When do newborns start smiling?

Body Inside & Out   |   Age: 4 weeks 2 days

When do newborns start smiling?

Seeing a baby smile is one of the greatest joys in life, but it may seem like forever until your baby starts smiling. You might be wondering when she will begin smiling back at you when you talk to her, or you might have noticed a reflex smile in her sleep. Most newborns begin to smile between 6 and 12 weeks, but everyone is different, so you might notice your baby smiling before or after that. A smile is a sign that your baby’s vision is developing and her cognitive awareness is improving. It's also a sign that she wants to start communicating with you.

Why do babies smile?

Babies use smiling to communicate with you, and begin making facial expressions both in the womb and after birth. Smiling at your baby allows her to start to learn and mimic your facial expressions, and you can start to encourage her with your expressions as early as her first few weeks. You will be able to tell the difference between a reflex and learned smile by your baby’s reaction to outside stimuli - as your baby gets older and more aware of the world around her, if a smile seems like a response to something, it probably is. Often during a “real” smile, her entire face will light up and you will see the smile in her eyes.

What’s next?

Once your baby begins smiling, she will repeat this behavior as long as you encourage it. To encourage smiling, try talking to her often, making funny faces, starting a tickle war, or, as she gets a little older, maybe between 5 and 7 months, playing peek-a-boo. Pretty soon, you might notice those first adorable newborn giggles, so get excited!

  • Ioana Patringenaru. “Babies smile to make their moms smile back.” University of California. Regents of the University of California, September 23 2015. Web.
  • “Developmental Milestones: 3 Months.” Healthy Children. American Academy of Pediatrics, June 1 2009. Web.

More articles at this age

Talking to your doctor about birth control at your postpartum visit

There are a lot of health considerations around recovery after giving birth, and figuring out birth control to ensure that your family grows at a rate you're ready for is an important one.

Should I wake my baby for feedings?

It goes against the grain to wake a sleeping baby, but now and then, it might be the right thing to do.

Washing your baby's clothes

No matter how much practice you have doing grown-up laundry, doing an infant's laundry is different. After all, how often do you have to get spit-up out of YOUR onesies?

Keeping your newborn safe from germs

Some recent studies suggest that germ exposure for children might help boost their immune systems throughout life, but this isn't the case for those so young. So what are the best ways to protect your little duckling from germs?

What vaccinations does my child need?

Immunizations are an important part of keeping your baby (and all other children) healthy, so it's important to know which immunizations she will need at which times.

Common postpartum mood disorders

After spending the better part of a year growing a human being, it's common for many new moms to experience changes in mood or feelings in the days, weeks, and months after delivery.

Welcome to lil'bee!

It looks like you're using an ad blocker. That's okay. Who doesn't? But without advertising-income, we can't keep making this site awesome. Please disable your ad blocker and refresh this page.

Thanks for understanding 🙏