At what age do babies start laughing?
"On average, babies start to laugh at about four months of age," says pediatrician and author of Heading Home with Your Newborn, Dr. Jennifer Shu. "Although it could be earlier or later by a month or two," she adds.
Stephanie Keses, a first-time mom in Montreal, says that her baby, now five months old, was an early giggler. Her son Jake started laughing at about two months of age, and nowadays, he's laughing up a storm. "He laughs when you say ‘I love you,' and ‘mama'," says Keses.
Different babies, different laughing triggers
Keep in mind that, just like an adult, every baby has an individual sense of humour, even though they are still tiny. So where baby Jake might giggle at sweet words, another baby might only laugh at a silly face or another trigger, such as a toy.
My son, now 18 months old, would only laugh hysterically for me at four months old when I tossed a sock monkey in the air. My husband had better luck coaxing a stream of giggles out of him using nonsense words.
No laughing matters
Some babies don't laugh at all, which can be normal, too. "If everything else is developing on target, parents don't need to worry," assures Shu, who is also a mom.
It's also possible you haven't yet noticed when they are cracking up. "Babies often start smiling and laughing in their sleep, catching parents a bit off guard," says Shu.
Fits of the giggles
Coming down with a bad case of the giggles is a common daytime phenomenon among infants "Once something sets them off, they may laugh over and over again," Shu says. "If you make a face or noise they think is funny, they'll laugh repeatedly when you do it several times – easy entertainment!" she says.
Capturing baby laughs on video
When a baby laughter spell is coming on, you'll want to record it on video. One of the best pieces of prenatal advice I received was from a friend who said, "Take lots of video. Otherwise, you'll forget what the baby was like."
It's true, as a baby quickly becomes a toddler, her voice and laugh will change, so capture that delightful soft infant gurgle while you can. To get the best video results, be sure to get down at the baby's level, turn on the lights in the room, and keep the shot steady, without trying any tricks like zooming in or out.
Other tips to get a laugh from a baby:
• Make a fish face or stick your tongue out
• Play peekaboo, using a blanket to cover your head
• Imitate animals (or cartoon characters, or relatives)
• Copy a sound that the baby makes
• Use a hand puppet
• Put a soft toy on top of your head, or toss and catch it in the air (away from the baby)
• Use tickles, sparingly (they can be irritating)
And of course, don't forget to giggle, too. "Laugh with your baby. It will help her develop her social communication skills – and you'll be happier too," says Shu.
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