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A quick guide to your baby’s smile

How your child’s adorable grin is a key clue to her development

Posted: 11 May 2012
by Rachel Ragg

Don’t get too excited if your four week old appears to be grinning at you – her smile is really just a reflex action, unrelated to anything she sees or hears. These ‘smiles’ normally occur during sleep.

At around six weeks, this all changes and your baby should smile in response to a pleasing event, such as the appearance of a favourite toy. According to paediatric specialist Dr Nigel Spate, your baby should be giving a responsive smile by six weeks – and if she’s not, you need to tell your doctor. You also need to allow for prematurity. “A baby born at 37 weeks may not smile until nine weeks, and a baby born two weeks late should be smiling by four weeks” says Spate.

By three months, most babies will have discovered social smiling. As they become more aware of the outside world, they also discover that smiling results in pleasurable attention from their parents and carers.

By eight to 12 months, your baby’s smiles become an ‘anticipatory’, meaning she will expect to receive a smile in return. Reaching this stage means she’s well on the road to social communication.

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