Mother and Baby

The Science Behind What Makes Your Baby Laugh And Smile

A baby giggle is possibly the most adorable sound you can hear and it means that your baby is developing just as she should be. But what makes her smile that gorgeous (albeit, dribbley) smile?

Your baby’s laughter and smiles give an insight into the way her brain is working, a new survey has revealed.

The Baby Laughter Project polled 700 parents from around the world and found that babies smile in response to enjoyment when they’re as young as one month old. And around two to four months of age, your baby will smile directly at you. 

‘Laughter and smiles start incredibly early, just like tears,’ Dr Caspar Addyman, a baby laughter researcher at Birkbeck College in London, told the BBC. ‘So this leads us to think that it's a form of communication.’

Because your baby is young and has experienced so little, she’s likely to find the silliest things funny

Dr Addyman thinks that studying babies’ laughter can be a way to show how their brains are developing. ‘You can't laugh at something until you get the joke, so what they laugh at really tells us about their understanding of the world,’ he says.

Because your baby is young and has experienced so little, she’s likely to find the silliest things funny – like peek-a-boo for example. Games like this are a great way to show one key development called object permanence – the knowledge that even if you can’t see an object, you know it still exists somewhere.

Babies up to six months old don’t yet understand this, which is why they are shocked and amused by games like peek-a-boo. When you cover your face, your baby thinks that you’ve actually disappeared and so when you uncover your face, it comes as a happy surprise for them. Cue that gorgeous giggle.

When your baby’s around eight months old, she’ll know that your hiding meaning that the game becomes about guessing when you’ll ‘come back’.

What makes your baby laugh? Share your stories below.

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