The smile is one of the most characteristic gestures and behaviors of the human being. We all smile, in general, at situations of pleasure or entertainment. But sometimes we also do it because of nervousness, anxiety or other emotions. Even newborn baby smile in the womb.
In fact, the newborn baby smile goes through several stages, each with different characteristics and motivations. They are described below.
1. The newborn baby smile: reflects and spontaneous
The newborn baby‘s first smile occurs from the last months of gestation until the first month of life. It is a reflex act, not motivated by events external to the child. It responds to internal situations, such as satisfaction after eating or activity of the central nervous system. That is why it often appears during the sleep phase. This was demonstrated by some studies more than three decades ago.
2. The smile of the social or active newborn baby
The social smile appears towards the end of the first month of life, when the child begins to manifest responses to external stimuli that catch his attention, as bright and moving objects. It also comes when recognizing expressions or movements on other people’s faces or pleasant sounds, such as a soft voice. To make the baby smile, you can play with him, hug him and tickle him.
In addition, after two months, the child develops a “primary circular reaction”, a behavior on his own body performed randomly and for no purpose produces a result so pleasurable that motivates the child to repeat the smile until the same effect.
3. The Differential Child’s Smile
This third stage of the newborn baby smile extends between four and eight months. The child already smiles openly and the childish laughter appears, especially when stimulated by tickling or other external action.
This is called a differential smile, because the little one already recognizes faces and begins to decide which ones to smile against before which ones do not. Sometimes it will remain indifferent and, in other cases, it may even cry. The pleasurable discoveries of the newborn baby, which motivate him to repeat them, are not related to his own body but to the physical and social environment, such as toys and other objects.
On the other hand, in this period the child begins to recognize the meaning of smiles and other expressions of other people. And feedback occurs: when the newborn baby smile, he notices that his parents do too, which reinforces his behavior and leads him to continue smiling.
4. Laughter of the child with intention
From the age of eight months until they turn one year old, children develop an intentional smile. It is called that because the child is already able to use the smile – and also the laughter – to achieve goals and objectives. This is how they begin to do things to get attention or to see how others react. In addition, his ability to understand the expressions of the rest is refined. If your mother or father smiles in an unfamiliar situation, the child will calm down.