Give Your Baby the Gift of Laughter
0 to 6 months
Your newborn’s first smiles appear at around six weeks. In the early months, you’ll amuse her by stimulating her senses, such as when you blow the always popular raspberries, tickle her gently, or give her a bouncy “ride” on your knee. Babies will smile naturally in response to another person’s smile. So, keep grinning when you make eye contact with your little one. This also helps develop her conversational skills.
Make silly faces, cross your eyes, or speak in a funny voice when you’re giving her a bath or changing her diaper. Your mini-jester benefits greatly when she laughs – she’ll exercise her lungs and oxygenate her blood, and laughing will also aid her digestion.
6 to 12 months
Your tot will be tickled whenever she plays games offering an element of surprise, such as peek-a-boo. Remember, when she can’t see you at this stage, she believes you’re gone. So imagine how excited she’ll be when you reappear! Your baby’s humor is becoming more slapstick. She’ll try to tease you by pretending to give you a toy, then snatching it back quickly. Or she’ll let it fall to the floor on purpose and start giggling when you retrieve it for her.
When you laugh at your baby’s antics, she’ll seek it out more and more because she enjoys seeing you amused. But be careful not to laugh at her mistakes, unless she is making them intentionally.
12 to 18 months
As your baby gets increasingly mobile, she’ll show more interest in physical humor, such as being “chased” by you. So, get down on your hands and knees when you hunt her down. Pretend you don’t see her, and then search for her in the cupboard, under the bed or behind the door, asking all the while, “Where are you?”
Lift-the-flap or pop-up books are great at this age, or those that make a noise, since they all offer an element of surprise. Cartoons and amusing television programs will also catch her fancy because of the element of humor. Your baby is now old enough to understand that illogical acts are meant to be laughed at. So, when you’re dressing her, put her sock on her hand instead of her foot, and you’ll be sure to get her to giggle.
You are your child’s favorite stand-up comic, so tickle her funny bone by doing silly things, like drinking out of her sippy cup. She knows you don’t drink out of a sippy cup because you’re an adult. Laugh with her – she’ll realize it’s ok to poke fun at oneself and not take everything so seriously.
Your little toddler’s speech is starting to take off now, so she’ll enjoy more verbal humor. She’ll chuckle when you point to a picture of a dog intentionally and tell her that dogs say “meow” because she knows that they say “woof.” When her language skills blossom, she’ll find nonsense words and rhymes funny too.
She might try to make you laugh – pointing to her nose when you ask to see her eyes, or pretending to talk on the phone because she knows you never fail to giggle. She’ll keep doing this over and over again, and though the jokes may soon get old, don’t skimp on the snickers, as this will boost her confidence
Your sweetie’s newfound sense of humor is a clear indication that she’s developing normally and that you’re raising a happy, optimistic and confident child with a healthy self esteem. Have fun with your little one at home by encouraging humorous play. When you laugh with your tot, it not only strengthens your bond, it relieves stress and works wonders on your own well-being. So get giggling!