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.
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.
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!