Babies typically start to smile around six to eight weeks old. When a baby smiles any earlier than that, moms are told by skeptics that “it’s just gas.” I swear these are just bitter people with flatulence problems. You will notice a strange coincidence when you are singing a silly song, and your baby “has gas” at the same funny place every time. If your baby has dimples, an early smile is even more obvious. My older son’s dimples were so deep he could hide snacks in the crevices. At only four weeks old, that mischievous grin was unmistakable.
Nothing melts a mother’s heart like her baby smiling at her. When you smile back, you begin the first form of mutual communication with your baby. It shows your baby that you are pleased with her smile and you want her to continue. If you pout or stick out your tongue, your baby may imitate you. Get in the habit of smiling all of the time, because your mood will influence your baby.
Just when you think things can’t get better than a smile, your baby will start to laugh around 3 to 4 months old. Nothing is more infectious than a deep belly laugh from a baby. You will become a solo stand-up comedy act, wearing strange props on your head and doing just about anything to get a laugh. Pretty soon your baby will inflate your ego by squealing with delight when you walk in the room. Enjoy this now, because if you just open the window and look toward the horizon, you will see how far this delight will travel to when your baby becomes a teenager.
Don’t be thrown when people ask you if your baby is “blowing raspberries” yet. This is the term for making a loud noise by putting your tongue between your lips and blowing. Parents do it instinctively on their baby’s tummy, but babies also love doing it, starting around 3 to 4 months. Not on their own tummy, of course; that would be downright freaky.
The beginning of two-way verbal communication starts with babbling. Around 5 to 6 months, a baby will start to babble with sounds such as “ma-ma” and “ba-ba.” My son Nate shocked me one day by saying, “goo-goo-ga-ga.” It seemed like such a cliché that he would actually say that.
Sometimes babies get stuck on a sound and repeat the same one for weeks on end until you are ready to scream. When our Luke started to talk, he would only yell, “BABY!” approximately five hundred times a day for what seemed like months. It’s not that he was trying to annoy me; he was just so proud of his new skill that he wanted to share it with me…over and over and over again. To encourage language development, do what women do best: TALK!
During Head Games, your baby will only say new words when everyone else leaves the room, causing you to question your sanity. Once your baby starts saying actual words, you will start having mind-boggling conversations such as the following:
MOM: Did you just say “hi?”
BABY: (Laughs) Hi!
MOM: What a good boy! Say “hi!”
BABY” (Laughing) Hi! Hi! Hi! Hi! Hi! Hi! Hi! Hi!
(DADDY ENTERS ROOM.)
MOM: You’re not going to believe this! He just said “hi!” (To baby) Say “hi!”
MOM: C’mon! Say “hi!”
MOM: (Pleading) Please say “hi!” Hi! Hi! Hi! Hi! Hi! Hi! Hi! Hi!
MOM: (To Dad) I swear he just said “hi” about ten times!
DAD: Sure, I believe you. (Exits room).