Baby's First Laugh: How to Tickle Your Infant’s Funny Bone
You’ve been tracking every development—was that a babble or just a burp?—when your infant finally hits every parents’ favorite milestone. She smiles.
Laughing will follow soon after, and you won’t get enough of that sweet sound. Most experts agree that baby’s first laugh occurs around 3 or 4 months old, and the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that you should notice your 3-month-old becoming more communicative and expressive with her face and body in general.
But don’t worry if Junior hasn’t found you funny just yet; your baby may take a little longer to reach that social milestone. If he still hasn’t cracked a smile or given you a giggle by 6 months, discuss your worries with your pediatrician.
Developing a Sense of Humor
Interestingly enough, a new study suggests that babies develop their sense of humor from—who else?—their parents and caretakers. Presented at a British Psychological Society meeting in September 2012, the researchers said they studied 30 babies in their homes when they were 6 months old and again as 1-year-olds. Parents were told to either laugh or remain expressionless as researchers acted out funny events.
They found that at 6-months-old, the infants took cues from Mom and Dad when they saw something that just might be humorous. When the researcher put a foam ball on her nose, poked it and said “Beep! Beep!,” little ones laughed, but they also watched the reactions of their parents very closely. But as 1-year-olds, the babies had developed their own sense of humor and laughed at the silly antics whether the adults laughed or not.
“Humor might seem like a frivolous topic, but it provides a vehicle for understanding infant development, in this case the development of social referencing,” study author Gina Mireault, of Johnson State College in Johnson, VT, stated in a news release. “This study shows that 6-month-olds pay attention to ‘unsolicited emotional advice’ from parents during ambiguous situations that might be funny.”
What’s so funny?
Now baby’s first laugh has bubbled up and melted your heart. How do you keep those sweet giggles coming?
Funny noises are your best bet for younger babies. Smack your lips and make silly sounds, and you’re sure to get a laugh from your audience. There are also classic games like This Little Piggy and Peek-a-Boo; turn the latter into a fun movement game around the house as your tyke starts crawling and walking.
In the book “97 Ways to Make a Baby Laugh,” author Jack Moore presents exactly what the title suggests—tons of ways to get your little one cracking up. The tips range from simple tricks to skilled skits, but almost all involve mom and dad acting up.
When you’re on-the-go, Moore’s “Exaggerated Sneeze” should get a few giggles with no props and little effort. He writes, “fake a sneeze that takes a long time to arrive, as in ‘Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Choo!’” At a family gathering, try this one: “Play rap music, while Grandma does in improvisational, nonrepetitive break dance. Note: Everyone else in the room should clap and repeat the beat ‘Go girl! Go Girl!’”
Funnies for the Whole Family
For the “truly committed—or the desperate,” Moore suggests number 56. “Stage a water pistol fight among all family members in front of Baby, but at a safe range. For a multicolor production, use a different food coloring in each of the pistols.” The messy gag gets the whole family involved, which is the greatest thing about Baby’s first laugh—you can now share the goofy family fun with your newest family member.