When Do Babies Start to Smile?

Every baby is different, but most babies generally start to smile somewhere around six weeks old. The first smile really depends on your baby’s temperament and how they adjust to their new world, so don’t panic too much if your baby isn’t smiling yet. If they’re responding to you and meeting other developmental milestones for their age, it’s likely nothing to worry about. But if they’re missing other milestones and haven’t smiled by around 12 weeks, check in with your pediatrician just to be on the safe side.

Newborn Smiles: It’s Not Just Gas

Did your newborn just smile at you?! When newborns smile, lots of people will be quick to tell you it’s just gas. Could they be expressing some visual relief as they pass gas? Sure. But believe it or not, it’s also possible that your new bundle of joy really did smile at you. In fact, some babies have been recorded smiling in the womb!

Reflex Smile vs. Real Smile: How to Tell the Difference

You might notice your baby smiling in their sleep, when they’re tired, when something touches their face or, as we mentioned earlier, when they have gas. These are known as reflex smiles or reflexive smiles. So how do you separate these smiles from the real ones?

A reflex smile is typically short and fleeting, and will occur randomly with no obvious reason. On the other hand, a real smile will usually happen in response to some kind of stimuli, like your face, your voice, or a toy that makes a noise. A reflex smile will typically only involve the mouth, while their whole face will light up with a real smile. Trust us, you’ll know it when you see it, and oh boy, will it melt your heart!

When Do Babies First Smile to Say Hello?

While their first smiles are most likely in their early days, your baby's first smiles to communicate usually take a little longer to make an appearance. It could take 2-3 months to socially smile at you with hopes that you smile back. That should be no problem! As they grow, they could very well be communicating frequently with their smiles by six months. 

The more you smile, speak, laugh, and communicate with your bundle of joy, the better. Our children really do mimic our every move. A little heads up, though — your smiling baby will spread those smiles wherever they go, so say goodbye to quick coffee shop and grocery store trips, and hello to the adoring strangers you and your baby will no doubt be meeting everywhere you go!

When Do Babies First Smile With Teeth?

Your baby is smiling often now and lighting up the room. But when will their pearly whites accompany their grin? Well, most babies start teething at around six months old, but you may see the first tooth anywhere between three and nine months. It’s a wonderful milestone for sure, but savor those adorable toothless grins while they last!

Tips to Make Your Baby Smile

Can’t wait to see that first smile? Try these tips to make your baby smile:

  • Smile at them while you talk to them. This will encourage them to mirror your expressions and give you a smile back!

  • Show excitement when they smile or coo to encourage them. 

  • Play peek-a-boo and make silly sounds, like blowing raspberries, making popping noises, or squeaking. 

  • Give them age-appropriate toys, especially those with lots of sensory elements like noises and bright colors. 

  • Use light touch, like gentle tickling or blowing. 

Whether they’re flashing you a toothless smile or showing some new pearly whites, it's never too early to start tending to your baby's oral care. The sooner you start implementing a routine with them as a baby, the smoother it will be as they transition to a toddler and have a bigger role in brushing and flossing. Just remember this little nugget — a healthy smile is always a happy smile.

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

ORAL HEALTH QUIZ

What's behind your smile?

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DO YOU KNOW?

2.3 billion

people worldwide suffer from tooth decay

ORAL HEALTH QUIZ

What's behind your smile?

Take our Oral Health assessment to get the most from your oral care routine

DO YOU KNOW?

2.3 billion

people worldwide suffer from tooth decay