the baby will look away as if shying away from the emotion. After six months of age, the babies will start to show many different types of smiles each corresponding to different levels of joy. These will include, smirking, smiling, open mouth smiling, etc. The baby also should now start experimenting with laughter.
From eight months onwards, smiles will be used much more in social situations, as well as a mode of communication.