The one moment all mothers cherish and remember forever is the time of their baby’s first smile. If you’re still waiting for this special moment with your little one, here is everything you need to know about when their first smile will finally happen, and what you can expect from this very special developmental milestone. 

In this article:

When will my baby start smiling?

Every baby is different, but once the time of the reflex smile passes, their first smile will come when they reach 3 months.

At 3 months, their vision is improving a lot, and they will recognise who you are, and what you look like. 

This smile is different from the reflex smile, as it’s their response to something they’ve either seen or heard. It could be seeing your face or responding to your voice.

The meaning behind your baby’s first smile

Your baby’s first smile is an emotional interaction and a “reflection” or “empathic correspondence” to your actions. 

Some academics say the communication of positive affection compared with the experience with objects, and have noticed that the child, from 8 to 10 and 12 months, tends to significantly increase the behavioural sequence “smiles-looks at an object, then looks toward the face of the adult, maintaining the smile.”

The NHS says, “They may even imitate your facial expressions – for example, copying you when you stick out your tongue.”

Do newborns smile?

Research has said babies are born smiling and developing babies appear to start to smile in the womb. Neonatal reflex smiling occurs from birth to one month of age but has no purpose. It’s spontaneous and has no relevance to what they have seen.

How to make your baby smile

If your moment hasn’t come just yet and you want to know how to make your baby smile, the key is to talk to them often and give lots of eye contact.

When they do smile, this is the way they are going to communicate with you now. You can also be a bit silly with them, as they tend to react more with this. Make funny faces and noises, and even try out ‘peek-a-boo’ and see what they do! 

The more you give, the more you’ll get back. Your baby will smile when they’re ready.

After 6 months, your baby will also try an open mouth smile which follows with laughter. Your baby will be selective with who they share their smile with – the special people in their life. But, don’t worry, your time is just around the corner!

Once your baby has cracked their first grin, they will continue to do so regularly, and it won’t be long before you hear some squeals of excitement and other noises too. 

Make sure you mark this momentous occasion, although you might not be lucky enough to catch the official first simle on camera, there’s sure to be plenty more that follow. We love this first smile onesie as modelled on @valentinaparis – and what a gorgeous little grin too!

#mumtribe mums share memories of their baby’s first smile 

‘He was about 8 weeks old and had just woken up,’ Bella Edwards

Celia Stanworth, ‘It was at about 7 weeks, as I was in the throws of deep PND. It gave me a reason to keep going.’

‘It’s such a long time ago. But it would of been me just smiling at her or pulling a face that got her smiling. Then I got it on camera afterwards!’ Amanda McShane

‘Around 6 weeks old. My husband was making faces and smiling at him.’ Maria Masha