When Do Babies Laugh?

Laughing baby

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Hearing your baby's laugh is one of the most remarkable moments during the first year. Whether it's a chuckle or a full belly laugh, once you hear that sound for the first time, you'll be doing all you can to elicit it as often as possible.

Your baby has been experimenting with sounds since the beginning. Those coos, squeals, and gurgles have all been practice for that first eruption of laughter—another important step in learning to communicate.

If you're impatiently waiting for your baby to hit this milestone, you're not alone. Not only is the sound of a baby's laughter music to their parents' ears, but it's also a sign of healthy development.

Let's learn more about when to expect your baby's first laugh, how you can help them discover the sound, and what to do if your baby hasn't reached this milestone when expected.

Baby Milestones

Babies change rapidly during their first year of life and significant developmental stages during this period are referred to as milestones. The age each child will hit their milestones varies slightly, but these stages of development help serve as a benchmark for parents to help them better understand when they can expect certain behavioral and physical checkpoints to emerge.

If your baby has begun flashing that signature smile your way, chances are laughter will soon be accompanying their gummy grin.

Like smiling, laughter is a tool your baby will use to communicate with you. Each new sound your baby makes comes from learning how the mouth and tongue move, so like any new skill, laughing takes a bit of practice.

It's important to remember babies reach their milestones at different times. While charts are a great reference tool, you may find your baby acquires some skills earlier or later than what is to be expected.

Milestones are estimations and there is a range of normal in terms of when a baby will reach major achievements.

What Age Do Babies Start Laughing?

Most babies will produce that first chuckle at about four months of age. However, you may notice your baby bursts into laughter before that, or slightly after. Like any new skill, laughter may take some time to perfect. As your baby gets older, the laughter will become more abundant.

It's no question your baby's giggle is music to your ears, but the sound pleases your little one, too.

Laughter feels good for everyone, and it's an enjoyable new sound for your baby to make. Babies also enjoy seeing the reaction their laughter evokes from their parents, siblings, and other caregivers.

Can You Make Your Baby Laugh?

Fear not: you don't have to be a stand-up comedian to tickle your baby's funny bone. In fact, your baby's first laugh may come from their favorite toy or from a pet doing something silly.

There's no need to pull out your best jokes, but having fun with your baby is the best way to encourage laughter to emerge. Here are some ways you can get your baby giggling:

  • Funny faces: Your baby knows your expressions by now, and often tries to mimic them. Making a silly face, like opening your mouth wide or sticking your tongue out, may be unexpected enough to make your little one chuckle.
  • Blowing raspberries: Who can resist a sweet little baby tummy? Blowing raspberries on your baby's belly is a great way to produce a belly laugh.
  • Singing: Don't worry if your vocals are a bit dicey—your baby simply adores your voice. Songs with fun hand motions (think "Itsy Bitsy Spider" or "The Wheels on the Bus") are big hits with little ones, and there's no better applause than laughter.
  • Nose kisses: That little face is so kissable, but a regular smooch is what your baby expects. Switch it up by rubbing noses and see if your little one reacts with a gleeful chuckle.
  • Peekaboo: Hey, where did Mama go? Hiding your face in your hands then shouting "peekaboo!" will surprise and amuse your baby, perhaps to the point of laughter.

It may seem intuitive to tickle your baby, but experts suggest waiting until the giggles become more frequent before giving this method a go. Some babies rather enjoy tickling, however, it can make other littles ones feel uncomfortable.

Wait until your baby can better communicate and express emotions before introducing the tickle monster.

What If Your Baby Isn't Laughing?

Like adults, babies have their own moods and preferences. The best bet for producing a case of giggles is to try during a time when your baby is fed, rested, and alert. In other words, don't let comedy hour coincide with naptime.

If your baby seems to have missed the laughter milestone altogether, it could signal a potential problem.

Although there is a range in terms of when babies reach their milestones, remember to keep an eye out for signs of a developmental delay in order to implement early intervention services, if needed.

When to See Your Doctor

It's important to mention any concerns about your child to the pediatrician—big or small. The doctor can advise you as to whether the issue warrants further testing, or whether it's simply something to keep an eye on during the coming months.

Common red flags to watch out for during the first year of your child's development include:

  • Lack of social smiling or laughing
  • Failure to make eye contact
  • Inability to gesture or wave
  • Absence of cooing or babbling
  • Losing previously acquired skills
  • Poor muscle control
  • Jitteriness or shaky, uncontrolled movements

A Word From Verywell

It's easy to compare your child to others, especially in the age of mom groups and social media. You may find your friend's child who is the same age as your baby has developed a certain skill that your little one has yet to tap into, which can be cause for concern.

Remember, milestones are expected dates of when children typically meet certain goals, but there is room for variation. That first laugh is a special moment, and will likely arrive before you know it!

As long as your baby is healthy and isn't exhibiting any red flags in terms of development, you can sit back and enjoy their unique timeline. Of course, should you have any questions or concerns about your baby's development, it's always best to reach out to their pediatrician for advice.

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