From sleeping through the night to walking around the house, your baby’s first year is packed with exciting milestones. Each “first” is an indicator that your baby is growing and learning, and a baby’s first laugh is a sign that your baby is content.
After what might feel like endless sleepless nights, laughter is always a welcome milestone in the life of a baby. Not only does laughter indicate happiness, but it also shows that your baby is alert and engaged. It’s also an early form of communication.
When will my baby laugh?
It’s easy to get caught up in timelines when it comes to child development because these precious milestones help us check off growth and development before children develop verbal skills. Babies develop on their own timelines, however, so it’s important to remember that developmental milestones are viewed as a guide, not an absolute.
Most babies begin to laugh somewhere between the third and fourth month. Some will begin earlier, and some will begin later. Don’t fret if you’re still waiting for that first belly laugh at the end of the fourth month. Some babies are more serious or simply don’t laugh as much as others. If other milestones are being met, this isn’t a cause for concern.
What makes my baby laugh?
Your baby doesn’t understand your sense of humor yet, but she does pick up on sounds and movements.
• Funny noises: Blowing sounds, popping, fake sneezes, kissing sounds, and popping sounds tend to be crowd pleasers for babies. All babies have their own preferences, however, and some are easily startled by abrupt sounds. Proceed slowly and try to maintain a calming voice tone when you play with your baby.
• Movement: Many babies enjoy bouncing up and down or light swinging in your arms.
• Light touch: Some babies laugh when you kiss their toes or hands. Other babies laugh when they feel a gentle breeze on them.
• Games: Between four and six months, peek-a-boo becomes a fun game that also tends to illicit laughter. You can also try singing and rhymes.
Babies do become overwhelmed at times. As exciting as laughter is, it helps to watch your baby for clues that she’s overstimulated and needs a break. If your baby looks away or shifts from content to fussy, stop the comedy show and help her feel safe and calm, instead.
When to call the doctor:
It’s important to stay focused on a wide range of milestones. If your baby is meeting other milestones along the way, one missed milestone is not necessarily a cause for concern.
If you notice that your baby is not meeting other milestones, talk to your child’s pediatrician at your baby’s next well child visit. Your doctor will review your baby’s milestones to date and talk about whether it’s best to take a watch and wait approach or seek a referral for a pediatric occupational therapist for an evaluation.
Given that babies develop at their own pace, comparisons to other children in the family or other babies in your neighborhood are futile. Your baby has her own timeline, and she’ll laugh when she’s ready.
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